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Indoor Wi-Fi Location and Beacons: Better Together Part 2

wifibeaconLocation-based services have been getting a lot of attention lately and people are increasingly curious about how Wi-Fi and beacons play together in the hot space that is indoor location technology. In my last blog I reviewed how beacons work and how to differentiate when to use Wi-Fi and beacons. There’ve been some great questions about beacon technology and how it complements Cisco’s location-based Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution, so I want to follow up on these topics with everyone.

What types of beacons are there?

Generally, there are two different classes of beacons: transmit only and backhaul enabled.

Transmit only beacons are exactly as they sound -- they simply transmit information to anyone that is capable of hearing (bluetooth enabled smartphones). They do not receive or pass any data or information upstream.

Apple’s iBeacon is the best example of this type of BLE beacon. You can think of them like the navigational beacons used by airplanes when on approach to major airports. The beacon doesn’t even know the plane is there, but the plane is aware of the beacon and knows where the beacon is allowing it to take the correct action. Same is true for smartphones and transmit only beacons like iBeacon -- the intelligence is located in the mobile application which must recognize the beacon and take appropriate action.

Backhaul enabled beacons generally include a Wi-Fi chipset for either management or data capabilities. Some backhaul enabled beacons are USB enabled and take advantage of whatever connectivity exists within the PC they are connected. Read More »

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Cisco and IoE and the Next Generation of Customer Service

The networked connection of people, processes, data, and things that we call the Internet of Everything  (IoE) continues to increase its pervasiveness in the workplace and at home. As a result, business leaders are adapting to meet the changing expectations of the enterprise, their customers and the consumer market.

This isn’t the far-off future. It’s now. Organizations are revolutionizing business processes today. The Internet of Everything is dramatically impacting the performance of innovative businesses.

IoE is real and beneficial and can take many different forms, depending on the unique issues or opportunities facing an enterprise.

In a recent post, Chris Botting talks about how Customer Collaboration connects IoE to consumers.

I had an opportunity to really look closely at some of these impactful uses of IoE as we prepared for a two-day media, customer and partner event exploring tangible examples of IoE in action in Chicago last month. Along the way, I developed another perspective about business applications of IoE. In many cases, IoE becomes the Internet of Customers.

As a panelist at the event, Daniel Debow, senior vice president of Emerging Technologies at, provided great insight into IoE’s role in this amplified customer interaction.  He suggests that IoE is providing the roadmap of the next generation of customer service while transforming the entire service experience.

Daniel recognizes that behind every one of these billions of connected devices, there is a customer. In the real-world, Read More »

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Customer Care Enters the 21st Century

A friend of mine recently joined the rest of us in the 21st Century by getting his first smartphone. Although it was a long time coming, he’s now tweeting, checking Facebook, and tracking his favorite baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, like the rest of us.

Although my friend isn’t a techno-grouch by any means, the way consumers use smartphones to interact with companies is driving a transition in the customer care industry. Not only are consumers increasingly communicating with businesses via new mechanisms such as mobile, but they’re interacting for new reasons. Using the web and social media, today’s consumers learn much more about products and services before they reach out to a business to ask a question or resolve an issue. Gone are the days of “one size fits all” contact centers. Expert, personalized customer care is now the rule rather than the exception.

Modern Customer Collaboration (or Customer Interaction, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, or even “contact center”) solutions are meeting this challenge by evolving to address not only my friend’s new-found customer service requirements, but the ongoing needs of consumers who stepped into the 21st century long before he did.

Support for current and future mobile applications is critical. Just about every company Read More »

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Get Your WLAN Ready for Google Android L and Apple iOS 8

July 24, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

This fall your wireless networks will experience many devices upgrading to the new Android 5.0(L-release) and Apple iOS 8 releases (cue: IT managers groan). There have now been many blogs attempting to capture the enhancements expected with these releases. Today I am going to focus on describing how Android L and iOS 8 may affect customers deploying Cisco enterprise grade Wi-Fi networks based upon our research and testing of the Apple seed. Our verdict: Carry on with business as usual.

Here are four features we predict will have the most impact your networks:

1. Chromecast and Google Cast Enhancements (Android L)

Rishi Chandra, the Director of Chromecast Product Management announced that, starting with the Android L release, users have the ability to cast to your neighboring devices such as a TV without having to connect to your Wi-Fi network. In the demo, a phone used the cellular connection to connect to chromecast through the cloud. A variety of techniques are used to authenticate the users in the same room OR use a pin-code as an alternative. Users can Google Cast an ecosystem of applications or even their own applications over any Android or iOS device as well as Cloud based apps on Chrome.

Predicted Impact: Given that this feature works transparently to the Wi-Fi, it is expected that there is no impact on the WLAN in your classrooms or dorm rooms or auditoriums where this will most likely be used.

2. Peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery and playback (iOS 8)

Starting with the iOS 7.1 release, AirPlay devices will discover an AppleTV via the bluetooth network. Users could also secure their AppleTV via a 4 digit pin-code. With the iOS 8 release, Airplay devices can also mirror their content via Airdrop. This feature offers an alternative method for customers to discover and mirroring of Bonjour traffic without accessing the corporate Wi-Fi network.

Predicted Impact: Again this feature operates transparent to the Wi-Fi and therefore customers using this feature should not see any impact on the WLAN. Cisco wireless customers also have the ability to use the Service Discovery Gateway on Cisco IOS based switches, routers or wireless LAN controllers or the Bonjour Services Directory on AireOS controllers. Read More »

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Apple iOS 8 and MAC Randomization: What It means for Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Solution

As you may have read, Apple’s iOS 8 will come with some changes to the way MAC addresses are exposed in Wi-Fi probe requests. Apple’s intent was to provide an additional layer of privacy for consumers and target those companies that offer analytics without providing any value to the end consumer. We’ve been getting some questions about what this means and how it impacts our Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX)  solution, so we wanted to clear this up for our customers.

What does this mean for you? 

First and foremost, Cisco has always been dedicated to privacy for our customers and their end-users. There are four aspects of privacy that are built into our CMX solution:

1. Anonymous Aggregate Information: All analytics are based on aggregate, anonymized location data.

2. Permission-based: Users have to opt-in to join a Wi-Fi network or download an app

3. MAC Address Hash: Users’ MAC addresses can be hashed before exposing to 3rd party apps

4. Opt Out: End-users are always presented with the option to opt out of location-based services

The true value of CMX analytics for organizations is in aggregate location data to be used for business analysis to improve the customer experience for end-users. Providing customers with high performing Wi-Fi not only keeps always-on mobile users happy and opens the doors to delighting customers with more personalized experiences, but also helps provide more granularity to those aggregate trends to feed back into the experience creation machine. Win-win.

What does this mean for our CMX value proposition? Read More »

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