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Mobile Retail Evolution and Location Based Services


This is part of a series of how location services is a core part of the mobile evolution in various industries. In a previous post I looked at the growth of mobile  location, data and context based advertising, and there is no doubt from the evidence that this market space is already big, and predicted to grow exponentially over the next 4 or 5 years.

While this is very interesting at a macro level, for most of us what does that really mean, what can it be used for, how can we get some value or benefits from it….

Let’s look at this from the point of view of various industries, both looking at the uses of the consumer and of the business in a practical manner.

Today we look at the Retail Industry, and ask a few questions to understand the landscape.

  • How are consumers habits changing
  • What are retailers doing about this
  • What can we expect to see in the coming year(s)?

How are consumer habits changing?

We already know that today over two-thirds of all U.S. consumers have a smartphone (expected to be >90% in about 3 years) and the capabilities that this brings is changing the face of retail business as we know it. Specifically looking at mobile retail and advertising the patterns are undeniable, we as mobile retail consumers are doing things differently and happy to engage and be engaged in new ways.

◦    Remember the coupon cutting days…well mobile coupons are starting to become the norm…recent research among mobile users shows significant numbers redeemed mobile coupons… 41% at grocery stores, 41% at department stores, and 39% @ clothing stores (source: Business Insider 2014) Read More »

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The Cloud Delivers a Better Experience for the Connected Athlete through the Internet of Everything

In the world of sports, becoming the fiercest competitor possible is the name of the game.

Today, the intersection of cloud technology and smart sports equipment is helping athletes and para-athletes perform at a world-class level. As a techie, you might admire the new shock absorbers built for downhill skis so paraplegics can hurl down a mountain at 70mph. Or how can you not marvel at the development of the prosthetic retina that can help blind athletes perform the sports they love?

Another amazing advancement is highlighted in Rick Smolan’s book, The Human Face of Big Data. Sheila Nirenberg, an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, developed a way to enable patients with macular degeneration to see again. Awesome!  As stated in the book:

 “Using an array of high-speed, parallel processing computers, Nirenberg and her team embedded custom software in microprocessors and cameras that will be built into eyeglasses…images captured by the cameras will be translated into code in the form of thousands of pulsing lights, which can be recognized by the brain.”

It won’t be long before today’s visually impaired athletes can use this technology to compete at the highest level. And more than ever, this technology will rely on data that flows quickly and in real-time.

This is where cloud computing plays a key role – allowing data to be easily accessed and stored, so that mobile devices and the peripherals of tomorrow (connected eyeglasses, etc.) can provide new experiences to athletes. These devices will be able to transmit data, communicate to each other (M2M) and relay to the user (M2P) vital information needed for the athlete.

Advancements in medical technology and cloud computing are giving us a new perspective on life

Advancements in medical technology and cloud computing are giving us a new perspective on life

For example, a partially blind, or fully blind cross-country skier may one day have the capabilities through the Internet of Everything (IoE) to communicate through M2P technology while on the course. What will this mean?  Sensors indicating course characteristics (downhill, uphill, turns, starting line/finish line, timing, etc.) will be able to communicate and relay the information in real-time to the skier. These types of mobile-enabled experiences are powered through cloud infrastructure and applications.

Read More »

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The Future of Wireless: Times are Changing Before Our Eyes

We live in amazing times, ask anyone who ever had to look up a phone number in a phone book. In the past this was the only way you could find the number to your favorite restaurant if you wanted to make a reservation. Today, all we need to do is reach into our pocket or purse and grab our mobile device, open an application and in a few seconds (not minutes) we have the phone number. Not only that, but we can see the menu and make a reservation right from the device. Over time we have become dependent on carrying the world (both personal and professional) in our pocket. With mobility, we are always on, always connected: nothing—whether it’s your team’s latest score or that email from a vendor you need to send to your boss—is more than a quick search away.

What once seemed unfathomable, this way of always being connected is now commonplace. However, as the application developers sit and think of the next killer app, the IT team has to make sure the network can not only support this new app, but also assure the performance meets the higher and higher demands of new apps. This requires the network to be more application-aware. And the reality is that more applications that require higher network performance are coming at a faster rate. Add to it new devices that use these applications are becoming accessible to everyone. On top of that, the people that use these applications and devices are becoming more demanding in terms of reliability and experience. So what is an IT person to do?

“We were ahead of the times,” says Joseph Tufano, VP and CIO of St. John’s University. “But times have changed. You see it everywhere: for example, if you go to a basketball game on campus, and there’s a timeout, everybody is using their mobile devices.”

IT is always working to increase the wireless performance of the network. However, as more bandwidth becomes available, users increase their usage and consume that bandwidth. Read More »

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Bring Out Yer Dead: 5 Steps to Eliminate 802.11b From Your Networks

Now that US tax day is over, we in the wireless field can get back to focusing on P1: optimizing and maintaining network performance. Keeping your network in good shape is like gardening: if you don’t pull out the weeds, it’ll never look as good as it could. My friend Jim Florwick detailed the gory bits of the 802.11b penalty with its awful lag in efficiency and absolute waste of spectrum. I write today to help give you the steps to act on Jim’s order to stop the madness.

I liken this process to a memorable scene from Monty Python: You must “Bring out yer dead.” However much the first standard insists it’s still alive, let’s all be honest with ourselves: 802.11b is dead.

In memoriam of the first amendment to the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard hailing all the way since 1999, 802.11b was superseded by 802.11a and g in 2003 which are much more efficient.  802.11n was available in draft form in 2007 and was ratified in 2009 while 802.11ac was ratified last September. A few years from now we should be planning the wake for 802.11a and 802.11g as well.

Now is the right time to bury 802.11b and reduce the drag on your network. Let’s be real: there is a reason cyclists are not allowed on the freeway, and an 802.11b device will slow everyone down. Here are 5 easy steps for eradicating your network of 802.11b and getting on your way towards higher speed wireless:

STEP    1.         Identify any 802.11b devices on your network

All of the latest Wi-Fi connecting devices are 802.11a/b/g/n capable. So how do you hunt down the 802.11b-only devices? You’ll be looking for older laptop and mobile clients (mostly before the year 2005).

Cisco Prime Infrastructure makes this easy for you with a report on clients by protocol. It will look like this:

prime1 Read More »

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Wi-Fi & Taxes: Digging into the 802.11b Penalty

It’s that time of year again in the US – Tax Time!  That time of year where we review the previous year’s bounty, calculate what’s due, and re-evaluate our strategies to see if we can keep more of what we worked for.  Things change; rules, the economy, time to retirement, and before you know it you find yourself working through alternatives and making some new decisions.

Anyway, as I was working through the schedules and rule sheets, my mind wandered and I started to think about Wi-Fi and the taxes associated with it.  In my day job, I often play the role of forensic accountant.  Like a tax accountant, I’m always looking for a way to get more or understand why there isn’t more already.  So along those lines, lets talk about a little known tax that you may well be paying needlessly.  I’m talking of course about the dreaded 802.11b Penalty.

Wi-Fi protocols like 802.11b are referenced by standards committees for the workgroup that develops them.  In the 2.4 GHz spectrum, there is 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n.  Back in 1997, 802.11b  was the first modern Wi-Fi protocol ratified by the IEEE and it allowed transmissions of 11 Mbps, a major jump forward from the previous 2 Mbps  that was possible with the original 802.11 standard.


After 802.11b came 802.11a, and then 802.11g.  Both of these protocols where a radical departure from the simplistic 802.11b structure and employed Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation (now standard in every 802.11 protocol created since then).  OFDM allowed for Read More »

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