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Driving Agility and Innovation Through Software

User Experience - RetailIn the US, this is the time of year when holiday shopping kicks into high gear. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, retailers begin their big push to drive nearly a quarter of their annual revenue. And whether their customers are online or inside a traditional store, retailers today have the ability to understand shopper behavior better than ever before. This information – from purchasing patterns and advertising effectiveness to dwell times and foot traffic – allows retailers to provide their customers with a more personalized, richer digital experience that’s more likely to result in a sale. It’s a win-win. And it’s made possible through an intelligent network that manages the data analytics, location information, security, and mobility applications that drive a more enhanced and personalized user experience.

Software plays an integral role in this intelligent network. Whether it’s driving data virtualization and analytics, for example, or enabling an application-centric private and hybrid cloud, or providing comprehensive threat protection – software plays a vital role. But even more than that, software enables businesses to be more agile and innovative with market and technology transitions.

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“Invisible change” in your favorite web sites

November 25, 2014 at 7:02 am PST

My colleague Bill Skeet published an interesting blog a few weeks ago about “Invisible Change” — the improvement and innovation that happens quietly in digital experiences such as web sites and mobile apps. You may have noticed — or not noticed — this phenomenon on web sites you visit frequently. For instance, you may have noticed the shopping site Amazon.com updated its web design very recently, and that the new design feels newer and fresher but still retains all of the key functions that you’re familiar with as an Amazon customer. But, if you think back, you’ll realize Amazon.com has been continually changing for years, in thousands and thousands of microsteps.

Cisco.com isn’t Amazon.com, but we also practice this continuual improvement regimen. In his post, Bill lists a number of improvements on Cisco.com that have happened quietly in the last year or so. These range from improved site search, to product search boxes in the support and downloads area, to 7,000 product model pages for support that were added to Cisco.com streamlined tools, and tweaked link labels and terminology to be more understandable. There have also been some significant updates in our online commerce areas for customers and partners.

Because improvements are rolled out incrementally, we have often found that even regular Cisco.com visitors had no idea about all of these changes. But, they were absolutely delighted as they interacted with some of the new features.

If you have a little time over this holiday-laden period of the next few weeks, feel free to spend some time interacting with Cisco.com, and I’ll bet you find at least a half-dozen things you didn’t notice before.

Enjoy!

P.S. If you’re interested in how we drive continual improvements in our web and mobile experiences, one excellent process that we have developed at Cisco is something called our 5-Star Experience program. I’ll be writing about this in the near future, but here’s a sneak preview encapsulated into one graphic:

5-Star

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IoT Tipping Point Propels Digital Experience Era

Call me an optimist.

We are fortunate today to watch the dawn of the Digital Experience era as the world becomes digitally more and more connected.

Consider that there are already 3 billion of us connected to the Internet. Imagine what the next 4 billion can help us do as they connect.

Even greater change could result as the everyday “things” around us – bus stops, parking spaces, and street lights – get connected. I’ve seen predictions that 20, 50, even over 200 billion more things will be connected in the next couple years. Just think of the tremendous possibilities that could result from that amount of connectivity and collaboration happening around this planet.

What’s rapidly unfolding before us is the Internet of Everything – the intelligent connection of people, process, data, and things. Studies show that the Internet of Everything can drive $19 trillion worth of economic benefit for this planet. To put that into perspective, that’s almost as large as the U.S. and China economies combined. What is your country’s, community’s, or business’ portion of that?

But what fuels my optimism are the social, cultural, and environmental benefits waiting on the horizon — if we accelerate and if we change. With more efficiency and less waste, we human beings can benefit, as can our planet.

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A Simple Update To Our Cisco.com Menus

April 8, 2014 at 7:12 pm PST

MM-Mouseover Bar

Did you notice the recent change to the menus on Cisco.com?  We call them “megamenus” — those convenient lists that fly down when you mouse over the masthead bar on any page on Cisco.com. We recently updated the “Products & Services” megamenu on the site to make it more readable and simplify navigation.

Here’s the new improved Products megamenu:

MM-New-April2014

For comparison, the here’s previous version:

MM-previous-March2014

What We Did

Do you notice what’s changed?

  • We reduced the length of the list of product categories so that it’s more readable.
  • We updated the layout so there’s less back-and-forth scanning.
  • We made Solutions and Services a bit more visible.
  • We put Cisco Validated Designs in a more obvious place.
  • We reordered some other things here and there to help us understand traffic patterns.

We think this is a nice simplification for our site-wide mega menus. And, of course, you can still find the full list of all products via the “All Products” list.

Enjoy!

(And, as always, if you have feedback, please send us a note here or at the [+]Feedback link that’s at the bottom of every page.)

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Measuring (and Improving!) Digital Experience

February 10, 2014 at 10:13 am PST

There’s an adage that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” and all of us that are in the business of managing or running things pretty much live by that.

But, how to do you measure something as squishy and ephemeral as an “experience”? And, what experiences are worth managing? At Cisco, we’ve taken a very focused approach to managing the online experience you have in web, mobile and our social media: We focus on customers’ and partners’ top tasks and missions with us, and then we measure relentlessly the success, failure and satisfaction on those. This allows us to reduce complex experiences to a set of trackable numbers that we can manage. We take this approach on big things, like the experience of getting support answers online. In fact, usability guru Gerry McGovern explains this approach to “Top Task Management” in a recent article featuring Cisco’s Bill Skeet. And we also take the “manage the experience approach” on little things — those simple but important tasks that people do with us every day. Read More »

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