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Moving Beyond Connecting People to Delivering Engaging Interactive Experiences

As organizations move toward digital transformation, they are embracing the benefits of delivering timely, personalized information to customers, citizens, and patients. Connecting people with information and services when, where, and how they want, is a pivotal point in the way organizations process, apply data and deliver that information.

Given my busy schedule, I appreciate a shopping experience that is hassle-free and fast. I also want the information I need about a product or service to be easy to find.  And for that matter, I expect that a retailer knows what I am looking for and provides relevant promotions and discounts. These rising expectations have been born out of leading digital retailers and now that the bar has been set – anything that falls short feels like a disappointment.

Customer Experience

Today’s shoppers are looking for efficiency,  ease in problem-solving, and faster time to purchase. They want to take advantage of savings through discounts and promotional offers and they want to be engaged when learning about new items, entertainment, and product options.  To address these growing expectations, Cisco and Panasonic are partnering to transform the shopping experience through their Powershelf solution. The solution enables brick and mortar retailers to automate inventory tracking and pricing data, helping them optimize their supply chain and better manage demand.  In addition, real-time product information can be delivered to a customer’s mobile device.

Citizen Experience

The future involves much more than improving customer engagement. Cities are challenged with delivering enhanced citizen services and information on a limited budget.  In the face of inclement weather and emergencies, it is critical that cities link dispatch, first responders and the community with timely, accurate information. For example, the City of Mississauga is leveraging sensors and wireless connectivity to make these connections, analyze trends and share information between citizen services, public communications, and operations.

As more and more citizens prefer to receive information and updates via their mobile devices, this integrated public service system will allow cities to put a request into action quickly and efficiently and provide real-time updates.  Now, the City of Mississauga can deploy operations teams and emergency services faster, enable new services without recognizing an increase in IT budget and improve public safety with immediate, actionable information.

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7 Simple Best Practices for Digital A/B Tests

You might know that many companies run “tests” in their web and mobile experiences, where they’ll pit one design, layout, or content set against another. It’s a way to see quickly which one works best.  For instance, you might have one page with a slick graphic at the top, vs another one with text and a form at the top, to see which one gets the best interaction and form completion. At Cisco, we’ve been doing this at a component level for a while, and have begun to do these kinds of test with whole pages on These tests help us understand which of two experiences is the easiest and most straightforward to use, and then we can apply that knowledge to our page designs in general.

But, it’s easy to over-complicate testing, which can lead sometimes to results that are hard to interpret or that generate too much data that can’t be readily analyzed.  So, I asked our team on the Digital Support Experience to give us their best practices for how to plan page vs page tests the right way. Here are some great tips from the teams:

  1. Identify your success metrics (“Overall Evaluation Criteria,” see below) at the beginning of your planning, so you can make clear the #1 thing your are optimizing for.
  2. Establish Baseline performance for the KPIs/success metrics before you start the test. (understand where you’re starting from — how were things performing before the test?)
  3. Before the experiment starts, state what will happen if the test a) succeeds, b) is inconclusive, c) fails.
  4. Don’t do two new competing designs for A and B. A better model is to use the current design as “A” and a new design as “B” so you have a good control group.
  5. Limit the number of variables that differ between the two versions.
  6. Let the experiment run long enough to get a volume of data on the key items that will yield statistical confidence in the result.
  7. Validate setup with an “A/A” test. The purpose of this is to check that your “system” for branching the users isn’t itself adding in a bias. (If you do a split of incoming users and you are directing them to pages that are exactly the same and you don’t get equal results, then your A/B branching system is adding bias itself.)

Overall Evaluation Criteria

“Overall Evaluation Criterion (OEC) forces you to ask the question: “what are you optimizing for?”

To do it right, only one OEC (think KPI) should be specified for your test. The reason for just one criterion is that multiple criteria can lead to muddy results. Version A improved KPI #1 but version B improved KPI #2 so which one was better? Therefore, it’s crucial to to specify one and only one KPI and optimize for that.

And, an Ultra-Tip

Perhaps the top tip of all is to improve your designs, content, and journeys based on the tests that you run. And, if you don’t understand why a particular experience is performing in a certain way, it’s probably time to supplement your A/B testing with some observational usability tests, so you can watch users interact with (and comment on) the experience they’re having. Test similar experiences on other sites, too, and you’ll a fuller picture.

What Do You Think?

Have you been running A/B and other kinds of tests on your digital experiences? What tips would you offer to your colleagues?

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No More Bankers’ Hours: Join the Live Chat

“Bankers’ hours” started disappearing with the advent of ATMs in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, online and mobile access has made the transactional side of banking a 24/7, anytime, any place proposition. And that’s just the beginning. Innovative financial institutions and startups are also bringing disruptive new business models to deliver higher value banking interactions, such as financial advice and wealth management. The drive to the branch has been replaced by the drive to digital.

How can financial institutions stay ahead of this wave of disruption? I hope you’ll join me @pdjameson on the upcoming #CiscoChat to tackle that question next Tuesday, November 3rd at 1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST. Together, we’ll consider such questions as:

  • In an age of commoditized transactions, how can banks differentiate themselves?
  • Where should banks focus as they seek to evolve their current business models?
  • What kinds of on-demand services do customers want?
  • What’s the key to winning wallet share of the digital customer?

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Digital Vortex Part 2: Key Tenets of a Digital Business Network

Yesterday was “Back to the Future Day.” Michael J. Fox had a glimpse into his futuristic world. What if you too had the same capability? Imagine this: you’re an astronaut on a time travel space mission. You come upon a futuristic world years from today, and this is what you see.

A vortex of insurmountable forces sucking you and the surrounding environment into the abyss. Yet you’re still attached to the present. You still have control. (It is a visual presentation of a Digital Vortex, working its way into becoming a black hole putting your business at risks.)

A vortex of insurmountable force is sucking you and the surrounding environment into the abyss, yet you’re still attached to the present. You still have control. (It is a visual presentation of a Digital Vortex, working its way into becoming a black hole, putting your business at risks.) Image Source: Lightfarm Studios

Armed with this vision, what would you do if today, October 22, 2015, is your “Back to the Future” day?

This is a continuation of a previous post by Hugo Vliegen, Digital Vortex, Part I: How Not to Be the 40% That Will Fail. (Re-read that post here). In this blog (part II), I will share four key tenets of a digital business network, a.k.a recommendations for the hypothetical NeedToChange company scenario (as referenced in part I).

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A New Model To Innovate in a Digital World

Becoming a digital business requires transforming literally every aspect of your company, including the way you innovate. Because digital business breaks down boundaries between industries and markets—think Uber—innovating within the walls of your organization doesn’t work any longer.

The challenge is that for many years, companies have invested in creating first-class innovation organizations and capabilities. This has resulted in a mindset that innovation is best done within and not without. After all, when you spent millions of dollars creating a capability you are proud of, it’s hard to shift your approach.

Yet changing to a new model is exactly what’s required today. Further, this new model must stretch your boundaries beyond your organization’s four walls, compress learning from years to days, and increase expectations of what’s possible in that short timeframe. Read More »

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