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Analytics Opens a Window into Each Shopper’s Journey

The key to retail today is customer understanding —where each customer stands on his or her personal shopping journey, whether in-store or out. Retailers must “know” each shopper as never before. And they must offer the kinds of contextual, personally relevant experiences that will optimize their merchandise mix, create faster inventory turns, and drive greater customer engagement.

After all, the typical customer today is mobile, connected, and has heightened expectations. Many are accustomed to a deeper level of real-time interaction from innovative online retailers than from traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Yet, as a recent Cisco study revealed, offline retailers – or retailers that combine on and offline capabilities – have their own unique advantages – if they step up to the opportunities of the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy. By blending the benefits of the physical store — such as the ability to touch, compare, and try on products — with the benefits of the virtual world, retailers can create a new value proposition that can’t be matched by their online-only competitors. In the process, they not only drive their own industry’s disruption but challenge for market leadership.

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Focusing on customers’ top digital journeys

I’ve often written about how we optimize to our Customers’ and Partners’ top journeys across our web sites and mobile apps. We’ve found that focusing relentlessly on the top things that visitors do with us online (versus following the latest cool digital fads) helps us stay grounded.  Customers and Partners drive their own journeys, and we’re reminded of this every time we run a user test with them or  look at the analytics from our sites.

Following this “top tasks” approach, we’ve been able to raise usability scores in key areas like Support by as much as 65 or 70%.  And, in areas where we still have challenges — as all sites do, by the way — the focus on top tasks keeps a spotlight on the work we have ahead.

I mention this again because usability luminary Gerry McGovern has recently published a nicely detailed overview of our top tasks approach on It’s a great inside look at the process we follow, and is a great read if you’re interested in quality improvement or customer satisfaction in the digital space.

The techniques we’ve followed here for web sites and mobile also apply more broadly to omni-channel experiences, of which digital tasks are usually core. We’ve been exchanging notes with teams in other companies around this topic of measuring top tasks and journeys, and would love to hear about the experiences from you!

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IoE-Powered Business Transformation Boosts Agility and Efficiency for Oil and Gas Companies

This week I’m attending CERAWeek, the premier international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials, policymakers, and innovators. While this is the 34th annual CERAWeek conference, the mood is definitely not “business as usual.” The disruption and uncertainty created by plunging oil prices and shifting market dynamics has created the urgency throughout the industry to rethink strategies and adopt connected technologies to spur operational efficiencies.

But disruption can also create opportunity. Forward-thinking oil and gas (O&G) firms see today’s turbulent market as an opportunity to gain competitive advantage by harnessing new technologies. For example, in the Eagle Ford region in North America, improved drilling technologies are now enabling oil rigs to produce 18 times more efficiently than in 2008, and 65 percent more efficiently than in 2013.

A new study by Cisco highlights the opportunity to achieve even greater efficiencies through transformed business models and digital technologies powered by the Internet of Everything (IoE)—the networked connection of people process, data, and things.

With IoE, oil and gas firms have the opportunity to make IT services a commodity in the business, creating the potential for dramatic cost reduction and improved operational efficiency. The illustration below shows several ways O&G operations can benefit from connected technologies. To achieve these benefits, however, they will need to bring together both the IT and the operational technology (OT) sides of the business. Our survey indicates that oil and gas firms have a long way to go in breaking down the barriers between IT and OT. In fact, only 41 percent of respondents “completely” or “somewhat” agreed that their firms’ IT and OT strategies are aligned.


Source: Cisco, 2015

Here are some examples of how IT-OT convergence can impact the areas of data, collaboration, and cybersecurity: Read More »

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A Turning Point for Oil and Gas: Managing Through Turbulence to Digital Transformation

This is a big week for the global energy industry, as thousands of energy leaders, experts, technologists, and policymakers gather in Houston, Texas, for the 34th annual CERAWeek conference, the premier international event for the industry. As a corporate sponsor of the event, it’s also a big week for Cisco.

Just last week, Cisco released a new report focused on the need for digital transformation in the oil and gas industry. Based on a survey of oil and gas executives, analysts, and consultants in 14 countries, the paper validates CERAWeek’s “oil day” theme, “Turning Point for the Oil Industry.” For forward-thinking oil and gas companies, the price volatility and turbulence in the market could represent a turning point toward true digital transformation. Read More »

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How Banks Can Begin the Journey to IoE Readiness

Cisco’s recent survey of 7200 banking customers in 12 countries left me with a crystal-clear takeaway: consumers are ready for the Internet of Everything (IoE) — and they want it now.

But to meet that demand, banks need to assess their own capabilities as they begin to light up their own “dark assets” with network connectivity and embark on the journey to IoE readiness.

In our survey, we tested five key IoE-enabled banking concepts related to advice (virtual financial advice, virtual mortgage advice, and automated financial advice) and mobility (branch recognition and mobile payments). These concepts resonated with customers globally: 75 percent of all respondents would move their money to another provider for one or more of the five concepts. And while the interest is significant everywhere, in emerging markets, respondents are twice as likely to move their money. Read More »

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