As a global director of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group’s Urban Innovation team, I’ve seen how broadband connectivity can radically transform urban life, while forcing us to rethink our entire approach to designing and managing cities. I recently had the opportunity to share some of my ideas on the subject at the 2011 World Council of UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) in Florence, Italy.
The Council represents nearly half the world’s population, from 36 countries and more than 1,000 cities—everywhere from Istanbul and Dakar to Helsinki and New York. In Florence, more than 400 mayors, along with municipal ministers, directors, innovators and other experts, met to discuss the daunting challenges facing today’s cities, while offering solutions in a creative and interactive forum. Topics ranged from transportation, utilities, and infrastructure to tourism and environmental sustainability.
Mayor Matteo Renzi of Florence, the host of the event, has worked with Cisco on innovation initiatives in his city. In addition to helping him plan the conference, I was granted the opportunity to moderate some sessions on urban innovation. Read More »
Using stores as showrooms for online purchases is the “new normal” for today’s tech- and Internet-savvy shoppers. So how do retailers “catch” these channel-hopping customers and “keep” them buying within their own brand?
The Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) believes retailers can increase sales both in stores and online by creating “mashops” that combine immersive online content with engaging in-store experiences. This idea is backed up by Cisco IBSG’s latest research, which revealed that digital content has reached a new level of influence.
Surprisingly, shoppers now prefer online sources to people when making buying decisions. Read More »
One of the key questions I get from retailers is “How can I use technology to create experiences that inspire my customers to buy more, both in the store and online?” In the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group’s (IBSG) work with leading worldwide retailers, we uncovered what we believe is the answer—the “inspire” trigger. Specifically, inspire triggers are emotionally charged shopping experiences that make customers exclaim, “I never thought of that, let’s buy it,” or, “Wow, I want to by that now.”
From this work, Cisco IBSG developed Cisco StyleMeTM—a virtual fashion mirror that combines augmented reality with the latest mobile and networking technologies to create a fun, new, interactive way to try on clothing and accessories virtually. Cisco StyleMe lets customers visually browse a wide range of products; build outfits; receive expert recommendations; capture images of what they look like to share with friends and family; create a digital wardrobe of items in which they’re interested; and buy their selections in the store or online.
Customer testing shows that Cisco StyleMe is a hit with all types of consumers, but especially with a group that surprised us—shoppers over 50 years of age. The older generation clearly sees the benefits of easily trying on new outfits and getting expert advice, which far outweighs any apprehensions they might have about using the technology.
For retailers, Cisco StyleMe has the potential to 1) grow cross-channel sales by giving customers access to an extended range of inventory and enabling them to buy in-store and online; 2) strengthen customer loyalty by creating differentiated in-store experiences and enabling follow-up with customers after their store visit; and (3) increase conversion rates by allowing customers to receive relevant recommendations and interact with friends and family who influence their buying decisions.
Given the success of Cisco StyleMe, we believe creating rich, digital, cross-channel experiences in the store represents a powerful new way to inspire customers to buy. To get started, ensure your technology infrastructure is up to the task of supporting interactive rich-media experiences. By starting now to ensure your technology infrastructure is up to date, you’ll be in a strong position to capture more sales from customers both online and in your stores.
Key to the development of effective public sector strategies for resilience, innovation, and productivity is the ability to navigate at unprecedented scale and speed, complex and distributed communities (networks) of information, people, and things. By tapping the power of these networks, communities can effectively share ideas, expertise, and knowledge, encouraging richer levels of participation.
Smart City development and services through partnerships, collaboration, and community was a major theme at the London Policy Conference (#lonconf) on December 12-13, 2011. Jointly hosted by IPPR, a leading UK think tank, and London’s new think tank, The Centre for London (incubated by Demos), the conference was a platform and network for all those with an interest in London’s future. Sponsored by Cisco alongside other private and public organizations, senior leaders from the public, NGO, and private sectors convened to discuss the major policy challenges facing London and how its future might be best shaped.
Cloud computing—delivering infrastructure, services, and software on demand via the network—offers attractive advantages to the public sector. For example, it has the potential to reduce information and communications technology (ICT) costs by virtualizing capital assets like disk storage and processing cycles into a readily available, affordable operating expense.
One of the most significant cloud computing opportunities for the public sector is the ability to share ICT resources among multiple agencies. While governments have tried hard to create frameworks geared toward shared services, these have not always been successful. Cloud computing offers an easier and less burdensome route to more efficient and effective public sector information management.
Of course, cloud computing is not without its challenges:
A service provider residing outside of a government’s legal or territorial jurisdiction may put access or security at risk.
Open standards and interoperability may not be guaranteed, leading to the risk of vendor lock-in.
Data privacy is a concern when using public clouds. This can be addressed by the development of private clouds.
Business continuity will continue to be a concern. Cloud computing, however, may also mitigate this risk, as cloud vendors are likely to use more robust and better-maintained computing platforms that provide more redundancy and are less likely to fail.