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Five Ways To Start Using Big Data

Just when we feel we are drowning in information, along comes Big Data to save the day. Big Data refers to a dataset so large it is beyond the capability of a typical database to manage and make use of the information. But a set of advances in hardware and software now allows us to rapidly capture, organize, and make sense of vast oceans of data, enabling us to apply the results to make better business decisions.

Big Data can give us a strategic advantage. For example, investors could see global trends in trading across sectors in near-real time; they could respond much earlier to a downturn in prices in a given sector, avoiding the steep losses incurred by taking later action.

Big Data can also create a richer experience for customers. Bloomberg.com gathers more than 100 data points from every page an individual reader views, processing the data with 15 algorithms to personalize recommendations. Algorithms that understand natural language and rich media and can reason make Big Data technology even more useful in decision making. Novel visualization paradigms, 3D, and gesture interfaces make Big Data understandable and accessible to everyone.

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In Between the Numbers: Big Pipes and Lean Stores

June 24, 2011 at 9:02 am PST

 Thinking about the ICT future of the store with my colleague Bharat Popat.  Doodling at the mental whiteboard.

 Current state in the lower left.  It’s client-server architecture. Three to six servers per store, depending upon segment and store size. Fat-client POS and desktops. Fans and hard drives. Ongoing break-fix maintenance contracts.  A network pipe just big enough to each night send out batched transactions, inventory, and other performance data, and download the price-item files, promotions, and performance reports.

 Now, a line from the lower left current state all the way to the upper right future.  From the “as is” to the “will be.”  Figuring three to five years.  An assumption that a retailer will want to lead the segment and compete worldwide. 

 Hmmm.

 Grab the pen and draw the line, and as you do so, calculate the evolution of technology and of consumer expectations.  Calculate the impact of global e-commerce, of multi-channel and omni-channel, of smart phones and tablets, of social networks and social shopping.

 Calculate the impact of content clouds and IP video, of augmented reality and “mashops” of virtual into the physical. Calculate the impact of right time data analysis. Calculate dynamic video messaging.

 Calculate how to cut time-to-capability down to weeks, not years.  Calculate how to do more and spend less.

 Now multiply it all by the demographic weight of the tech-savvy Millennial generation.  

 Do the math.  Yes, I’m prejudiced -- I’m a proud Cisco guy.  But it’s the math (not the badge) that leads me to this future state: a retail store that’s a living, breathing website.

 A retail store that’s built on a lean, network-based architecture and a significant increase in network capacity to and from the store.  

 Lean store and big pipe.  

 More about these calculations in weeks ahead.

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Telework: Why the Federal Workforce Could Be Efficient and Green

The federal government is a perennial target, always subject to accusations of waste and inefficiency, among other allegations. But recent developments in technology and new legislation hold out hope for a more efficient, effective, and greener federal workforce. The U.S. Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 generated tremendous momentum toward increasing workforce mobility options for federal employees. The act paves the way for the federal government to unlock significant benefits, including greater productivity, resilience, environmental sustainability, and employee inclusion. It creates accountability for achieving these objectives in the form of telework managing officers (TMOs), senior officials responsible for telework policy development and implementation.

Realizing these objectives will require a significant departure from current practice. To date, agencies have focused on increasing telework participation rates through advertising, employee training, and resolution of technological barriers. Meaningful progress toward the act’s other goals-including emergency readiness, energy use, recruitment and retention, performance, and productivity-will require moving past first-generation strategies aimed at increasing telework participation rates and, instead, pursuing integrated mobility strategies explicitly linked to agency business objectives.

TMOs should not view the act as just another administrative burden that requires compliance. As the first TMOs assume their roles, they have a unique opportunity to use workforce mobility-including telework and a broader range of tools and systems to enable productivity anywhere, anytime, and on any device-as a catalyst to create a more flexible, productive, and inspiring federal workplace.

Achieving this vision requires a sober assessment of the current situation, an ambitious, goal-driven strategy linked to agency business objectives, and a new management posture aimed at transforming mindsets and behaviors rather than resolving technological challenges.

For perspectives on these issues, read the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) white paper, “Telework: Achieving Higher Levels of Federal Employee Productivity, Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability.”

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The Global E-Commerce Gold Rush Is On!

E-commerce is going global as retailers from around the world take advantage of faster growth trends to discover riches overseas. For many brick-and-mortar and pure-play retailers, however, expanding e-commerce into a foreign country is unknown territory.

The common questions I get from retailers who want to start new country website operations include: Where should I expand, and in what order? How do I adjust my practices to meet different cultural norms?  Which functions should be located at headquarters versus locally? How should the entire operation be governed?

To address these concerns and more, Cisco IBSG conducted in-depth interviews with leading e-commerce executives at many of the top global retailers and suppliers to understand the best practices they use to ensure online success globally. The resulting information described in a recently published paper titled, “The Global E-Commerce Gold Rush: How Retailers Can Find Riches Overseas” is pure gold for retailers wanting to grow global revenues with e-commerce.

Best practices include:

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The Future of Television: Sweeping Change at Breakneck Speed

Have you ever wished you could watch the news on the bathroom mirror while you get ready for work? Wave your hand to order a pizza from an irresistible commercial? Not only watch shows, but smell, feel, and taste them, too? Turn your TV viewing into an immersive experience that allows you to engage with characters outside of the storyline and see additional scenes based on your profile and preferences? Well, you might be able to do these things and more in the not-too-distant future.

Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) interviewed 50 TV experts and examined three industry drivers -- technology, consumer behavior, and business models -- to paint a picture of what the future of TV will look like. Our point of view offers the first holistic vision of the future across all key dimensions of the television industry and sheds new light on the likelihood and timing of innovation.

Today, I unveiled our predictions on what the future of television might look like during my keynote presentation at OTTCon -- a trade show that hosts executives from the most innovative technology, media, and entertainment companies including PayTV operators, content producers, consumer electronics manufacturers, media aggregators and service providers.

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