NRF 2014 was held last week at the Javits Centre in New York City. It’s the biggest retail event of the year where vendors show off the future of the industry to all the delegates both using inspiring key notes and exciting demos on the Expo floors.
2014 and beyond:
It wasn’t too hard to identify that there were some common themes. On Tuesday afternoon I stood on the main Expo floor and just looking around I could quickly see the industry’s top of mind phrases and buzz words popping out:
Big data seems to be everywhere these days. Everywhere you look there are new companies and technologies that promise to crunch up enormous databases and instantly extract from them knowledge and understanding. Although that sounds impressive, it raises the question – how can that help me and my business? How does fitting an N degree polynomial to a CRM database help me grow my business?
At Cisco, we’ve taken a very practical approach to big data. We started by asking our customers: what do they want to know? What information would help our customers’ better manage their sites, optimize their operations and grow their business? We took those questions and built Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Analytics around them.
Wouldn’t a store manager want to know how many of his customers were new? Did that new marketing campaign launched last month really drive new visitors to the store? Or another example, let’s say the layout of the store was just changed, wouldn’t the manager want to know if it was effective? Did people spend more time in the store? How about better understanding your customer base? Which web sites do my visitors visits? And of course retail isn’t the only segment that would like to know things. Wouldn’t an airport want to know how long people wait in the security line? Would a train station like to know how long before the train leaves people come into store?
Cisco’s CMX Analytics takes anonymous device location data gathered by the Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE), and leverages that data to provide clear, concise and relevant information. In order to make the data easier to visualize, we have recently enhanced our user interface adding many features that help users immediately and intuitively grasp the data. Our new dashboard enables every user to customize the views they wish to see and prioritize which data is meaningful to them. Our new Path engine enables customers to visualize how many people walk through the different paths in their venue. Our new reports can tell our customers everything from how many people are using their Wi-Fi to which floor people spend the most time in. These are just a few examples of the many innovations pouring into out CMX Analytics platform. Read More »
The numbers coming out month after month show that we seem to be tracking a slow but steady recovery. As I’ve said before, I’m cautiously optimistic about the manufacturing sector – especially in the USA.
On Thursday (3rd January, 2013), ADP1 said construction added 39,000 positions in December, second only to trade and transportation utilities, which grew 53,000. Medium- and larger-sized businesses led the way with 102,000 and 87,000 new jobs respectively
Overall, Employers added 1.84 million jobs in 20112, the most in five years. In the first 11 months of 2012, employers added 1.67 million. Job gains would have to top 170,000 in December to push 2012 ahead of the previous year. Some economists do expect gains at that level or higher.
Even in Asia things are looking up. In the New Year we learned about China’s services growth3, as China’s official purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the non-manufacturing sector rose to 56.1 in December from 55.6 in November, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Other PMIs on the manufacturing sector suggest China’s growth is starting to pick up based on late 2012 data. Not the heady double-digit growth of earlier years, but increases none-the-less. Construction was also up, though all of this growth is partly owing to government investment. The Friday (4th January 2013) HSBC PMI report shows slower growth as it mainly focuses on the private sector. The HSBC report4 showed a softening from 52.1 to 51.7. As you know above 50 is still good. India’s looking good too re PMI for last month! Read More »
In my most recent blog “U.S. manufacturing: is it sustainable?“, I referenced an article about how U.S. manufacturing has been leading the economy out of the depths of the Great Recession. The authors put forward a thesis with supporting data that suggest Americans believe the manufacturing industry is the basis for wealth creation and is fundamental to a sustained and successful U.S. economy.
The rub is that only 30% of Americans said they have or would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.
Why such a discrepancy? An answer to this question is not simple. However, I do believe we must seek that answer and address the gap, if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Being an engineer myself--a manufacturing and controls engineer no less--I know the first and most essential step to a solution is making sure we’ve defined the problem well.
According to the survey, the top three reasons why kids aren’t interested in engineering:
Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 percent).
Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 percent).
They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 percent) to be good at it. This is despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 percent) and science (17 percent) as their favorite subjects.
Survey findings on the adult side:
Only 20 percent of parents have encouraged or will encourage their child(ren) to consider an engineering career.
The vast majority of parents (97 percent) believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.
So, while American children and adults both feel that math and science are important (even enjoyable), there is an ironic disconnect (cognitive dissociation?) between recognizing the importance and committing to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing.