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Opportunities and Value Through Data Science (Part 1)

I recently attended the Strata + Hadoop World Conference in San Jose, and came away impressed with the accelerating pace of innovation in the world of Big Data. Companies and startups are innovating in every area of the Big Data value chain – from automating how data is collected, cleaned, and organized; to data governance and management; to data storage using a plethora of NoSQL database technologies; and to the numerous emerging tools for data science. Read More »

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#DigitalTransformation Fueling the Need for Workforce Transformation

Digital disruption is transforming virtually every role in every industry. Every day I see how the proliferation of online, mobile, and social interactions has created the need for completely new marketing strategies—and completely new skillsets for marketing professionals. We can see this same disruption across industries, as the Internet of Everything (IoE) creates fundamental transformation through the networked connection of people, process, data, and things.

For example, we recently published a new report that shows a global oil and gas (O&G) industry awash with disruption, and primed for digital transformation. Low oil prices have upended the sector, spurring an urgent rethinking of strategy by oil and gas executives—and accelerating the adoption of IoE.

This disruption is one of many factors impacting the oil and gas workforce today—from field workers all the way to the executive suite. Not only will new skills be required in an industry transformed by IoE, but new digital processes will also be needed to transfer knowledge, collaborate to solve problems in real time, and capture insights from a torrent of digital data.

To become agile enough to compete in the IoE Era, the oil and gas workforce must possess a mix of technical skills, industry knowledge, and business acumen. With talent shortages due to massive numbers of professionals retiring over the next few years—and a lack of necessary digital skills among those who remain— O&G firms need to make bold moves to transform their workforce strategy.

  1. Extend the reach of existing expertise –Video-based collaboration can help bridge the expected talent gap by making the most of professional expertise that is spread too thin, as well as providing ongoing training throughout the organization. Video and web collaboration can effectively bring remote experts to any location, without the need for travel. For example, Saipem, an Italian oilfield services company, has employed high-definition video conferencing to cut travel costs, boost productivity, and provide subject-matter expertise throughout the company and with partners.

Real-time collaboration tools are increasingly important for far-flung oil and gas organizations.

Read More »

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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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Making the Branch Core to Omnichannel, and a Hub for Financial Expertise

I recently returned from a Financial Services Summit event in China, where I discussed trends in an omnichannel delivery strategy with an audience from 30 banks. A central part of my discussion was the notion that things are not changing, they’ve already changed. Consumers across the globe have a heavy appetite for digital services.

Digital consumers across all age groups are adopting new digital behaviors at a faster pace. For example, it took one European bank 10 years to have 20 million hits per month on their website, but when they introduced their new mobile banking app, it only took 1.5 years to reach 20 million hits per month.

In a recent Internet of Everything (IoE) in Financial Services consumer study conducted by Cisco across 12 countries, we saw that in China, there is a high interest for alternative banking solutions. However, this same group of respondents (72 percent) put the branch as their first preference for opening up an account. We saw similarly high scores across Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico. The U.S. consumers came in at 60 percent.

So, what does this tell us? For one, it tells us that we need to not only evolve our mobile strategy but also see the branch as a valuable asset that is complementary to mobile and still core to any omnichannel banking delivery model.

Yes, the branch still matters. From opening up an account, to applying for a car loan or even a mortgage, there is an educational and personal interaction component to that journey. Consumers often feel that they are not fully equipped to make decisions about financial products and services alone and often seek advice and guidance from a trusted banking specialist. Read More »

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Securing Your Industrial Networks by Aligning IT and OT

In the first six months of 2013, 53 percent of cybersecurity incidents were in the energy sector, according to the Department of Homeland Security. As cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly prevalent in industries that support our critical infrastructure, it’s crucial that business leaders adopt security process designed to address these new threats. Are you ready?

While I was at CERAWeek last month, former US Secretary of Energy, Daniel B. Poneman, and Under Secretary, NPPD, US Department of Homeland Security, Suzanne Spaulding had a  message to attendees. Their message was clear:

Cyber Security is a “C-Suite” topic of Enterprise Risk Management.

Their recommendations are strong: Security needs to be baked it in from the beginning! Physical and Cyber Security and Secure Coding of Software!

• Implement Layered Protection; we cannot depend on just a perimeter defense
• Apply Cyber Security Framework: 1. Assess, 2. Protect, 3. Detect, 4. Respond, 5. Recover
• Attend to the nexus of Physical and Cyber Security
• Test your response, including business recovery and continuity

Digital strategy and business strategy are becoming one and the same. Forward-looking energy firms see opportunity in today’s turbulent market and seek to pull ahead by changing their operating models through the Internet of Everything (IoE). Transformative digital technologies have to potential to deliver many advantages to O&G firms, including increased business agility and risk awareness, lower cost of operations, and reduced downtime. But before the industry can embrace these new strategies, an effective, end-to-end cybersecurity approach—including alignment between IT and OT—is needed.

Security a Catalyst for Transformation
Digital transformation means that a range of new and diverse devices are connecting to industrial oil and gas networks, generating greater amounts of data. When managed effectively, this data delivers the right information to the right place, at the right time, helping create a competitive advantage. However, as the IoE proliferates, the accompanying explosion of devices and applications will lend itself to increased areas of attack that criminals will seek exploit.

Oil and gas companies must replace traditional approaches like physical segmentation and security by obscurity. They need an integrated approach where information flows in real time to enable immediate action. Cybersecurity doesn’t need to be an inhibitor. It should be the catalyst for new ways of working. It can help oil and gas companies work more safely and better protect the environment by obtaining remote visibility and control over operations, including processes in refineries. It can make processes more efficient, increase production and reduce overall costs.

Addressing the Entire Threat Continuum
Cyber-attacks occur on a continuum of before, during, and after. The same digital hyper-connectivity that oil and gas managers use to collect data and control machines and processes, can also allow cyber attackers to get into system networks and steal or alter classified information, disrupt processes and cause damage to equipment. Threats to a company’s information systems and assets could come from anywhere. State and non-state actors from around the globe are constantly working to penetrate the networks of energy providers and other critical infrastructures in the U.S.

Energy firms must address this entire continuum with a visibility-driven, threat -focused, and platform-based framework:

  • Visibility-driven means having an accurate, real-time view of the network fabric, endpoints, mobile devices, applications, virtual environments, the cloud, and their interrelationships. High visibility allows you to make sense of billions of devices, applications, and their associated information, while helping you see an attack coming, control the environment, and mitigate threats.
  • Threat-focused means focusing on detecting, understanding, and stopping threats. Policies and controls reduce the surface area of attack, but threats still get through. Focusing on threats can help you identify threats and indicators of compromise based on a well-honed understanding of normal and abnormal behavior. This requires continuous analysis and real-time cybersecurity intelligence across all technologies. With contextual awareness, you can identify false-positives and assess the impact of a threat.
  • Platform-based means we have an integrated system of agile and open platforms that cover the network, devices and the cloud. It is a true platform of scalable, easy-to-deploy services and applications. You gain powerful end-to-end visibility with centralized management for unified policy and consistent controls

Securely Converge IT and OT
As oil and gas companies embrace the IoE, they bring together the use of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). Security needs to be as pervasive and applied in a unified way across the extended network. Physical and cybersecurity solutions must work intelligently together to reduce unauthorized system access – in order to protect networks, devices, applications, users and data. For example, in many oil and gas companies today, upstream and downstream domains use different solutions for common tasks such as asset performance management. In addition, OT is often managed autonomously from IT, even for critical functions such as reliability and cybersecurity.

Cisco has the broadest set of solutions covering the broadest set of attack vectors, leveraging both global and local intelligence. Cisco’s Secure Ops Solution is helping oil and gas companies secure industrial control networks by combining on-premises technology, processes, and managed services. For example, Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) was challenged with increasing its security maturity level. By implementing the Secure Ops Solution, Shell was able to improve its cyber security and risk management, lowering costs of delivery while significantly reducing its costs of securing the process control systems that keep billions of pounds of toxic material under control. Cisco Secure Ops Solution provides remote proactive monitoring and Service-Level-Agreement (SLA) driven management of security, applications and infrastructure, making it easier to:

• Manage cyber-security risk.
• Support compliance.
• Secure the perimeter between enterprise and operational networks.
• Implement and maintain layered security controls

How can Cisco help your energy organization? Read More »

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