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A Symphony of Sensors Drives Value, Insight, and Opportunity

To cross a busy intersection safely, it’s best to have all of your senses alert. That way, if you don’t happen to see that oncoming truck ignoring the “Walk” sign, you will probably still hear it. In the case of a heavy cement mixer, you may even feel the low rumble of its powerful engine first.

In the Internet of Everything (IoE), a similar principle applies. We call it “sensor fusion,” and it involves combining two or more sensors — often of different types — to monitor a specific environment and offer actionable insights more intelligently. These could be cameras and Wi-Fi tags or weight-sensing shelves and ultrasonic imaging, to name just two combinations. Moreover, the combined sensor data can itself be fused with other information streams — for example, those relating to weather, operations, news, or social media.

The result? Highly informed, real-time decision making and richer customer experiences.

Until recently, sensor fusion has been mostly exploited in specialized devices such as robots, but it is now driving a revolution in enterprise systems. This will bring new life to entire industries and completely transform stores, manufacturing floors, and transportation corridors. By greatly improving the accuracy of their measurements, organizations will be able to offer rich new experiences and gain substantial competitive advantage.

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From the Mine Shaft to the Store Shelf — an IoE Revolution in Manufacturing

Since Henry Ford, the alchemy of turning raw materials into mass-produced products has been complicated and challenging. At best, it has been a delicate and precarious balancing act; at worst, something akin to herding cats.

The trick has always been to align ever-shifting patterns of customer demand with far-flung ecosystems of miners, designers, suppliers, engineers, factory workers, truck drivers, sellers, and so forth. Yet the process of orchestrating such intricate value chains has often been based on art (hunches) more than science (data).

Today, however, the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the ongoing explosion in networked connectivity among people, process, data, and things — is transforming manufacturing in startling ways, just as it is changing so many other industries.

IoE delivers seamless, intelligent connections to every corner of the manufacturing value chain, optimizing the flow of products, information, and payments in real time.

The Cisco IoE Value Index study found that in 2013, manufacturing had the largest potential share of IoE Value at Stake, at $224 billion. Yet, it was poised to realize only 46 percent of that potential bottom-line value.  The key to closing that gap lies in much-improved machine-to-machine and machine-to-people connections, resulting in smart factories, smart grids, and connected supply chains, among many other IoE-related innovations.

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Cisco Helps Make Brand Loyalty a Slam Dunk for the NBA

In a world of digital distractions and shrinking attention spans, brand loyalty and customer engagement often wind up “out of bounds.” But forward-thinking organizations — including the National Basketball Association (NBA) — are using technology to create some exciting new scoring opportunities.

One of the keys to establishing brand loyalty lies in enabling an experience that sparks an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. The NBA is a great example of an organization with an ardent fan base whose loyalty is based on an emotional bond. But to transform that passion into higher merchandise sales and social media buzz, the NBA has been adopting some unique concepts.

Some of this innovation will be on display at the NBA All-Star Jam Session, which will take place in New Orleans, February 13-16. There, the NBA is deploying Cisco’s Virtual Mirror done with partner C-InStore. The full-length mirror enables shoppers to see enhanced virtual images of themselves. And while Cisco’s Virtual Mirror might not make a customer look 7 feet tall (yet), it will render an image of him or her wearing the official All-Star jersey, shorts, and other licensed apparel. That digital snapshot can then be shared with friends and family, capitalizing on the excitement of being at the event. Those who engage with the mirror will also receive a 20-percent discount off event merchandise, redeemable through a coupon sent automatically to their phones.

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School Days 2.0: Connected, Borderless, and Highly Inclusive

Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study’ em hard and hopin’ to pass

Chuck Berry’s old hit “School Days” sums up an educational model that has persisted since the 1800s — if not since Aristotle. Students and their classmates sit within the same walls and absorb rote knowledge from one teacher at a time. And woe to those who fail to show up for the morning bell or to follow the lesson plan!

But if you think your own school days are a model for the future, get ready for a whole new lesson plan. Just as the Internet of Everything (IoE) is disrupting so many other areas of our lives (not to mention business models), its ever-expanding wave of network connectivity promises to upend education as well.

After all, when people, process, data, and things are linked in startling new ways, radical transformation follows. Within the context of learning, the very definition of schools, students, teachers, and classrooms is being challenged. Now, your classroom is wherever you happen to be, and your lessons take place when you want them — all thanks to a convergence of IoE cornerstones such as mobility, media-rich collaboration tools, cloud, and analytics.

Cisco predicts that the IoE Value at Stake will be $4.6 trillion for the public sector worldwide over the next decade. Of that total, $258 billion in value will come from Connected Education.

 

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The Key to the Connected World? The Programmable World

Your house-cleaning robot connects to your lighting system, which connects to your garage door, which connects to your car. All of these devices in turn connect to your smartphone, which, among many other things, enables YOU to connect to a community of like-minded, creative souls looking for — you guessed it — better ways to connect and program things.

This is just a small glimpse into how the Internet of Everything (IoE) is transforming our lives. With its explosion in connectivity — from 10 billion “things” today to 50 billion in 2020 — IoE is changing the world in complex and challenging ways. But there are also exciting opportunities to manage the complexity, share ideas, and drive ever-higher levels of innovation and collaboration.

One name for this new paradigm is the Programmable World.

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