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#CiscoChat Explores Mobile Data as the New Currency for Today’s Retailers

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The Internet of Everything (IoE) is driving remarkable change and opportunities across nearly all industries. But few are as visible — and rapid — as the upheavals affecting retail. Today, retailers aren’t just competing with the store across the parking lot. Industry leaders face an expanding universe of mobile and virtual shopping possibilities vying for the attention of their customers.

Recent Cisco retail research shows that mobile commerce grew forty-seven percent in 2014 (Q2), far out-pacing e-commerce (ten percent) and total retail overall (three percent). And it’s not surprising, with nearly every customer using a mobile device of one type or another. Today, eighty percent of shoppers are now classified as “digital.”

Mobile devices — and rapidly evolving customer behaviors — are driving expectations for more fully optimized digital shopping experiences, in store and out. Yet traditional retailers have an exciting opportunity to meet this demand by offering hyper-relevant customer experiences that drive savings, efficiency, and engagement. In merging the best attributes of the physical store with the online experience, brick-and-mortar retailers can drive their own industry disruption. Read More »

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Navigating Dark Data To Find Hidden Value in a Digital Era

Our world is rapidly connecting people, process, data, and things in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is at the heart of this transformation.

As more dark assets are “lit up,” organizations will receive an influx of valuable data that can lead to insights, knowledge, and opportunities. However, much of the data generated will be just beyond reach, frequently referred to as “dark data.” Read More »

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When Clicks Meet Bricks: the Future of the Retail Store

Today’s retailers face a hard truth: their customers have embraced digital technologies faster than they have.

But I believe that retailers have an opportunity to elevate the shopping experience in exciting new ways. By integrating the digital and the physical — in effect, merging clicks with bricks — retailers can capture new revenue, along with loyal, satisfied customers.

First, retailers need to understand a changed landscape. In only the past five years, mobility, analytics, e-commerce, and other technologies have had a profound effect on the entire shopping experience, putting the customer in charge. Traditional retailers must respond with highly relevant experiences that drive greater efficiency, savings, and engagement.

Recently, I shared some thoughts on this topic with Cisco, both for a new global study on retail trends and also in a podcast titled The Last Checkout Line. The U.S. and U.K. findings of Cisco’s study were released early this year and showed some surprising results. As Cisco’s paper emphasized, customers demand a hyper-relevant shopping experience, in which past shopping histories, current contexts, and future plans drive real-time interactions with the retailer, in-store or out.

Some retailers are already excelling in these areas. Sephora, the French cosmetics franchise, is a good example of a retailer that is offering digital and mobile experiences in-store, enabling customers to interact and discover products in new ways while also bridging a seamless connection with the online experience. Other retailers have leveraged analytics to ensure stock availability for individual customers, integrating with other store locations to ship products to the customer’s home or a more convenient store location.

I believe that all retailers will need to assess their current capabilities. The mobile experience in the store is essential, both to interact with customers on a deeper level and to empower in-store associates with real-time contextual information. This requires enabling Wi-Fi and expanding bandwidth to accommodate new digital experiences.

Analytics, of course, is critical to understanding customers, in-store and out. Retailers will need accurate information at all stages of the shopping journey. That includes accurate data on inventory and customer browsing habits; there is no faster way to disappoint a customer than not having the item he or she expects, or to make the customer wait.

But retailers will also need to be sensitive to how much information customers are willing to share. There’s a fine line between an appropriate “opt-in” incentive and one that is perceived to be intrusive. If retailers get it right, customers will see the clear benefits and value in sharing their data.

As Cisco’s retail paper stressed, technology has accelerated changes in customer behavior, and traditional assumptions around age demographics are outmoded. Gen Y can enjoy the store experience, for example, while older customers may be highly connected and mobile. Retailers will need flexible, future-proof infrastructures that enable them to respond to ever-shifting customer demands.

I see the winners in retail succeeding on three key fronts:

  • They will provide breakout innovations that set market expectations for new kinds of customer interactions, new ways of sorting and tracking products, and new ways of fulfilling customer needs. These will be highly relevant and situationally aware; that is, aligned with customers’ current contexts.
  • They will have flexible systems and architectures in place to support these new kinds of interactions, and adapt to changes in customer behavior.
  • And they will ensure a consistent, seamless experience, whether the customer is engaging via email, call center, online, a mobile device, or with an in-store customer associate.

In the end, winning retailers will shift their focus from short-term profits to a customer-centric strategy. After all, the more relevant, streamlined, and seamless the customer experience, the more likely it is that those customers will return — again and again.

Future of IT Podcast: The Last Checkout Line- How the Internet of Everything Can Transform the Retail Experience from Cisco Business Insights

 

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Observations from Mobile World Congress 2015

I have just returned from a very interesting and jammed-packed week at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. A record 93,000 plus people are estimated to have attended this year’s premier technology festival. Much has changed in the industry over the last year since I reported my observations of MWC 2014. However, what is most remarkable is how the boundaries of mobility continue to expand and morph – everything now seems to be mobile? As such, the show offers a fascinating glimpse into the future of technology and the major social and business shifts that we can expect in the next few years.

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The following are my personal observations and extrapolations from the show Read More »

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IoT in Action Webcast: Opportunities and Momentum in Manufacturing

blogThe widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, connecting sensors, equipment, machines and assembly lines to the network is driving a manufacturing industry transformation. In fact, nearly 30 percent of all manufacturing-related firms are in some stage of piloting, implementing, or expanding IoT deployments. By 2017, an expected 80 percent will have implemented an IoT solution.

Many manufacturers are in the process of figuring out how to deploy a Connected Factory, or perhaps pilot a smaller scale wireless network pilot project in their manufacturing facility. In fact, ARC analyst Greg Gorbach who covers ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ recently wrote a blog, ‘Let’s just try it’, focusing on a panel presentation that I was part of at their recent conference. This blog focuses on the Stanley Black and Decker success story at their Reynosa factory in Mexico and how a ‘let’s just try it’ approach yielded these results: “OEE increased 24%, defects decreased 16%, labor utilization is up from 80 to 92%, and line throughput is up 10%.  In addition they now have empowered employees, improved labor ergonomics, reduced labor training, and better visibility for line supervisors.”

If you are in the midst of this decision process on ‘where to start’, I’d like to encourage you to access our webcast on demand titled “IoT: Oppportunities and Momentum in Manufacturing”, A part of the IoT in Action series, this webcast covers key learnings from industry thought leaders from Forrester Research, AeroScout Industrial, and Cisco. These experts, Michelle Pelino from Forrester, Priya Vijayakumar from AeroScout and Chet Namboodri from Cisco discuss what it takes to make the transition to IoT and how companies are reaping the benefits of efficiency, cost savings, better data analysis, and faster time to market. Check out this webcast and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

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