Here at Cisco we are busy getting ready to go to NRF next week, which is being held in New York on Jan. 12-15. Cisco is at the show expo on Jan. 13-14, and will be featuring four company thought leaders in the annual Big Idea sessions. I asked Lisa Fretwell, customer solution director at Cisco, to tell us more about her topic and the buzzphrase that’s beginning to penetrate the industry: The Internet of Everything.
Q: Lisa, what is the Internet of Everything?
The Internet of Everything, or IOE, is the next step change in customer experience store efficiency and effectiveness, a way of thinking about stores and store technologies to derive the greatest possible benefit from every data point. In the future there will a significant increase in the numbers of “things” connected to the Internet. Those new connections will create a huge amount of useful data that we can use to transform our processes and radically change the way that stores engage with customers. This next generation combines data, processes, people, and things to create significant new and additional value for the businesses.
Q: Why is IOE so important for retailers?
A: Remember years ago when the Internet came along and retailers said, “It will never take off”? Today’s transition to the Internet of Everything will be even larger and faster than the move to eCommerce or mCommerce, as it is enables rich customer experiences and a new era of operational productivity. IOE helps to optimize low margins and drive profitability by keeping stores ahead of high customer expectations. It accomplishes this by improving productivity through automated operations based on new data sources and sensors combined with smart analytics.
Q: What do you think are the most important topics you’ll discuss at NRF?
A: My goal is to help retailers start to understand the critical opportunity offered by IOE. I think it’s important for retailers to understand these new concepts and see what their competitors are doing. We’ll discuss what they need to do to get their business ready for IOE and how to get started – not just architectures, and connectivity, but how IT needs to rethink data and analytics platforms and how retail businesses can adapt to make the most of the brave new IOE world. To understand the economics of this, check out the white paper Embracing the Internet of Everything.
Time and Place:
“The Internet of Everything: What’s the Art of the Possible in Retail?” with Lisa Fretwell takes place on Monday, Jan. 13, at 2:00-3:00 pm, in Room 4 on Level 3 of the Expo Hall. For those who can’t be there, a recording of the session will be available after the show. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more, and do take the time to stop by Cisco booth #1954.
This is the final installment of a series on how retailers can address the challenges of becoming an omnichannel business. I’d like to wrap up by talking about a deceptively simple stumbling block – accepting that being an omnichannel seller changes how people work. I spend much of my time talking to retailers, and this really is a big issue.
For example, I have seen stores install – and then turn off – Wi-Fi deployments because they worry that associates will waste time surfing the web. And, yes, some might. But consider the cost compared to customers knowing more than your salesforce because they’ve been doing online research. It makes your team look uninformed, lowers the quality of service, and impacts sales. Obviously, you don’t want workers to play games all day. Instead, train them to find and use online product information, social media, and reviews that will help improve response to customers – and deal appropriately with the exceptions.
Related to this are issues around Wi-Fi access for customers. If you provide it for employees, please just go ahead and extend this to shoppers. Universal store access allows you to optimize your brand with both employees and customers (and enables far more effective analytics). I guarantee that you will lose relevance over time as consumers learn your store is one of the few without mobile service.
As well, I’ve met retailers who won’t add Wi-Fi because they are convinced that the only outcome will be showrooming and ultimate desertion. It’s time to shed the fear of this increasingly common customer practice. Instead, leverage it as a new marketing tool. You can drive sales by being part of the customer’s social media experience, delivering your own identity, branding, and incentives. A recent Accenture study shows that younger consumers still want the in-store experience, but they also expect retailers to integrate personalized shopping across all channels.
Let’s talk more about this at the NRF Big Idea Sessions in New York, where I and Jon Stine, Lisa Fretwell, and Kathryn Howe will be speaking on Jan. 13 and 14. Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more about these popular seminars, and stop by Cisco Booth #1954 to say hello.
The idea of omnichannel selling can be daunting, and getting the benefit may entail learning to manage a certain amount of risk. But you know – it’s just retail. The environment is becoming more device-driven and the way stores look is changing. But giving consumers what they want; interacting with, understanding, and nurturing them: It’s still the business of retail. And you know how to do that.
For NRF 2013 and we conducted surveys in multiple countries for our next release of consumer research.
Jon Stine, director of Cisco IBSG and Lisa Fretwell, senior director of Cisco IBSG will be presenting the results at NRF Big Idea session on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 9:15 – 10:00 a.m at Room 3D04, EXPO Hall, Level 3
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