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Show Me the Retail Data

retailSuccess in retail often comes down to a counting game.  How many people pass by your store?  How many come inside?   How long do they stay?  And most importantly how many ultimately buy?

Today, the retail counting game has gotten a lot easier because we can now count devices as proxies for people, since many potential customers today, myself included, won’t leave home without their smartphone.  As soon as they enter a store, the beacon on their cell phone effectively announces its arrival to the Wi-Fi network and voilà, we have a count.

With the help of CMX Presence Analytics, these smart devices can help answer many key retailing questions with a single access point.

  • Who?
    Who is passing by the store versus coming in?  Presence Analytics uses both the cell phone’s signal strength as well as the time spent in the area to determine the number of people walking by versus in-store visitors.  Presence Analytics provides simple, quick reports on retail conversion metrics.   You can also track how often visitors return to a store in a given time period can be tracked, which can be key for customer loyalty programs.

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Five Reasons to Upgrade Cisco’s CMX to MSE 8.0 Today

The highly anticipated Wireless Release 8.0 came out last week, and among the feature updates is a key set of enhancements and new modules for Cisco’s CMX solution that come with MSE 8.0.  These updates were designed to build out the breadth of location services available to organizations, as well as improve the user experience for customers working with the CMX solution. These enhancements make five great reasons to upgrade to 8.0 today and test out these new tools and features in your Wi-Fi location deployment:

1. Presence Analytics

This new feature enables the use of a single access point (AP) to determine device presence and dwell time. It provides a simplified way to leverage Wi-Fi technology to Detect, Connect, and Engage your customers. Retail stores, hotels, conference facilities, shopping malls, schools, and even city centers can greatly benefit from Presence Analytics. Unleashing this tool can help customers understand the basic, yet powerful, knowledge of the number of visitors to their space, time spent by the visitors, and frequency of visits. It can even provide a more in-depth look into the movement patterns of their visitors, while within their space, giving an understanding of which areas are most attractive to their client base.

Presence Analytics is very simple to configure by naming the entry, selecting the access point, and setting threshold values. Best of all, the majority of CMX Analytics reports are available automatically. All this allows customers to start using CMX Analytics without having to make any changes to their existing network and get immediate value from it.

mse8_1

2. Enhancements to Guest Access
Those familiar with CMX Connect will know that there are two guest access solutions available to customers with Cisco CMX. The first, CMX Connect, provides organizations with a simple, secure way to provide guest Wi-Fi access. CMX Connect offers the option of custom splash pages using a zone-based captive portal.

In MSE 8.0, we have dramatically simplified how CMX Connect is configured. The administrator only needs to indicate information they’d like collected (such as, name and email), and the zones in which the template will be used. Read More »

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Top Coders Win Cisco CMX Mobility Challenge

Over 30 registrants competed in an online global Cisco developer challenge to use the CMX Mobility Services API and CMX in a new app using a simulated environment for a meeting host to automatically launch a WebEx conference, based on the location of the conference room where the meeting is scheduled.  Guidance was provided in a previous blog post, which you too can use to develop innovative applications to create your own Connected Mobile Experience.

topcoder

Numerous impressive submissions demonstrated how straightforward it was to create a new mobile application using the CMX APIs and SDK.  The winning entries submitted code, a video demo, and a read me file, which together conveyed their work using real-time location updates to trigger a context-aware push notification.

First place entry from a brand new TopCoder member “gitsIndonesia” received a check for $1500. It included very clean Android Java code which was well-designed and easy to follow, while applying object-oriented practices. It provided a great example of how to build a new location app from the ground up using the CMX APIs with no changes required for the server simulator since the client (the app) was used for location polling. Read More »

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Indoor Wi-Fi Location and Beacons: Better Together Part 2

wifibeaconLocation-based services have been getting a lot of attention lately and people are increasingly curious about how Wi-Fi and beacons play together in the hot space that is indoor location technology. In my last blog I reviewed how beacons work and how to differentiate when to use Wi-Fi and beacons. There’ve been some great questions about beacon technology and how it complements Cisco’s location-based Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution, so I want to follow up on these topics with everyone.

What types of beacons are there?

Generally, there are two different classes of beacons: transmit only and backhaul enabled.

Transmit only beacons are exactly as they sound – they simply transmit information to anyone that is capable of hearing (bluetooth enabled smartphones). They do not receive or pass any data or information upstream.

Apple’s iBeacon is the best example of this type of BLE beacon. You can think of them like the navigational beacons used by airplanes when on approach to major airports. The beacon doesn’t even know the plane is there, but the plane is aware of the beacon and knows where the beacon is allowing it to take the correct action. Same is true for smartphones and transmit only beacons like iBeacon – the intelligence is located in the mobile application which must recognize the beacon and take appropriate action.

Backhaul enabled beacons generally include a Wi-Fi chipset for either management or data capabilities. Some backhaul enabled beacons are USB enabled and take advantage of whatever connectivity exists within the PC they are connected. Read More »

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The Key to Success in Tracking Mobile Devices: Symbiosis, Not Espionage

As a shopper enters a store, the retailer uses Wi-Fi to track her movements, interests, and shopping habits, providing a treasure trove of insight valuable to merchandising and product development alike.

And as advances in Wi-Fi promise increasing location precision and beacons promise pinpoint location based services, the future appears to be smooth sailing, right?

Well, not exactly.

Tracking the position of mobile devices accurately and correlating to personal data has been one of the most sought after Big Data objectives. And not just for retailers — the potential wealth of business value from data has drawn piqued interest across nearly all industries.

Yet in the real world, issues arise from both technology challenges and privacy concerns alike.

Technology challenges include:

  • Typical Wi-Fi accuracies in the 7-to-10 meter range (though Angle of Arrival and improved location analytics promise dramatic improvements)
  • Infrequent mobile device probing to conserve battery power
  • Interference from metal shelves & fixtures, water in products (and people!)

Privacy qualms speak to the heart of transformation in the Internet of Everything (IoE) age. IoE, after all, is the explosion of network connections among people, process, data, and things — and promises to be one of the most impactful periods of change in our history. And the people element is in some ways the whole point — to make our lives better, healthier, more efficient, and so forth. But the people issues will be just as challenging as those that arise around technology. Read More »

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