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Data Analytics: Transforming Journeys

It’s dawn and I’m catching the fast train from Amsterdam to Paris. Three days of meetings and a view of one of the most fantastic cities in the world. While stepping onto the train, I had a déjà vu moment that took me back to being a student when I traveled around Europe with a train ticket in my back pocket.

nic villa blogTrains have not changed much. Same rails, similar seats, just a different color fabric. Even the people are the same—as diverse as always, each with a slightly different reason for stepping onto the train. What has changed is the whole experience around the journey. Waking up in the morning, I consulted my smartphone for the weather forecast in Paris, which by the way, the alarm function also woke me from a deep sleep. Using an app I chose a taxi by the number of people who “liked” that particular driver with the Eastern European look. Then my phone paid the taxi fare and alerted me that the train was going to depart within five minutes, well before the announcer at the station did. Just enough time for a good coffee. I plan to get the same taxi service in Paris – just Michelle instead of Piotr.

Connectivity has become part of our everyday life. A life in which information follows – and sometimes proceeds us. Our smart devices proactively give useful information; in my case, the cheapest and quickest way to get to the office as well as a mechanism to build a personal connection with my taxi driver; all before stepping into the vehicle. Read More »

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Real-Time Analytics Can Make the “Last Checkout Line” a Reality—and Drive Bottom-Line Gains for Retailers

As retailers compete for consumers’ attention—and purchases—they are always looking for ways to deliver a better shopping experience that will make customers want to come back to the store, again and again. A good starting point is to eliminate some of the common frustrations of the shopping experience, such as long checkout lines.

Cisco’s new campaign on the “Museum of Lasts” shows how the Internet of Everything (IoE) will bring about the “last checkout line.” But that’s just the beginning. When retailers apply real-time analytics to the networked connection of people, process, data, and things, they not only improve store operations and customer service, but also provide the “hyper-relevant” experiences customers crave. Read More »

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Digital Disruptors and the Future of Consulting

In my role as leader of the Analytics Practice for Cisco® Consulting Services, I often meet with clients who remind me of how the nature of consulting is changing. Traditionally, a consultant’s value and relevance to the customer has been derived from his or her business background and knowledge of specific industries or areas of expertise. The consultant comes in and takes a look at the client’s critical business issues, then makes top-down recommendations based on his or her specialized business experience.

This traditional model is being challenged by what I call “digital disruptors”—consultants whose credibility comes not just from their past experience, but from their ability to extract value and insight based on data that is gathered at the operational base of the organization: the network. This bottom-up approach is turning the consulting industry on its head—driven by data gathered on the network and turned into business insights by analytics.

Consider, for example, a major enterprise that has made a large investment in infrastructure for video collaboration. The company’s leaders want to see what kind of value they are getting back from their investment in order to evaluate further investment in collaboration. Cisco Consulting can help this customer not only because of our industry expertise, or even because of our knowledge of video collaboration technology—but because we can take an analytics-based, digital-disruption approach to the customer’s challenges. The key is our ability to tap into the video infrastructure itself, combine network and other types of data, and give the client a view of how the infrastructure is being utilized.

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