I recently saw a blog post from my colleague on how video technologies like Cisco Remote Expert are completely revolutionizing the way we do things; for example, applying for your wedding license via video.
It was his blog that made me think about my own upcoming nuptials and the role that video collaboration played in my wedding planning. And while I didn’t apply for my marriage license via telepresence, I did however do something pretty cool that I wanted to share.
I don’t personally consider myself a bridezilla, no comment on what my bridesmaids and husband-to-be would say, but I did find myself in a tizzy regarding my wedding dress. Like any bride, I wanted the support of my closest family and girlfriends when I went dress shopping. However, I was on the hunt for a dress during a trip to my home state of Louisiana and my sister, who’s my best friend and maid-of-honor, was in Virginia.
She’s my older sister, so I’ve been asking for her opinion since I was a kid. When it came to my dress shopping, I was upset at the thought of not getting to share that moment with her. I had to think outside of the box to make sure she was there for the experience — and boy did I ever.
It’s happened to you many times – you’re in a store desperately trying to find a clerk to give you more information about a product you intend to purchase. But no such luck. Cisco is changing that with its Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail.
A recent article recapping a keynote at last week’s Enterprise Connect with Cisco’s Robert Lloyd, highlighted how Cisco wants to make the customer experience not only easier, but more enjoyable. What’s the overarching goal? Making sure the customer has a highly-personalized experience and is equipped with information to make their final purchase decision.
Once retailers get that prospect into a store they can’t afford to risk losing sales from customers left unsatisfied with the service they receive. Cisco’s Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail enables retailers to provide customers with consistent, fulfilling and positive shopping experiences. Using real-time, life-like video from screens positioned throughout stores, experts, can connect via video to share documents, videos, websites and any other content helpful to customers. This access to experts can reassure them about quality, functionality and how it might fit individual customer needs.
Here at Cisco, we believe that Smart Solutions are game changers: a way to start new conversations with your customers and expand your sales. Now is the time to make sure you understand the Smart Solutions conversation so we can build new business opportunities together.
What is a Smart Solution?
The Smart Solutions concept is designedwith two goals in mind: first, how do Cisco and our partners make it easier for our customers to achieve their business objectives by leveraging the full breadth of the Cisco portfolio? Second, how will we scale these solutions, especially through a Partner Led approach, where sales and full life cycle support is provided exclusively through partners?
The simple answer is that a Cisco Smart Solution integrates, pre-tests, and validates Cisco products for how they work together. In some cases, these Smart Solutions include third party technology which is also tested as a part of the whole offer. The idea is to include intellectual assets such as design guides, implementation guides, andcustomer use cases that partners can use to build a practice and accelerate pilot to profit. Cisco includes a full suite of pre-sales tools such as sales enablement and demand generation programs. Soon we will offer customer intelligence, including market insights and information on buying behaviors to help partners prospect and qualify customers.
What does it mean for the partner community? Read More »
Government services and convenience are rarely seen within the same sentence; more often than not, the thought of making the trip down to city hall is a sure-fire way to increase one’s blood pressure. Cisco’s efforts around Smart+Connected Communities have continuously focused on identifying these types of pain points – advocating the need to design cities with technology at the core to improve delivery of new citizen services.
Citizen services in France
This month, efforts around the world in France, Spain, Germany, Canada and the United States have showcased the pivotal role of technology in the development of modern-day cities. More and more, the network has become an essential part of a city infrastructure – much like gas and water. When we’re able to implement a scalable intelligent network to create tangible service-delivery points for citizens, what we essentially create is an entirely new business model that promotes a shift in how public services are delivered.
The initiatives detailed throughout this post are not only exciting as an indicator of global acceptance from large communities around the world, but they also serve as a key initial step towards what we can provide with a full suite of transformational services. Through utilizing key technologies that bring access closer to the community, Cisco and its partners are transforming the means in which cities deliver government services.
Spot Mairie in Nice
Cisco is working together with the city and the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan Area to deploy the world’s first fully operational Cisco Remote Expert for Government Services (REGS) solution. Installed at the Nice Étoile shopping mall, a cabin has been fully equipped with a Cisco TelePresence system and collaboration tools to bring government services closer to communities.
Named the ‘Spot Mairie’, this deployment provides real-time access to key services such as certification requests, voter registration, requests for public services and a host of other offerings during regular business hours. Once inside the cabin, citizens interact face-to-face with a remote agent over video and are sent necessary forms remotely via a printer. A mailbox and document scanner is also provided for easy access. Spot Mairie aims to change how citizens perceive the delivery of public services and falls right in line with an agreement signed between the Nice Metropolitan Area and Cisco France for digital development efforts within the area.
Casa Del Mig, Barcelona
Traveling a little farther south, Barcelona City Hall and Cisco recently announced Spain’s first remote expert for government services deployment. As we’ve seen with Nice, Cisco TelePresence technology and collaboration tools have been installed in a booth at the Casa del Mig area of the city, providing citizens with remote access to a variety of government services (customized for that specific region).
This pilot program is a first for Spain and furthers Cisco’s collaboration agreement with the Barcelona City Hall to transform Barcelona into a global reference model for urban innovation.
Addressing the ‘blank spots’ in Germany
At the February meeting of the largest association of German telecommunications operators (BREKO), the Cisco Industry Solutions Group presented a live demo of the remote expert for government services solution to an audience of city and regional carriers – as well as municipal utilities. For a bit of background, the 140 members of BREKO help provide high quality optical fiber access to urban, as well as rural areas – covering the “blank spots.” As a result of the demonstration, we are working now to include the feedback from the association with ideas for improvement and more use cases. At the same time, a collaboration was announced between Cisco and ODR Technologie Services GmBH to help bring this solution to market; making them the first partner in Germany to do so. ODR TSG is developing an initial pilot in the county of Aalen. Stay tuned for more updates on how the solution could be rolled out in the German market.
Municipalities in Ontario, Canada
In Canada, the City of Stratford has been making major strides towards becoming a leader in digital media and infrastructure and was short-listed as one of the top intelligent cities by the ICF. Partnering with Cisco to help deliver the proper networking infrastructure, Stratford is focused on driving investment and innovation to transform the city’s future. Cisco has begun working with several progressive municipalities in Ontario to deploy REGS solution pilots. Forward-thinking municipalities – including Stratford – will trial remote expert for government services kiosks to deliver access to municipal government services/information and help further drive Smart+Connected Communities initiatives in the area. By utilizing technology to improve citizen services and provide greater ease of access, these pilots are another glimpse into what the future holds for a Smart+Connected Canada.
Remote Expert 1.8 Introduced
Building on the momentum we’ve seen globally with Cisco’s overall remote expert solutions across several vertical industries, we’re also excited to announce a solution update with Remote Expert 1.8. New capabilities continue our efforts around enabling partners to better connect customers with subject matter experts via immersive, virtual environments. These new features include scalable support, video in queue functionality for TelePresence and the integration of Cisco MediaSense to deliver audio recording, in addition to others. Furthermore, a newly enhanced Remote Expert Services Portfolio includes planning, building and management services to support a secure solution that effectively integrates with customers’ existing process and infrastructures – and to deliver the highest quality experience.
Connected Justice in Texas
Interactive Touch Pad. Photo: BILLY CALZADA, San Antonio Express-News
In other areas around the world, we’ve also seen how other Cisco technologies have been used to address the pressing challenge of delivering new citizen services. We turn now to the great state of Texas, where the Cisco Connected Justice solution is transforming the administration of routine court tasks and allowing city officials to improve court processes.
Connected Justice Kiosk. Photo: BILLY CALZADA, San Antonio Express-News
Last year, the city of San Antonio, Texas announced the deployment of interactive video kiosks for citizens to resolve Municipal Court offenses from right in their own neighborhood. Devised by Municipal Court Presiding Judge John Bull, court manager Jason Tabor and Cisco, these remote expert kiosks enable a live, interactive video feed where residents can speak with Judge Alfredo Tavera about their cases and the options available to them. The service allows up to 20 people to be linked via Cisco TelePresence to the court at one time and a touch screen with interactive pad is provided for ease of use.
This month, residents in San Antonio will find an up-and-running kiosk right in their own neighborhood grocery store. Resolving a traffic ticket won’t ever be pleasant, but at least it’ll be more convenient now. Additional kiosks are already available within a local community center outside of downtown. Collin County, TX has also explored the use of kiosks in their court system and is in the midst of deployment. All in all, these services are helping transform the means in which we deal with every day circumstances like traffic violations.
Delivering citizen services remotely in Barcelona
The Bigger Picture
The developments in these global regions provide a crucial step in the broader effort to transform cities around the world. Having the ability to access government services from somewhere as casual and accessible as a shopping mall is an important indicator of what’s possible. In Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities vision, the Internet can be the key platform in city planning and development efforts. As we see it, the Internet of Everything has a pivotal role in powering an amazing future – one in which the intelligent connection of people, process, data and things on the network will transform our cities and the way in which we conduct our day-to-day lives.
In my previous blog, I walked you through the Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail demo that I presented at NRF. This solution helps retailers catch, keep, and entice customers to buy and buy more.
This solution was explored in greater depth at NRF during our Big Ideas Session: Deliver Compelling Shopping and GREAT Customer Service with Interactive Technologies. This session focused on how delivering a compelling shopping experience and exceptional customer service with interactive technologies can help drive sales. Attendees heard how interactive touch screens, digital signage, and video collaboration can help retailers delight and engage consumers, cost-effectively address shopper questions by using local and remote experts, and quickly convert in-store browsers into buyers.
Watch the video below to hear our session speakers provide a summary of this compelling Cisco Big Ideas Session: