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Indoor WiFi Location and Beacons: Better Together

wifibeaconIn just two years, indoor location technology has taken off and attracted a lot of buzz across industries, from retailers to healthcare. But it’s no longer a conversation about just Wi-Fi – the introduction of beacon devices, including iBeacon, has added a new dimension to location technology for IT and their line of business counterparts to grapple with on how to leverage it to better reach their customer base.

Some customers have been asking about beacon technology and how it fits in with Wi-Fi, so let’s start from the beginning:

How do beacons work?

Beacons are sensors that send out Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tracking tags.  These sensors can be placed around a venue, such as a store, and a mobile device can pick up the BLE signal and determine that it is in close proximity. When a mobile app is built off of this technology, it can be used in interesting ways to interact with the end user, such as notifying a customer of a promotion for an item they are close to.

I’m having trouble differentiating Wi-Fi and beacons. What do I need to know? Read More »

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A Major IT Shift – Delivering Business Outcomes

During geek-fests like CiscoLive, it’s easy to become hypnotized by all the amazing technology. So many smart people are innovating in so many amazing ways. When the party’s over, though, we all need to get back to business. Not just CIO’s and CTO’s -- everyone in IT needs to focus on business outcomes -- now more than ever. Here’s why.

IT is under increasing pressure to innovate and help deliver business results, as evidenced by several new data points in our industry. Understanding these trends and next steps can help IT, business, and operations teams all work better together to deliver more value from technology.

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The Nexus of the Internet of Everything? It’s in the Palm of Your Hand.

On a typical day, we hold in our hands a portal to our civilization’s entire trove of information and entertainment — and a window into our finances, our health, and the lives of our friends. Not to mention, the ability to make a purchase anywhere and anytime the whim strikes us.

To say that our personal devices have become an integral part of our lives is a vast understatement. But get ready for an even bigger wave of change. Mobile is poised to become ever more ubiquitous. But the focus will be less on the device itself, and more on its role as a critical enabler in the connected world of the Internet of Everything (IoE).

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Retail Analytics for an Omnichannel World

Hello, there! My name is Kathryn Howe, and I’m a senior advisor in Cisco’s Retail Industry Practice. I am joining this blog to write regularly on my favorite topic and one of today’s hottest retail trends: Shopper behavior analytics and how they can support omnichannel selling.

Your store is probably among those that are collecting and analyzing masses of data about customers, products, and store operations to earn additional revenue and savings. The challenge of this big data, of course, is that metrics don’t mean much unless the store has access to the right data to meet your specific business needs. But when you do, such metrics become a powerful tool to create efficiencies and support your omnichannel strategies.

Most of the retailers I meet are extremely enthusiastic about the idea of utilizing shopper analytics technologies to generate deeper insights they can use to better manage their businesses -- but aren’t too sure of how to do it. However, the truth is that the use cases for analytics in the store are almost infinite. As just a few examples, you can:

Predict resource requirements

Retailers can use analytics tools to measure traffic, wait times, and queue lengths, proactively anticipating resource demands across the store. For example, front-end staffing demand in grocery can be anticipated using a combination of real-time traffic counting, trip time data, and data on staff on hand. Resources are thus dynamically allocated based on real-time information, improving productivity of labor hours and improving customer satisfaction.

Drive traffic to the store

Through presence and location-based mobility analytics, retailers pinpoint the location of opt-in shoppers when they are close to a store location. With personalized reminders or discount offers sent directly to their smartphones, consumers are more motivated to visit the store if they are nearby.

Counteract showrooming

Retailers can leverage customer showrooming by providing real-time discounts and price matching on the shopper’s mobile device based on their location in the store. For example, analytics from mobile or video may detect high wait times in a department or category. In response, the store can alert staff to offer immediate assistance, or send a personalized offer to the shopper’s mobile device. This turns showrooming from a threat into a promotional opportunity, improves the shopper’s opinion of the store, and builds a strong long-term relationship.

I recently authored a white paper that addresses these and many other use cases, which you can find here. For a dynamic conversation on these and other analytics topics, please join us on June 25 for a free hour-long webcast on real-world analytics. It’s being hosted by Cisco and a group of our partners to discuss how to optimize operations and workforce efficiency, increase marketing effectiveness, and strategize for Analytics 3.0. See you there!

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The Digital Renaissance Is Here. Is Your Company’s Culture Ready?

Sooner or later we all feel like throwing up our hands and cursing the complexity of modern life. But while technology may seem the chief culprit in making things unmanageable, it is also the ultimate solution to complexity.

In the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, it is particularly important for business leaders to understand the power of technology to simplify our lives and support JBradleySAPinformed decision making. And this was a core theme at Sapphire Now 2014, an event in Orlando, Fla., that I was privileged to attend last week.

By using network technology to integrate people, process, data, and things, IoE counters complexity in unprecedented ways. In a city, this can involve something as simple as cutting the time it takes to find a (connected) parking space. Or IoE technologies can scale up to reroute traffic lights; for example, to head-off highway backups before, during, and after a large event.

In a brick-and-mortar retail setting (a key area of discussion at Sapphire Now), IoE can alleviate the complexity of managing customers, staffing, and products. With data from multiple sources comes heightened, real-time awareness, empowering managers to react faster than ever. For example, they can then stock shelves and reorganize staff in response to constantly changing levels of demand. With predictive analytics they can even respond before a customer rush begins.

The idea of hyper-aware, real-time decision-making resonated during a Sapphire Now panel discussion titled Thrive in the Digital Networks of the New Economy. I was honored to share the panel with such luminaries as Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT; Michael Chui of McKinsey Global Institute; and Jai Shekhawat, Deepak Krishnamurthy, and Vivek Bapat of SAP. And there was much discussion on the impact of bad decisions on failed organizations. Which is why we all take such an interest in technology that enables good ones.

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