Choosing a career in technology turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. At one time, however, it seemed counterintuitive to enter such a male-dominated industry. I’m not an engineer. I don’t have a degree in computer science. The only traditional tech skill I possessed was a small knowledge of HTML programming language, which I at one time used to put up static web pages. Today, that skill is useful only for editing blog posts.
What I was trained for was design. I moved into technology because it offered me a fresh way to leverage those talents while having a bigger impact. As a designer, I was taught to understand the context of a problem and to generate insights and creative solutions. I switched from a career in print design because technology was providing exciting new ways to reach people. I found it fascinating and wanted to be a part of it.
Apparently, I’m in the minority. A Forbes article cited research from Maria Klawe, a computer scientist and president of Harvey Mudd College, in listing some of the main reasons women don’t choose tech careers. Many believe that they won’t find a career in tech interesting, while others fear they won’t be good at it. A third concern is working in such a predominantly male bastion.
I have to say that my experience on all three counts has been just the opposite.
Retail success has always been about delivering on the “4 Rs”: getting the Right products to the Right place at the Right time and for the Right price. While that success formula remains valid, technology-enabled advancements promise to disrupt how — and how well — retailers will be able to deliver on each element.
“Omnichannel” is a theme that has dominated retailers’ mindshare the last several years as digital influence and mobile connectivity become bigger and bigger elements in the shopping journey. Now emerging are the Internet of Everything (IoE) and Big Data analytics. While pervasive IoE connectivity generates a deluge of data, new analytics tools are helping to turn this raw data into actionable insights. The mashup of omnichannel, Big Data, and IoE is positioned to drive new operational benchmarks through a focus on the retail industry’s new “4 Ps of Performance”: Precision, Personalization, Prediction, and Platforms.
In my role as Cisco’s Chief Futurist, I get many questions about what the future holds and how new technology and emerging solutions will change our lives. Given the positive feedback and the volume of questions being submitted from the community around the first series, I’ve decided to do another series to answer questions from the education and tech community around the Internet of Everything (IoE). Be sure to check out the previous Ask the #InternetOfEverything Futurist blogs and videos about the advances of battery technology and the future of smartphones.
As a kid, I was fascinated by the popular cartoon “The Jetsons.” Set in a futurist space community called Orbit City, the Jetson family had it all: a flying car, a household robot and a machine that helped members of the family get dressed.
Today, the technology the Jetsons used to live their life in the sky doesn’t seem too far-fetched. In fact, I’ve previously written about how close we are to seeing flying cars become a reality. We’ve also seen how the growth of the Internet of Everything (IoE) is connecting more and more people, data, things and processes – leading to a plethora of robots to clean your kitchen floors and an influx of connected things built to make our lives easier. A Cisco-powered infrastructure is what’s driving this the transition to an Internet of Everything world.
There is tremendous development in Jetsonian retail options. Online shopping via mobile devices, digital dressing room mirrors and a host of ready-to-wear connected devices (wearables) are changing how we shop and what we choose to buy. In one “Jetsons” episode, Jane and Judy Jetson use a “dress selector projection machine” to find an outfit to wear. Similar to what the creators of the Jetson’s predicted, we just beginning to see an iteration of this type of technology bring the runway to your dressing room or clothes closet. However, will this type of business model actually work?
In this Ask the #InternetOfEverything Futurist post, I’ll answer a question from Lauren Malhoit (@malhoit) a Cisco Champion, that points to this type of retail and fashion evolution. Lauren asks:
Question: “A recent Fast Company article mentions a retail business model where clothes are essentially delivered to you in the dressing room in your size. Do you think a model like this would work?”
To cross a busy intersection safely, it’s best to have all of your senses alert. That way, if you don’t happen to see that oncoming truck ignoring the “Walk” sign, you will probably still hear it. In the case of a heavy cement mixer, you may even feel the low rumble of its powerful engine first.
In the Internet of Everything (IoE), a similar principle applies. We call it “sensor fusion,” and it involves combining two or more sensors — often of different types — to monitor a specific environment and offer actionable insights more intelligently. These could be cameras and Wi-Fi tags or weight-sensing shelves and ultrasonic imaging, to name just two combinations. Moreover, the combined sensor data can itself be fused with other information streams — for example, those relating to weather, operations, news, or social media.
The result? Highly informed, real-time decision making and richer customer experiences.
Until recently, sensor fusion has been mostly exploited in specialized devices such as robots, but it is now driving a revolution in enterprise systems. This will bring new life to entire industries and completely transform stores, manufacturing floors, and transportation corridors. By greatly improving the accuracy of their measurements, organizations will be able to offer rich new experiences and gain substantial competitive advantage.
In a world of digital distractions and shrinking attention spans, brand loyalty and customer engagement often wind up “out of bounds.” But forward-thinking organizations — including the National Basketball Association (NBA) — are using technology to create some exciting new scoring opportunities.
One of the keys to establishing brand loyalty lies in enabling an experience that sparks an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. The NBA is a great example of an organization with an ardent fan base whose loyalty is based on an emotional bond. But to transform that passion into higher merchandise sales and social media buzz, the NBA has been adopting some unique concepts.
Some of this innovation will be on display at the NBA All-Star Jam Session, which will take place in New Orleans, February 13-16. There, the NBA is deploying Cisco’s Virtual Mirror done with partner C-InStore. The full-length mirror enables shoppers to see enhanced virtual images of themselves. And while Cisco’s Virtual Mirror might not make a customer look 7 feet tall (yet), it will render an image of him or her wearing the official All-Star jersey, shorts, and other licensed apparel. That digital snapshot can then be shared with friends and family, capitalizing on the excitement of being at the event. Those who engage with the mirror will also receive a 20-percent discount off event merchandise, redeemable through a coupon sent automatically to their phones.