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It’s Time for Dinner: Improving the Quality of Our Food with the Internet of Everything

It’s almost the holiday season and it’s time for your customers to host that special dinner party, where they can make memories and share stories with loved ones. What if they could also share the story of where that holiday meal came from?

This is now possible using the power of the Internet of Everything (IoE). The ability to monitor and assure food quality, safety, and provenance is probably one of the fastest-emerging applications of IoE – and the fastest-growing differentiator for grocers. With IoE, even the minute details of products can be tracked from source to shelf.  Providing access to data across the entire agricultural food chain is sometimes now referred to as the “Internet of Food.”

Your party host can share with guests where the wheat was raised to produce the pasta, describe exactly where and how the olive oil was pressed, serve a salad that was bought at guaranteed optimal ripeness, and enjoy a glass of wine from the region of France visited by the host on his last trip to Europe.

Today, your customers are closer than ever to getting this extreme level of detail:

The pasta brand Barilla is already making this a reality. They have placed QR codes on select boxes of pasta and sauces. This code connects customers to a website that tells the story of the farms where the wheat was grown, the co-ops and factories where it was processed, and how much water and carbon dioxide were involved in production. To learn more about how Barilla did it, please read the press release.

Sensors also give retailers the ability to identify and monitor the freshest, healthiest produce. This is done using sensors that monitor the temperature and humidity of your products. You can measure concentrations of gases and even use a pocket-sized spectrum analyzer like the SCiO to determine chemical composition. Based on levels of ripeness, retailers can even develop dynamic pricing and promotional campaigns to react to changes in demand or ripening speed.

Through the Internet of Everything (IoE), retailers can break through information silos across supply chains and give customers transparency into the journey of their food, from field to fork. To see how other retailers are embracing digital transformation, see our customer stories.

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The Next Step in Your Store Analytics Strategy: Sensor Fusion

Retail has entered an era of unprecedented competition and accelerated evolution worldwide. Retailers in every category, both brick-and-mortar and online, face larger and more unpredictable threats than ever before, from digitization of goods and distributed manufacturing to autonomous, near-instant delivery, service robots, and online experiences with unprecedented realism, as disruptors such as virtual reality, 3D printing, drones and wearables take root.

While e-commerce growth is outstripping physical store expansion, the in-store experience is still a powerful part of the shopping experience. The Internet of Everything (IoE) offers new opportunities to make physical store shopping a better experience for the consumer and more lucrative for the retailer. By lighting up “dark assets,” retailers gains unprecedented insights into shopper behavior and operations, and can impact every piece of the value chain from merchandising and sales to workforce optimization, shopper experience and service.

Retailers light up dark assets by instrumenting physical stores with sensors and actuators such as Wi-Fi access points and shopping cart tags, beacons, video cameras, and even mechanical devices such as weight sensing shelves or humidity sensors. While these sensors themselves provide valuable new insights, often the greatest advantages are derived from combining multiple types of sensors and data through “sensor fusion.”

As just one example, pairing Wi-Fi location data showing a shopping path with point-of-sale data can highlight opportunities to improve conversion, where shoppers linger but don’t purchase. Likewise, combining video analytics of traffic entering the store with shelf sensing of the rate at which refrigerated goods are being picked up provides a more accurate forecast of staffing needs.

The business value of sensor fusion can be staggering – our studies show that a 1,500 store big box chain could save up to $100 million per year in cashier cost, at the same time as reducing checkout wait times by up to half – in fact, we predict that IoE could ultimately end up eliminating the checkout line. IoE also helps with the stubborn problem of on-shelf availability, where the largest retailers can lose more than $1 billion annually.

But that’s not all – sensor fusion is already being used to evaluate campaign effectiveness, optimize merchandising, and help suppliers and partners become the captains in their categories, as well as to reduce shrink and improve shopper and employee safety.

Please join us to learn more on Sept. 25 during my 45-minute webcast being held at 12:00 noon ET/9:00 am PT. It’s called “Why You Need Sensor Fusion in Your 2016 Retail Analytics Strategy,” and it’s jointly sponsored by Cisco and our partner RetailPoint, which offers POS solutions. I’ll speak for just half an hour about IoE in action in retail and the technologies enabling it, from video (the “supersensor”) to wearables to precision location and the single pane of glass for retail – the ultimate view of your business. Then we’ll spend 15-20 minutes in open discussion on how sensor fusion can help your store take the next step. Please register today!

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Gone Fishin’! Both our family, and the Cisco UC Solution family.

Labor Day has been and gone. Apparently no one can wear white now and the fish have stopped biting. Well, the first bit might be true (not sure why) but don’t tell my son Adam about the second – he’s got the fishing bug! He got it from his mum, not from me. My wife Julie enjoyed fishing with her dad when she was younger, and is converting the rest of us. Not sure I’ll ever be a true aficionado myself, but it looks like our kids will.

Anyway, the video shows Adam’s excitement at being only one of two folks to catch fish that Labor Day weekend on Mickie’s Big Mack  (that’s the name of Mickey’s boat!).  The boat was full of fishermen and fisherwomen and fisherstories. I don’t know much about fishing, but when it came to my turn to tell a yarn folks were surprised that I knew about “superchill” (we had been discussing the Lake Tahoe water temperature earlier, before sun-up). What is it? well…   Read More »

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