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Turning the Retail Store into a High-Octane Digital Experience

Digital innovations have upended many assumptions about the art of buying and selling. But the brick-and-mortar retail store is far from extinct. And while digital technologies continue to disrupt traditional business models, they also present retailers with exciting opportunities to make their stores more immersive, interactive, and, well, digital.

Recently, I had the privilege of discussing the future of the retail store with Doug Stephens, one of the world’s foremost retail industry experts and author of the book, The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism. Listen to the full interview here.

As Doug describes it, “media is becoming the store and the store in essence is becoming media.” In short, he argues that the store itself has to embrace many of the capabilities and services that have made online retailers so successful, while retaining and enhancing some of the advantages of the physical retail experience. The store should become a “high-octane experience,” as Doug puts it.

Cisco_RetailStoreHighOctane_5.16.14

I wholeheartedly agree. In the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, an explosion of new connections is driving new sources of value. And the physical retail store can capture these new sources of value — just as their online counterparts have.

The key lies in blending the two experiences in a seamless manner.

As in-store consumers, we expect to interact with a product viscerally in a physical retail setting; online we enjoy access to rich product content. Combining the two will go far to engage and convert consumers while cementing brand loyalty.

Here are a few of the ways in which retailers are creating new digital in-store experiences:

  • Data analytics present a precise picture of an individual shopper, their online research and shopping history, and their real-time, in-store browsing, as tracked through their smart device and/or in-store video.
  • Wi-Fi and mobile technologies enable new connections during each step of the shopping journey, offering real-time prompts, expert advice, and incentives to “seal the deal.”
  • RFID tags and other sensors — combined with data analytics — provide precise tracking of products and inventory and enable such in-store experiences as “magic mirrors” and digital signage. These utilize detailed information on individual shopper behavior and buying history to transform the real-time experience.

Doug and I agree that, moving forward, it will be essential for retailers to gain the trust of consumers. If they are to be tracked in-store and engaged in real time, customers will need to feel confident that retailers are fully transparent throughout the shopping journey.

Surveys show that consumers have their doubts about sharing data. But when trust is established and clear benefits and value are established, they are willing to op-in. In effect, the nature of the exchange has to be clear, and education is crucial. Then, the full power of merging digital technology with the brick-and-mortar world will be evident.

The end result, I believe, is a win-win for retailers and customers alike.

But the key for retailers is to lead not follow. Waiting to see what other retailers are doing is not an option. Through data and analytics, they can get to know their customers better than ever. And by knowing their wants and desires, create a digital in-store experience that is more exciting than ever before.

For more on innovation in retailing check out our new BizWise video to learn how one mall owner has transformed relationships with shoppers using an omni-channel approach.

Future of Mobility Podcast Series: Turning the Retail Store into a High-Octane Digital Experience from Cisco Business Insights

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Video: the Super Sensor of the #InternetofEverything

A key advantage of the Internet of Everything (IoE) is the ability to “see” the world around us in unprecedented ways.

One way to do this is through the millions of cheap, tiny digital sensors generating data from shoes, tires, shopping carts, jet-engine parts, medical equipment, and just about anything else you can imagine.

But another type of sensor promises even deeper visibility and insight: video. Connected video — when deployed in the right situations and combined with other IoE components, such as analytics and mobility — can truly transform the ways in which we sense the world. And for organizations, video will provide rich, real-time insights that will drive hyper-aware decision-making and predictive strategies.

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At the Security Cross Roads of Health Care Reforms and IoE – 6 Health Care IT Transitions

April 27, 2014 at 8:28 pm PST

The saying ‘Tell me how you will measure me and I will tell you how I will behave’ could have been the perfect tag line for the US Health Care Reforms. When we look at how Health Care Information technology is getting used to enable reforms, we see that most of the technologies existed prior to the reforms, but there wasn’t a compelling reason to adopt it. Once the measurement criteria, the carrots and the sticks were defined, the behaviors changed, and to achieve the metrics, the technology adoption picked up. As an example, according to CDC’s report, the adoption of office based physicians with EHR systems has increased to 78.4% in 2013 from 17.3% in 2003.

EMR-Adoption

Percentage of office based physicians with EHR systems in US

Maybe a coincidence, but the Health Care reforms and Health Care Internet of Everything (IoE) are very much intertwined. The Health Care reforms focus on the ‘why’ and ‘what’ changes are needed to enable outcomes and define how performance is measured.  The Health Care Internet of Everything focuses on how technology can be leveraged to enable the goals of Health Care Reforms. By connecting the unconnected, IoE brings more information from multiple sources (things and people) to create an enhanced evidence based model to enable better outcomes.

From an IT perspective, Health Care Reforms requires breaking boundaries, opening up the access, enabling choices, improving data collection from multiple critical sources, and enabling information sharing. It is definitely a challenge to achieve these needs using the traditional approaches in Health Care.  Hence Health Care approaches have evolved to leverage Health care IT as a change agent, thereby resulting in many new Health Care IT transitions.

Let us explore six key Health Care IT transitions that have significant security implications.

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A Consumer View of Healthcare Reforms and IoE driven Healthcare IT Innovations

April 20, 2014 at 9:09 pm PST

In the past, they were called ‘Patients’, today their mindset and their behavior patterns have changed; they are called ‘Consumers’ of healthcare. They just don’t look at healthcare to consume the services when they are sick, but see it as a means to help them maintain their wellness and remain healthy. They want to be in the driver’s seat, and they want to be empowered and be part of the care decisions.

The Health Care Reforms and Health Care Internet of Everything (IoE) have accelerated the adoption of ‘consumer like’ behavior. From its focus on increased access to care and information, prevention and wellness, the meaningful use criteria calls for specific metrics such as the need for at least 5% of patients to send secure messages to providers. These have accelerated the use of patient portals and mobile apps and wellness devices. According to a report by Research and Markets, the mobile health market is expected to reach $26 billion in revenue by 2017.

Earlier this week, I was presenting at a security conference, the SecConX conference 2014 on the subject ‘At the Security Crossroads of Health Care Reforms and IoE enabled e-health’. I started off the presentation with a slide with three questions to gauge the audience’s adoption of consumer grade fitness devices, patient portal and mobile apps.

Guaging Consumer Adoption of Fitness devices, Patient portals and Mobile Apps

Gauging Consumer Adoption of Fitness devices, Patient portals and Mobile Apps

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A Symphony of Sensors Drives Value, Insight, and Opportunity

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.

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