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5 Retail Trends Driving Wi-Fi: Part 2

Earlier this week, we kicked off  special customer guest blog series with Andrew vonNagy, author of the blog Revolution Wi-Fi, and active on Twitter @revolutionwifi. Join us today as Andrew explores the next two major retail trends changing the Wi-Fi industry, and catch up with the first part if you missed it.

Trend 2: Empowering Sales Associates
Given the increasingly connected and smart shopper, consumers now have more product information than in-store sales associates in many cases. Yet sales staff are key to providing a great consumer experience in-store. Retailers need to empower sales associates with the depth of product information that consumers have, and to provide additional tools that facilitate existing and new services offered by the retailer.

Historically, only a fraction of retail sales associates have been provided with mobile devices, and those devices have enabled only a limited set of capabilities such as stocking, inventory management and product availability. One reason for this is the high cost of ruggedized mobile devices for use in retail. A typical high-speed scanner PDA can cost well over $1,200 each. In order to provide every sales associate with more information to help consumers, retailers are adopting lower-cost, feature-rich, smart mobile devices that provide more robust capabilities than specialized scanners. Mobile platforms built by Apple, Android, and third-party manufacturers are enabling this shift, along with a retail IT focus on enabling business processes in a more flexible, consistent, and re-usable fashion.

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Customer Perspective: 5 Retail Trends Driving Wi-Fi

This is the type of post that gets me excited. Today, I’m happy to feature a special customer guest author: Andrew vonNagy, CCIE #28298 (Wireless), and currently Technical Architect for a Fortune 50 retail company. Many of you may know Andrew from his active blog, Revolution Wi-Fi,  or his Twitter feed: @revolutionwifi. Stay with us over the next two weeks as Andrew offers his take on the intersection of Retail and the Wireless LAN industry.

Retail Wi-Fi networks have long been dominated by inventory management applications and services that enabled a more productive workforce and leaner operations. However, brick-and-mortar retail is being disrupted due to the explosive growth from pure e-commerce competitors offering [often] lower prices and a more personalized shopping experience. In addition, the e-commerce sales channel offers deeper product information, community reviews, and greater levels of localization and customization that resonate with consumers.

Brick and mortar retail must adapt to compete in this new environment. A key component of this adaptation is delivering new IT solutions while leveraging the physical assets of the storefront, mixing the benefits of in-store product “touch-and-feel” with the personalization of e-commerce shopping. Merging these two worlds together will create an enhanced shopping experience through the use of mobile Internet devices, often connected through Wi-Fi networks.

This week, we will cover the first of 5 trends driving Wi-Fi growth and new capabilities in retail organizations:

Trend 1: Consumer Interaction and Business Analytics

Physical retailers have the most influence over consumer purchase decisions in the store, when they are standing in front of the product they are weighing whether or not to buy. Historically, this has been through in-aisle marketing and signage. However, customers are increasingly equipped with mobile Internet access and turning to external sources of information in real-time while within a retail store. This has been coined the emergence of the “smart shopper”. These external sources of information are much more comprehensive than what the retailer can provide through traditional in-aisle marketing and signage, and this leaves the physical retailer at a big disadvantage.

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What is WebEx? A Cool Way to Have an Online Meeting

So you’ve heard the term WebEx but you have no idea what a WebEx is? You’ve come to the right place.

WebEx lets you have online meetings with anyone who has an Internet connection -- including mobile users. You will be connected via audio and you can share content from your computer which lets you see the same things at the same time -- like PowerPoint files, Word documents or even browse the web together. Within the meeting, you can “Pass the Ball” so any attendee can control the meeting and share.

WebEx can help any small business, teleworker or home user conduct their business meetings more professionally and efficiently.

Here are more details about the features you get with WebEx: Read More »

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New Mobile Apps Monitor UCS, Reboot Servers from 30,000 Feet

UCSand app screenshotMobile devices have changed the way we manage our lives—in fact, just the other day I used apps on my smartphone to pull up recipes and locate a nearby grocery store. (Now only if there were an app that could enable a smartphone to cook dinner.)

Did you know that there’s an app that can help you manage your Unified Computing System (UCS), too? UCSand, which is available for Android phones and can be found in the Android Market, enables you to monitor and control your UCS. Sounds pretty cool, don’t you think?

It definitely can be a useful tool, according to Colby Cousens, Systems Administrator for the City of Melrose, Massachusetts.

The city has a secure, multi-tenant FlexPod architecture in their data center. This solution provides the City of Melrose with the ability to offer secure network, storage, and compute resources to their partner communities.

“One of my own shortcomings regarding UCS is that I don’t get into the manager as often as I should to check events and warnings on the system,” Colby said. “The UCSand app highlights the value of Cisco’s XML-API in allowing a program to pull targeted data out of the UCS Manager without requiring an individual to navigate through extra configurations or information at the time.”

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Why no Wi-Fi at Fenway? – Missed Opportunity to Show Off

It is true I have become so dependent on having wireless access everywhere, that when I don’t have it I feel completely disconnected and no longer know how to socialize with my friends. Last Sunday I went to my beloved Fenway Park, one of the oldest baseball parks in America, and its age is showing.

Let me explain. For Father’s day I took my two-year-old son to Fenway Park for the first time, a pinnacle in any Boston Father’s life. To my surprise the opening ceremony included the new “Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins” driving around the park in the locally famous “Duck boats”. A Duck Boat is an amphibious vehicle used to tour Boston on the road and in the Charles River. But over the last 11 years their secondary purpose has been to support the parades of Boston and New England’s championship teams.

Now one thing you need to know is I am NOT a Hockey fan, but I have several friends who live and die by the Boston Bruins. Many of them went to the celebration parade the day before and couldn’t get closer than 20 yards from the Stanley cup. And here I was about 15 feet from it. Here is my view.

So there I am with my phone snapping pictures away and generating some really thought provoking e-mails about how my friends are missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime and I WAS THERE!!!

I sat in the stands, expecting the jealous responses I was bound to get (some not fit for publication!), but one thing stood in my way. Poor cellular network coverage and no Wi-Fi! Boston is notorious for having patchy cell coverage, and when an open wireless network wasn’t available my plans were foiled. I appreciate that the Red Sox management wants to maintain the old-time feel of baseball, but it’s times like these I realize just how dependent we all are on being connected. While sharing a moment with my friends may not be the most important use of the network, the ability to share them is powerful. If for nothing else than to support a dedicated fan, maybe Fenway should look into our Connected Stadium solution!

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