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Black Friday. Holiday Travel. Consumers have a more Enjoyable Experience and Businesses are Successful

Thanksgiving is around the corner and the holiday season will be upon us. What will Black Friday look like this year? I know that this is a time when things get more chaotic in my household. As my kids get excited for a break from school, and we all look forward to extended time with family and friends, we must first get through all the holiday preparations and planning. Am I better off ordering gifts for my wife and kids online versus going to the store? Do I want to deal with crowds and getting lost in a retail haze on Black Friday or Christmas Eve? And where will we spend our holiday vacation this year? Will we have access to Wi-Fi wherever we go should I need to check email, or so my kids can watch their favorite shows on Netflix?

This also got me thinking about the questions that keep businesses up at night during the holiday season. These include:

  • How can I have a one-to-one engagement with every customer or guest?
  • How can I get more customers into my venue?
  • How can I avoid showrooming?
  • How can I efficiently use my physical assets and human resources to ensure my venue is set up to maximize customer flow and staffing?
  • How can I stand out from the crowd and compete with rival brands?
  • And advertisements – how can I make them specific to the consumer in my venue rather than generic for many?

Taking these business concerns into account and listening to our customers have prompted Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Group to team up with Facebook to enable businesses to turn their challenges into opportunities. We’ve looked at how consumers can have a more connected experience while in business venues and at the same time how the business can improve the engagement with consumers while they are in the venue. We want to make this year’s holiday season more pleasant for everyone.

Read More »

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Leveraging Location: Cisco Sets the Curve with Facebook and Other Partners

Have you heard? Many organizations are now realizing that they can leverage location-based services to provide personalized mobile experiences and customer analytics. It pays to stay connected to your consumers and enhancing the mobile experience. Today at Interop New York, we unveiled a number of new product and solution innovations built to expand on and extend the power of Cisco Unified Access to drive these new connected mobile experiences.

Nearly one year into announcing our Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution, and with today’s announcement, there’s even more. We’re kicking off a deep dive blog series to give you an in depth look at the new enhancements, but for now here’s a taste of what’s new:

CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi 

CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi allows retailers, hoteliers, restaurants, and more to engage and analyze customers and guests using the Cisco and Facebook Wi-Fi platforms. It enables guests to easily connect to the Wi-Fi network using their Facebook credentials and “check-in” to the venue’s Facebook profile. The check ins give venues additional marketing and branding opportunities through broadcasting through guest news feeds, as well as valuable demographic information. See how a conference center, Evergreen Brickworks, is using the solution:

CMX Analytics

Enhanced onsite analytics have a revamped UI to show you how, where, and when customers and visitors are moving throughout a venue. Read More »

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The Sixth Step to Enterprise Mobility: Power to Your People

This is the sixth post in a blog series featuring Vine-format videos focusing on the “Six Essential Steps for Unleashing the Power of Enterprise Mobility”. The first blog post discussing how to build a mobile structure can be found here. The second blog post highlighting the benefits going virtual can be found here. The third blog post focused on preparing enterprises for the division of devices can be found here. The fourth blog post focused on creating an app checkpoint can be found here. The fifth blog post focused on defending data can be found here.

step6a

Watch video at http://youtu.be/3kD5EpXypFc

Over the course of this series, we’ve discussed how enterprises can better enable people to work in their own way, regardless of where they are and what device they are using. We started by making smart plans at an architecture level and then implementing secure policies along the way. The final step enterprises need to take may be the hardest one of all but can yield the greatest results. To increase productivity, business agility, and customer satisfaction, enterprises must actively embrace mobility in the workplace. Here’s a short checklist to help organizations with this last step:

1. Go Beyond Provisioning Mobility for Sales: Think “All-Company” Mobility.

The definition of mobility is expanding to include not just “road warriors” but also “corridor warriors,” as well as guest and home workers.

Make sure your mobility architecture is designed to accommodate them all. Then create a phased implementation plan. Determine which users and business processes you want to prioritize first and move forward at a pace that makes sense for your enterprise.

An all-hands-on-deck approach will also help drive future implementation of mobile solutions. Read More »

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It’s About Retail, Not Technology

Hello, and welcome to my inaugural blog! I am happy to be here sharing my thoughts and experiences with you, because I have to tell you: I have the coolest job in the world.

I’ve spent my entire life in retail, starting as a part-time worker while in school and moving up through merchandising and operations to regional vice president at Shopko Stores, Inc., overseeing the work of 12,000 employees. Over more than 20 years, I fell in love with the whole process of retail. When I was invited to work in the retail technology sector, it seemed a natural extension of the work I was already doing. Relatively few tech companies build their solutions around store needs – too often, they tend to focus on technology for technology’s sake. In fact, sometimes retailers do the same thing! I saw an opportunity to impact how vendors – and retailers – think about technologies that truly add value to the business.

Today’s trend toward mobility, or BYOD, is a great example. I’m sorry if this shocks you, but mobility without a strategy has no value at all for the retailer! I have seen stores invest in Wi-Fi networks while continuing to build cell-based apps – this despite Wi-Fi’s higher speeds, more flexible capabilities, and ability to improve the shopping and selling experience. They don’t want employees surfing the Internet, so they block employee access to the network and information that could help improve sales. They understand that shoppers are “showrooming” – sharing opinions and comparison shopping online from the store – but do not leverage the same behavior to promote products and analyze customer trends.

Mobility is a vehicle for improving the business, an extension of overall strategy. (You might like to check out this Lippis Report on “Monetizing Public Wi-Fi in Business to Consumer Relationships.”) I work with companies to help determine how to use such vehicles to define the customer experience, collect and manage large masses of data, and make store operations more efficient. I also help design the Cisco solutions that solve these retail business problems.

Join me on a journey to learn how stores are approaching, managing, and dealing with today’s innovations and how they are meeting customer needs. We’ll talk about how stores are using today’s systems, the most recent trends, the latest research, and how retailers are dealing with this very rapidly changing industry. Please get back to me with your own stories and questions in the comments section.

One more word: I love retail trivia! Comment if you know the answer to this question: What retailer in the country has the highest amount of sales per square foot of its stores?

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The Fifth Step to Enterprise Mobility: Defending Your Data

This is the fifth post in a blog series featuring Vine-format videos focusing on the “Six Essential Steps for Unleashing the Power of Enterprise Mobility”. The first blog post discussing how to build a mobile structure can be found here. The second blog post highlighting the benefits going virtual can be found here. The third blog post focused on preparing enterprises for the division of devices can be found here. The fourth blog post focused on creating an app checkpoint can be found here

In a 2012 survey of IT executives and CEOs, nearly half of the companies that permit mobility and BYOD reported experiencing a data or security breach as a result of an employee-owned device accessing the corporate network. In addition, security concerns continue to remain a key issue for decision makers looking to deploy additional mobile solutions such as enterprise mobile apps, according to a recent article from IT Pro.

Careful planning can help enterprises manage security concerns and harness the power of mobility. Here’s a brief checklist to help organizations secure devices, data and the network:

Watch the video: http://youtu.be/k8ytncvjE7M

Watch the video: http://youtu.be/k8ytncvjE7M

1. IT Pushing of Capability Down to End Devices

 IT needs to be able to push capabilities down to end devices and access control for both on-premises and off-premises apps, while providing pull capabilities for users, so they can self-provision apps.

IT must have the ability to apply situational control policies (for example, for disabling cameras on mobile devices in order to protect on-premises company assets when employees and guests are on corporate premises or in restricted areas). Another must have? The ability to remotely locate, lock, and wipe devices should there be a theft or if an employee leaves the company. It is also essential to be able to automate geo-specific policies to control roaming costs when workers are out of country. Read More »

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