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Apple iOS 8 and MAC Randomization: What It means for Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Solution

As you may have read, Apple’s iOS 8 will come with some changes to the way MAC addresses are exposed in Wi-Fi probe requests. Apple’s intent was to provide an additional layer of privacy for consumers and target those companies that offer analytics without providing any value to the end consumer. We’ve been getting some questions about what this means and how it impacts our Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX)  solution, so we wanted to clear this up for our customers.

What does this mean for you? 

First and foremost, Cisco has always been dedicated to privacy for our customers and their end-users. There are four aspects of privacy that are built into our CMX solution:

1. Anonymous Aggregate Information: All analytics are based on aggregate, anonymized location data.

2. Permission-based: Users have to opt-in to join a Wi-Fi network or download an app

3. MAC Address Hash: Users’ MAC addresses can be hashed before exposing to 3rd party apps

4. Opt Out: End-users are always presented with the option to opt out of location-based services

The true value of CMX analytics for organizations is in aggregate location data to be used for business analysis to improve the customer experience for end-users. Providing customers with high performing Wi-Fi not only keeps always-on mobile users happy and opens the doors to delighting customers with more personalized experiences, but also helps provide more granularity to those aggregate trends to feed back into the experience creation machine. Win-win.

What does this mean for our CMX value proposition?

This idea of a value exchange where the end consumer and the company both benefit has always been a core part of the Cisco offer. Cisco’s focus has always been in delivering rich Wi-Fi experiences to the end-user. CMX ties our best-in-class Wi-Fi performance with simple, seamless Wi-Fi connectivity and mobile services that provide direct value to the consumers, which gives them reason to opt into joining the Wi-Fi network. Our experience first approach paired with an analytics engine rooted in gathering aggregate trends is why our solution remains untouched and the value proposition for CMX holds stronger than ever before.

Bottom Line

For associated mobile devices, the CMX value proposition is unchanged. RF excellence and our location-based services keep us in a leadership position to deliver value to both the end-consumer and enterprise customer.

Core location capability and wIPS are unaffected and the CMX solution will continue to deliver:

  • CMX Connect providing seamless connectivity to Wi-Fi
  • CMX Analytics showing aggregate trends
  • CMX Engage creating context-aware, personalized experiences

For unassociated devices, the value proposition of CMX analytics has always been focused on providing broad aggregate trends and customers insights as opposed to individual user location or absolute numbers. Even with MAC randomizing for iOS 8 devices, customers will still be able to take advantage of  aggregate analysis based on trends and percentages when evaluated over a period of time (MoM, YoY, DoD).

Based on our current understanding, a small subset of aggregate analytics – particularly around loyalty metrics and dwell times for unassociated devices – may be impacted. However, organizations will still be able to leverage CMX analytics to gain better customer insights and business decisions based on users who opt-in and join their Wi-Fi network. As we continue to enhance MSE statistics, we will be adding features to allow venue owners to differentiate and filter out user generated MAC (i.e. Randomized iOS8 addresses)address from aggregate statistics.

You can read more about the iOS8 MAC randomization topic here:

For more on Cisco’s CMX solution, visit www.cisco.com/go/cmx.

To learn about how iOS 8 affects Cisco Meraki CMX, read this blog post.

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3 Comments.


  1. ” will be adding features to allow venue owners to differentiate and filter out user generated MAC” , how will you filter and different this? This article basically is about nothing… no details at all, just marketing…

       2 likes

    • Vivian Chan

      Hi John, Thanks for the comment–we don’t discuss roadmaps, but can assure you that we are actively working on new features to help our customers address their problems.

         0 likes

  2. Vivian Chan

    I wanted to follow-up with further details about the privacy options that Cisco provides in our CMX solution. We understand the importance of privacy, so were sure to build into CMX functionality that gives our enterprise and other business customers control over all four of the privacy-enhancing capabilities that I mentioned above, including opt-outs. Our business customers can in turn choose various opt-out mechanisms to provide to their end customers (e.g., individuals), including websites like https://account.meraki.com/optout. Our business customers have full control of these options, ensuring they decide when and how they are implemented and how they are presented to end users.

       0 likes