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.

Wi-Fi – Better Customer Service and the Experience Consumers Expect

Wi-Fi is quickly becoming the most effective way for companies to connect with their customers on mobile devices in real-time; and leveraging the online and onsite data collected about consumers who opt-in is top of mind for many CEO’s, CIO’s, CMO’s and the lines of business we speak with. In conjunction with this trend, the Cisco Customer Experience Report 2013 shows that consumers have come to expect free Wi-Fi on-the-go and half (50 percent) of consumers use mobile phones when shopping to compare prices and to use promotions/coupons. Consumers are relying on mobile devices in other business scenarios as well. For example, travelers in an airport can use their mobile device to alert the airline gate if they will be running late. In coffee shops, consumers utilize free Wi-Fi access to work and share social media updates with friends and followers on Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter.

Cisco and Facebook Wi-Fi: More Ways to Connect with Your Customers

In looking at these trends, consumer demand for more mobile connectivity and the related  shifts in business needs, we saw potential for enhanced consumer experiences and more informed business results. We’ve worked with Facebook to develop a new solution called Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) for Facebook Wi-Fi that significantly enhances the business and consumer engagement in a business venue.

So how does this solution work? When my wife and daughter are in the mall doing some holiday shopping and walk into a store running CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi, my daughter opens a browser on her mobile device, goes to any page and is directed to a “check in with Facebook” login page. She logs in to her Facebook account, is given access to the store’s Wi-Fi network and is taken to their Facebook Page. From there she can check-in, “like” the store, use and share promotional information with her Facebook friends. In return, the business can:

  • Increase brand recognition through venue check-ins shared on the consumer’s Timeline and News Feed. This could lead to millions of free impressions for the business with every visitor announcing to hundreds of their friends they are at a particular store, hotel, or restaurant.
  • Glean demographic data from checked-in users, which include age, gender, and geo-location, that provide more information and open the door for new opportunities.
  • Improve marketing campaigns by delivering targeted advertisements, and in some instances promotional deals based on the real-time information received from consumers in the venue – all in an effort to reel in revenue and realize the ROI of their marketing efforts.
  • Deliver the latest business news, service and promotional information directly to mobile consumers while they are in your venue via your business’s Facebook Page.

Real World Use Cases
Cisco and Facebook ran an early pilot of Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) for Facebook Wi-Fi for the Meeting of the Minds event held in September in Toronto at the Evergreen Brick Works facility. In May, our Cisco Cloud Networking Group collaborated with Facebook to offer this solution at Bay Area based Philz Coffee.  And today, Bloomin’ Brands Bonefish Grill is testing our solution in two of its restaurant locations in the U.S.

Our partnership with Facebook is to provide a very personalized mobile experience for consumers while they shop, spend time with friends and family. We will be rolling out this solution across some of the world’s top brands in retail, hospitality, and other markets. Check back in with us soon as we continue to share our progress and innovation together.

What I’m really excited about is how Cisco is enhancing the one-to-one consumer experience to be one-to-many, utilizing social media like Facebook to bring more consumers into a connected mobile experience. I’m sure that this will make the holiday season less chaotic and enjoyable for many of you. Please share your comments as I’d love to hear how you are benefitting or could benefit from this solution.


Sujai Hajela

Senior Vice President,

Enterprise Networking Group