Digital Transformation in Retail with Mobile Beacons

Digital Transformation in Retail

Digital Transformation in Retail

Beacon technology is practically revolutionising the customer retail experience by bringing a whole new dimension of digital interaction between you and your customers. #Retail industry is going through a massive churn and CIOs and CMOs must pay attention in order to provide superior customer service by providing relevant shopping experience. (Read my previous article : Top 10 priorities for Retail CIOs for 2014 – 2015)

What is iBeacon and why is it better than NFC?

iBeacon is, for those who may not know, a version of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) software which was introduced by Apple starting version iOS 7. What we have seen in the past couple of months is that a whole new breed of developers and firms are coming with their own version of software to not only collect details of their customers but also proactively guide them in order to develop stronger and lasting relationships with their customers.

Technologically, Beacon tags have a reach of 70 meters or so and really beat the NFC (Near Field Communication – which I mentioned in my Fog Computing article sometime back), thereby giving it an edge to maximise its reach. Also its less intrusive since there is no scanning necessary.

Who are the big players?

While Apple, Estimoto, Paypal seem to dominate the market, a ton of new developers and firms are developing beacon technology driven apps for their specific customer needs (see Infographic plug below).

How will it transform the retail industry?

  1. Big Data Analytical Insights: Beacon technology can give retailers tremendous insights into the vast amount for data that they can slice and dice to really understand individual customer needs, how they navigate and what they buy etc. This is a great means to continuously improve in-store experience for their customers and eventually encourage them to shop more.
  2. Improved customer service: By gaining insights into your individual customers you can engage with them on a personal level and seek feedback from them. This will help retailers tremendously improve shopping experience and complementing it with superior customer service.
  3. Convert customers in loyal friends: This highly individualised service to customer will not only create loyal clients but through active engagement you could pick brand ambassadors who could become friends and actively engage with their network to promote your brand!

There are a lot of digital trends (see another article called 8 digital trends that will change the future of advertising) that will transform the advertising and beaconing is one of them. Happy beaconing!

Click further to download the Infographic.

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Big Data is the future of Digital Marketing

Couple of days ago I completed an introductory course from Wharton School on Marketing. It was good for me to understand what marketing traditionally did before the era of digital disruption dawned upon us. Traditionally marketing has been into the typical 4Ps, 5Cs and a lot of stuff is about connecting and building one on one marketing. It’s all about customer acquisition,retention and development. But how to do it in the age of Big Data and Internet of Things which connect our consumers in variety of ways?

I passed the final exam by almost scoring a perfect 10 but I realised that I missed the link between big data and marketing. I hope to provide marketers with this missing link here.

I will talk about the digital disruption , the big data challenge and opportunity and finally about extracting value through data driven relevant marketing.

CMO, CIO and Big Data Disruption

Big Data Marketing

Big Data Marketing

Data management is the new holy grail for a handful people who really know what it means to mine into the huge sea of data but most of us are oblivious of the real value of data. Even in marketing divisions! But this calls for a disciplined approach towards a a process that continuously focuses on data integration and visualisation from multitude of sources.

Gartner has predicted that by 2017, CMOs will own largest technology budget, even surpassing that of the CIO. Now it still needs to be seen how that will happen. We do however see it happening as many CIOs are either getting data and business savvy or they are quietly leaving their jobs. So this is a huge change for the traditional CIO role.

Still CMOs and marketeers also realise that they need technology expertise and know-how towards data hygiene. Securing data, backing up data, versioning, cleaning, scraping, etc is what data hygiene is all about. Marketers have traditionally shunned or even avoided IT completely and for valid reasons. I have seen it happen as well in my own organisation when my marketing colleagues openly complained about how slow and complex we were within IT departments!

Yet there is a change coming where big data is driving marketers and CMOs to professionalize the creative and hard-core data driven marketing talent under one roof. His roof! Many marketers are focusing on either professionally train themselves in data management and thus become faster in IT and extremely conversant in IT. This is obviously the huge challenge if you are a traditional CIO.

We have formally entered an age of data-driven marketing and it is changing at a dramatic pace. New channels to the customer, new application categories, new types of data to exploit, and new vendors and offerings emerge all the time. Rest assured, you know you will have to continue to become a lifelong student in order to continue to master this game!Wouldn’t you prefer to be a leader of this transformation than to be led by someone else? This is an exciting time for marketers who want to take on the big data leadership.

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Fog Computing Happens when Big Data Analytics marries Internet Of Things

Couple of years ago when virtualisation broke into mainstream and customers started deploying those technologies to reduce physical footprint, encapsulate legacy applications and Operating system – we saw this as the first overhaul of the IT industry in a long time since PCs made into the mainstream.

Then came Cloud computing in 2010 – more of a paradigm but still as an effective means to continue to effectively tap on the utility computing model using economies of scale. Cost and flexibility of use were the main drivers. Many traditional vendors are still struggling with this change as it dramatically affects their revenue and operating model and not all are as transparent and flexible. This was the second overhaul.

Still this is not solving the critical challenge that CIO, CMO and even CEO face today! I stated these aspects in my previous trending post on LinkedIn about Big Data. While above-mentioned overhauls address the cost and (hopefully) agility/flexibility part, it still does not help the business leaders to engage actively with their customers who are at the EDGE of all these disruptive changes and are also dramatically changing. This is where the concept of Edge Computing of Fog Computing was introduced by Cisco. And for what I have read and understood so far, I like it !

Hello Fog Computing, Goodbye Cloud Computing?

As Cloud Computing increasingly gets commoditized and as HyperCloud becomes mainstream, it might be time to reflect back on what the Cloud fixed for us. It gave us the following:

  • Adaptive subscription based model. You pay for what you use.
  • Homogeneous workloads could seamlessly and cost-efficiently be used on commodity hardware. (If you’re not on Amazon or Google Cloud, then you might want to check out why you’re paying so much)
  • Impacting performance with higher VM densities, awesome synergies in compute fabric
  • …and as a result of the above, a significantly reduced OPEX!

So it really is a blessing, right? Everything online and functioning at top speed. But wait! What about sensors and nodes that are increasingly penetrating into our homes, cars, grids via internet, the stuff we’re calling Internet Of Things? This is where Cisco introduced a foggy detail with its researchers calling for a different kind of platform called Fog Computing.

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Why Data Scientists are key to a successful Big Data Project

Until a few years ago the work of data scientist was isolated and mattered primarily for research and/or R&D purposes. The industry has been extremely thankful to the contributions of these clever individuals but we need them now in the mainstream! And as I wrote previously here on LinkedIn, it is creating a huge demand in the industry andradically transforming the hunt for big data talent.

Fast forward 2014 and today every CEO, CIO, CDO, CMO, Sales VP, Customer Case VP is seeking answers to questions that don’t exist and solutions to problems that are yet to come.

Typical questions in the minds of the leaders could be…

  1. How do I drive innovation within my company, industry or community in a dramatic fashion?
  2. How do we disrupt the industry with our products and services?
  3. How do we change and challenge our workforce’s mindset by providing insightful “out-of-the-box” data analytics?
  4. How do we launch a new LOB, product and/or service using these thin/thick/lazy/idle datafied analytics?
  5. For Governmental or CSR-driven businesses – How do we dramatically drive social change, reduce crime using data? For instance see how Memphis reduced its crime rate by 30% using data.

Think about it from your own industry perspective for a while.

An Example: For instance if you are in Oil & Gas sector. How do we enhance and optimise exploration and production (E&P)? With conventional technologies becoming commoditised and depleting traditional resources one has to competitively use the unconventional methods such as deepwater, tight oil or shale gas. I won’t get deeper into aspects such as seismic plotting, WAZ and NATS etc that is only generating more data waiting to be exploited!

Think what it can mean for your industry if you had the “right eyes” to spot the gold!

No industry today can say that it is not data driven. With vast volume, speed and variety of data coming from external and internal sources, the need to scientifically approach data is paramount for competitive intelligence of organisations. That is what is keeping CxOs awake at odd hours.

Say Hello to Data Science & Data Scientists

Wikipedia definition of data science…

Data science is the study of the generalizable extraction ofknowledge from data,[1] yet the key word is science.[2] It incorporates varying elements and builds on techniques and theories from many fields, including signal processingmathematics,probability modelsmachine learningstatistical learning,computer programmingdata engineeringpattern recognition and learning,visualizationuncertainty modelingdata warehousing, and high performance computing with the goal of extracting meaning from data and creating data products. Data Science is not restricted to only big data, although the fact that data is scaling up makes big data an important aspect of data science.

And who is a Data Scientist?

A practitioner of data science is called a data scientist. Data scientists solve complex data problems through employing deep expertise in some scientific discipline. It is generally expected that data scientists are able to work with various elements of mathematics, statistics and computer science, although expertise in these subjects are not required.[3] However, a data scientist is most likely to be an expert in only one or two of these disciplines and proficient in another two or three. This means that data science must be practiced as a team, where across the membership of the team there is expertise and proficiency across all the disciplines.

Why and why now?

Ok, so having addressed the boring what part, lets get on to the why of it. What is really happening in the industry?

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CIOs should adopt Hyper Cloud for Effective Service Integration

I had recently written an article on linkedin (please see high-resolution version on my website) about hyper cloud in the wake of the increasing commoditisation of cloud computing. Google Cloud came with extreme price cuts for its compute platform and that suddenly change the whole game! How are the local and regional IT vendors with data centres to compete against them? Think of large telco players and IT services players. Do they stand a chance against the likes of Google?

That was the game-changer #1

Last week I published this infographic on “cloud competitive landscape for 2014-2015″. In this infographic I included firms like Facebook, Alibaba, Dropbox and I got questions from CEOs of tech start-ups as to why I included a consumer company in it. Good question, actually!

These new entrants into the wide-open hypercloud marketplace will truly revolutionise how customers (read: consumers and enterprises) will consume services, how they will interact with each other, how they will use swarm intelligence to respond to brands and finally how their collective wisdom can be used to improve services, products. In fact, this new form of social computing where immersive customer experience will not be limited to individual buyers but also enterprises, will be the defining factor in true digital transformation all businesses seek to achieve.

This is a massive game-change #2

But still, what does this all have to do the CIO? S/he is there to deliver services to internal customers, right?

WRONG!

It goes without saying that the new and emerging CxOs – see my other inforgraphic on digital transformation here on Linkedin and on tarrysingh.com (for higher resolution), are putting increasing pressure on the CIO to act fasterbe nimbleknow everything and speak their language.

What is really changing on the service side of business?

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The next Big Data battleground is Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup

big data in brazil fifa 2014 world cup

big data in brazil fifa 2014 world cup

The scene – Enter the robot!

Shortly before 5pm local time on 12 June at Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, a young paraplegic Brazilian will stand up from a wheelchair, walk over to midfield, and take a kick in the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup.

The technology in question is a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton. The complex and conspicuous robotic suit, built from lightweight alloys and powered by hydraulics, has a simple enough function. When a paraplegic person straps themselves in, the machine does the job that their leg muscles no longer can.

The exoskeleton is the culmination of years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers on the Walk Again project. The robotics work was coordinated by Gordon Cheng at the Technical University in Munich, and French researchers built the exoskeleton. Nicolelis’s team focused on ways to read people’s brain waves, and use those signals to control robotic limbs.

What the heck does this have to do with Football?

I was having a small chat on Twitter last with a tech vendor (my former employer) and also got a link to their whitepaper on big data which they had produced after the Sochi Olympic games 2014. It prompted me to write this little article. Hope you like it.

The beauty of a digital society is easy to observe, with a smartphone in your hand, a tablet in your backpack, glasses and watches wrapped around your body and big IT systems locked away in your offices or in the cloud. But less noticeable is the information itself, where is it?

Some 60 years computers entered mainstream society, the datafication had started back then. It was slow process but it had begun to accumulate nevertheless. Not only is today’s world awash with more information (read: ‘data‘) than ever before, but that information is growing faster at an exponential pace. The change of scale has led to a change of state. The quantitative change has led to a qualitative change. When it first entered the field of astronomy and genomics which was some 15 years ago, big data was born.

Big Data is not all a great dream: customers, societies, large global events must use it effectively. The concept is now migrating to all areas of human endeavour, such as mind controlled robots in Brazil.

Welcome, yet another big data generating device into our lives!

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Cloud Computing Competitive Landscape 2014 – An Infographic

Cloud Computing Competitive Index 2014 - 2015

Cloud Computing Competitive Index 2014 – 2015

NOTES ABOUT THE METHODOLOGY

  • In this infographic vendors were chosen in 4 key domains namely cloud services providers (management and orchestration)big data & social analytics and storage, , cloud stack (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and finally security. These segments can be further broken down but that would have made this infographic very exhaustive! Continue reading