Data analytics mining on the edge

An old grocery manager’s trick for finding out if shoppers are on their way to the counter is to spy if they are heading for the frozen food section. The rationale is, people don’t want frozen food to thaw while they’re shopping so they save these items for last.

Imagine if you could rig store cameras with a software that is able to count people wondering around the frozen food section for specified periods of time and then send out alerts to the manager when a predetermined number is reached.

“For one thing, managers will be able to judge if a large number of people will soon be heading for the counters and he or she can call up additional cashiers to avoid long lineups and irritated customers,” according to Mike Flannagan, general manager of Cisco’s data analytics group. “But that’s just the beginning, the technology can be used for any number of things including determining consumer preferences and potential promotional opportunities.”

Such as system is actually being used by a customer of Cisco in the food industry and it’s part of the Cisco Connected Analytics for the Internet of Everything, a portfolio of tools and services intended to help people and businesses extract value from data generated by a growing interconnected network of people, processes, sensors and devices.



Cisco is keeping its eye on the network’s edge, where its experts believe much of the $19 trillion opportunity associated with the IoT (or IoE as Cisco puts it) will come from and that analytics opportunities will account for as much as $7.3 trillion of that amount.

“More than 37 per cent of Cisco customers believe majority of the IoE data will be processed at the edge,” said Flannagan. “What gives Cisco a unique opportunity to solve their problems is we have end-to-end solutions in this space.”

A recent Cisco survey indicates that 40 per cent of organizations believe inaccessibility and inability to interpret data is their biggest hurdle to achieving “actionable insights” from data. Cisco’s plans are centered on offering enterprises and service providers solutions to bring together various types of data from different sources and provide the means to glean insights from the information.

The portfolio it announced includes:

  • Connected Analytics for Events: Uses insights from Wi-Fi and device usage reporting to provide immediate visibility. For example, it can be used to evaluate sports fan behavior. Understanding what fans are doing, where they are in the venue and what kind of experience they are having allows organizations to make split-second decisions that will enhance the fan experience by indicating for example, where concession stands need additional staffing or where extra event security may be needed.
  • Connected Analytics for Retail: Correlates in-store video camera feeds and Wi-Fi data with existing operational data such as inventory. Retailers can track in-store patterns and use existing video technology to determine, for example, where shoppers are spending more time in the store and which shelves need restocking, information that can immediately be used to improve shoppers’ experience and drive better store performance.
  • Connected Analytics for Service Providers:Provides intelligence based on patterns in networks, operations and customer data. End-to-end visibility helps service providers improve network planning and understand infrastructure investments in the context of service usage/adoption, and customer and competitive dynamics. These insights help service providers deliver a better and more personalized experience such as more accurate recommendations on the types of movies a customer may enjoy or the ability to send out alerts regarding usage in advance of billing cycles.
  • Connected Analytics for IT:Provides business intelligence and insights to help align IT capabilities such as data management and data governance with business objectives. For example, analytics can be applied to align implementation of new IT capabilities such as deploying collaboration technology in new branch offices or by understanding evolving security requirements in real time so organization can mitigate risk by improving cyber security.
  • Connected Analytics for Network Deployment: Analyzes the network for operational efficiencies, resolution of incidents and visibility into network deployment. It allows organizations to detect issues before they happen for proactive problem resolution and to make future strategic decisions on how to drive maximum network stability and performance at the lowest possible cost.
  • Connected Analytics for Mobility: Uses location analytics toanalyze wireless networks and provide insights about Cisco Service Provider Wi-Fi solution customers. By learning about Wi-Fi use patterns and adoption, service providers can proactively plan Wi-Fi capacity, improve business operations and uncover potential new revenue opportunities such as how to tailor pricing plans based on customer usage.
  • Connected Analytics for Collaboration: Measures the adoption of collaboration technologies internally so a company can analyze CiscoCollaboration applications. For example, an organization can track how many employees are adopting the collaboration technology, how they are using it and what kind of ROI they are seeing from collaborative selling or how the technology is helping reduce travel costs.
  • Connected Analytics for Contact Center:Provides visibility across an organization’s entire call center services to deliver actionable recommendations that help organizations understand their customers, provide better service, and improve customer satisfaction. For example, with this visibility, organizations can make adjustments to ensure that the right calls are routed to the right level of service in a timely manner.

Some of these solutions are available now and others will be rolled out in 2015.

The Norwegian football league Norsk Toppfotball (NTF) , implemented a program using Cisco Connected Analytics for its events recently to determine what other activities the leagues fans are doing when they are at the watching their team.

Flannagan said, the system involved connecting to fans’ mobile devices and locating the devices and determining what apps are being used during the game. He said the league was able to find out if fans were going to concession stands during the game or doing Web searches and social media activities in the stadium.

The insight gained, is helping NTF implement improvements in concession offerings as well as fan engagement content on the team’s Web site.

“For example, we will be able to offer specials to fans at the nearest concession stand based on previous purchases or deliver video highlights and statistics of their favorite player as the action unfolds on the pitch,” said John Ola Bergaplass, chief technical strategist for NTF. “It is truly exciting to be moving in the direction of harnessing more intelligence around our supporters’ experience to further customize the environment and place them at the center of the action.”

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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