At the Cisco Live Event 2014 in San Francisco last week, we heard about plenty of updates, extensions, and new acquisitions to expand the business. The major technologies highlighted were InterCloud, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), and the Internet of Everything (IoE). Among these new offerings, I reveal that Cisco’s extended big data and analytics capabilities excited me the most. Why? Because its data virtualization techniques can help customers easily analyze large volumes of virtual data, no matter where it physically resides; enhanced video analytics technology could improve the customer experience when checking out in retail stores or waiting for a train; while IoE analytics and digital intelligence increase customer engagement.

  • Data virtualization supports big data analytics. End user organizations realize the importance of quickly and carefully making decisions; to do this, they plan to centralize data from different branch offices or departments. Consolidating data that resides in multiple systems and in global locations — or that is locked away in spreadsheets — is expensive. For example, telecom operators in China have hundreds of millions subscribers and need to consolidate and analyze this customer data — but it resides in 31 provincial companies. Data consolidation will be a huge and expensive project, but data virtualization technology can help solve this problem. Customers could consider adding Cisco to their data virtualization vendor shortlist, especially given Cisco’s acquisition of Composite Software last July.
  • Video analytics technology has broader usage scenarios. Cisco demonstrated several uses cases for video analytics technology during the event. Examples included one of the largest retailers using video analytics to shorten the customer checkout time; a public transportation company using video analytics to show a "heat map" of platforms in real time and direct people to the nearest available train car; and smart parking in Barcelona that saves US$67 million per year. One city government in China is considering using a smart parking solution from Cisco that comprises sensors on parking spots and video cameras with analytics, hoping to offset the fast-growing number of vehicles in the city.
  • Digital intelligence and IoE analytics increase customer hits and then grow revenues. Cisco’s digital intelligence and IoE analytics offerings use data from mobile sensors in connected devices like smartphones or vehicles to deliver business outcomes. Some carriers are interested in digital marketing on the mobile Internet, allowing them to push the most relevant ads to the street when owners of targeted smartphones pass by. They can also use these technologies to increase the reach rate of ads on digital billboards, controlling the size of the ad content based on the driving speed on the freeway.

What it means to you: Start considering Cisco in new spaces like big data, video, digital intelligence, and IoE analytics. Large organizations like telcos and banks, with huge quantities of distributed data could consider its data virtualization technology as a way to start using big data analytics before consolidating that data. Municipal governments can learn from Chinese cities, which are seeing ever-increasing numbers of vehicles, and should consider video analytics, digital intelligence, and IoE analytics to optimize public transportation and smart parking.