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office-workers-tablet-collaboration-1.jpgA rise in the use of mobile devices and applications has heightened the demand for organizations to elevate their plans to deliver mobile analytics solutions. However, designing mobile analytics solutions without understanding your audience and purpose can sometimes backfire.

 

I frequently discover that in mobile analytics projects, understanding the purpose is where we take things for granted and fall short—not because we don’t have the right resources to understand it better, but because we tend to form the wrong assumptions. Better understanding of the “mobile purpose” is critical for success and we need to go beyond just accepting the initial request at the onset of our engagements.

 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the purpose as “the reason why something is done or used: the aim or intention of something.” Although the reasons for a mobile analytics projects may appear obvious on the surface, a re-evaluation of the initial assumptions can often prove to be invaluable both for the design and longevity of mobile projects.

 

Here are a few points to keep in mind before you schedule your first meeting or lay down a single line of code.

 

Confirm link to strategy

 

I often talk about the importance of executive sponsorship. There’s no better person than the executive sponsor to provide guidance and validation. When it comes to technology projects (and mobile analytics is no different), our engagements need to be linked directly to our strategy. We must make sure that everything we do contributes to our overall business goal.

 

Consider the relevance

 

Is it relevant? It’s a simple question, yet we have a tendency to take it for granted and overlook its significance. It doesn’t matter whether we’re designing a strategy for mobile analytics or a simple mobile report—relevance matters.

 

Moreover, it isn’t enough just to study its current application. We need to ask: Will it be relevant by the time we deliver? Even with rapid deployment solutions and the use of agile project methodologies, there’s a risk that certain requirements may become irrelevant if current business processes that mobile analytics depends on change or your mobile analytics solution highlights gaps that may require a redesign of your business processes. In the end, what we do must be relevant both now and when we Go Live.

 

Understand the context

 

Understanding the context is crucial, because everything we do and design will be interpreted according to the context in which the mobile analytics project is managed or the mobile solutions are delivered. When we talk about context in mobile analytics, we mustn’t think only about the data consumed on the mobile device, but also how that data is consumed and why it was required in the first place.

 

We’re also interested in going beyond the what to further examine the why and how. Why is this data or report relevant? How can I make it more relevant?

Finding these answers requires that you get closer to current or potential customers (mobile users) by involving them actively in the process from day one. You need to closely observe their mobile interactions so you can validate your assumptions about the use cases and effectively identify gaps where they may exist.

 

Bottom line: Focus on the business value

 

Ultimately, it all boils down to this: What is the business value?

 

Is it insight into operations so we can improve productivity? Is it cost savings through early detection and preventive actions? Is it increased sales as a result of identifying new opportunities?

 

What we design and how we design will directly guide and influence many of these outcomes. If we have confirmed the link to strategy, considered the relevance, and understood the context, then we have all the right ingredients to effectively deliver business value.

 

In the absence of these pieces, our value proposition won’t pass muster.

 

Stay tuned for my next blog in the Mobile Analytics Design series.

 

You may also like the Mobile BI Strategy series on IT Peer Network.

 

Connect with me on Twitter @KaanTurnali, LinkedIn and here on the IT Peer Network.

 

  A version of this post was originally published on turnali.com and also appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog

Insider6.jpgEven after nearly 25 years, I continue to be excited and passionate about security.  I enjoy discussing my experiences, opinions, and crazy ideas with the community.  I often respond to questions and comments on my blogs and in LinkedIn, as it is a great platform to share ideas and communicate with others in the industry.  Recently I had responded to a Network Admin seeking a career in cybersecurity.  With their permission, I thought I would share a bit of the discussion as it might be helpful to others.

 

Mr. Rosenquist - I have been in the Information Technology field as a network administrator for some 16 years and am looking to get into the Cyber Security field but the opportunity for someone that lacks experience in this specialized field is quite difficult. I too recognize the importance of education and believe it is critical to optimum performance in your field. What would your recommendation of suggested potential solutions be to break into this field?  Thank you for your time and expertise.


 

Glad to hear you want to join the ranks of cybersecurity professionals! The industry needs people like you. You have a number of things going for you. The market is hungry for talent and network administration is a great background for several areas of cybersecurity.

 

Depending on what you want to do, you can travel down several different paths. If you want to stay in the networking aspects, I would recommend either a certification from SANS (or other reputable training organization with recognizable certifications) or dive into becoming a certified expert for a particular firewall/gateway/VPN product (ex. PaloAlto, CISCO, Check Point, Intel/McAfee, etc.). The former will give you the necessary network security credentials to work on architecture, configuration, analysis, operations, policy generation, audit, and incident response. The latter are in very high demand and specialize in the deployment, configuration, operation, and maintenance of these specific products.  If you want to throw caution to the wind and explore areas outside of your networking experience, you can go for a university degree and/or security credentials. Both is better but may not be necessary.

 

I recommend you work backwards. Find job postings for your ‘dream job’ and see what the requirements are. Make inquiries about preferred background and experience. This should give you the insights to how best fill your academic foundation.  Hope this helps. - Matthew Rosenquist

 

The cybersecurity industry is in tremendous need of more people with greater diversity to fill the growing number of open positions.  Recent college graduates, new to the workforce, will play a role in satiating the need, but there remain significant opportunities across a wide range of roles.  Experienced professionals with a technical, investigative, audit, program management, military, and analysis background can pivot into the cybersecurity domain with reasonable effort.  This can be a great prospect for people who are seeking new challenges, very competitive compensation, and excellent growth paths.  The world needs people from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and skills to be a part of the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

 

 

An open question to my peers; what advice would you give to workers in adjacent fields who are interested in the opportunities of cybersecurity?

 

 

Interested in more?  Follow me on Twitter (@Matt_Rosenquist) and LinkedIn to hear insights and what is going on in cybersecurity.

2016 Intel IT cybersec 2.jpgIntel Corporation has a secret advantage to protect itself from cyber threats; a world class Information Technology (IT) shop. The 2015-2016 Intel IT Annual Performance Report showcases the depth of security, operational efficiency, and innovation to deliver robust IT services for business value.

 

IT is typically a thankless job, relegated to the back office, data centers, network rooms, and call-center cubicles.  Although not a profit center, Intel IT has an important role in the daily business of a global technology innovation and manufacturing giant.  Cybersecurity is an integral part of IT’s job to keep Intel running. 

 

2016 Intel IT cybersec 3.jpg

 

I spent many years working within Intel IT and security operations.  I can say with confidence it is one of the best IT shops in the industry.  The proof is in the report.

 

Intel IT has produced an annual report for many years to highlight their efforts to enable growth of the business, improve productivity of employees, manage costs, and protect the confidentiality of data and availability of critical systems.

 

This year is no different.  Intel has a massive network and digital net-worth to protect.  Intel presents a big target to attackers, both internal and external, and must defend itself with industry best practices.  In many cases it is involved in the development and proof-of-concept testing with the Intel Security solutions teams to vet products and request needed capabilities in response to new threats. 

 

Here is a quick rundown of how Intel IT security stands guard.  Security supports over 100k employees in 72 countries, at 153 sites.  They are charged in protecting networks, clouds, servers, storage, PC’s, tablets, phones, and all the applications connecting them.  They must protect very sensitive silicon manufacturing, assembly, and test facilities where robots, chemicals, and people are making the magic of computer chips a reality.

 

Every day about 13 billion events get logged in the security tools.  These are critical to detect threats and attacks.  In the past year, 225 million pieces of malware were blocked from infecting Intel’s networks and computers.  Keeping systems patched and squashing vulnerabilities is a huge and constant job.  Over 12 million security events were addressed to close system vulnerabilities.  Intel IT security systems, people, and management are vigilant and focused in their role.  More importantly, they and the fellow employees they serve understand the value of their contribution, security policies, and continual awareness training.  Security is a tremendously big job, but when management, employees and security professionals work as a team, incredible results are possible.

 

The 2015-2016 Intel IT Annual Performance Report can be downloaded for free here: http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/best-practices/intel-it-annual-performance-report-2015-16-paper.pdf

 

 

Interested in more?  Follow me on Twitter (@Matt_Rosenquist) and LinkedIn to hear insights and what is going on in cybersecurity.

The Internet of Things (IOT) – the technology world is abuzz about it. Today, more objects are connected to the Internet than there are people in the world, and the number of IoT objects is expected to grow to between 25 and 50 billion by 2020, depending on which analyst you read. Security cameras, household and business appliances, lighting fixtures, climate control systems, water treatment plants, cars, traffic lights, fetal heart monitors, and power plant controls, just to name a few—the opportunities to collect and use data are seemingly endless.

 

What does all this mean for enterprise IT?

 

As the Industry Engagement Manager in Intel IT EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), I’m working with my colleagues to implement IoT solutions that align to our IT IoT strategy.

 

Why does IT need an IoT strategy you ask? Well, considering the growth of IoT solutions over time, business groups in many companies are looking for their own IoT point solution to solve their problems. They may not come to IT for the solution. Many may implement differing solutions, such as sensors, gateways, protocols, and platforms. This is not the most cost-effective or efficient approach for Intel for many reasons. Who will manage and support these point solutions over time? Who will verify that they are secure? Can the network handle the new data volume growth? If the solution “breaks,” will the business groups ask IT to fix them – if so, IT may inherit solutions that do not match the enterprise architecture needs and therefore may need to be redesigned, replaced, or both. These are all important questions, and there are many other reasons to have an IoT strategy, which I will discuss in a future blog. As IT professionals, we need to have a seat at the table when IoT solutions are being defined, to ensure the business gets it right the first time.

 

We recently published a white paper, “Integrating IoT Sensor Technology into the Enterprise,” describing the best practices we have developed relating to IoT. The paper shares the 14 best practices we use that enable us to successfully launch an IoT project. We hope that by sharing these best practices, we can help others to also successfully implement IoT solutions in their enterprise.

 

What we’ve learned is that once you’ve defined the process, IoT projects can be implemented in an efficient and streamlined fashion. Each step does require some effort to define its requirements, but once the steps are defined, they can be used in a repeatable manner. To summarize our defined best practices, here’s the flow:

 

Blog-Roadmap.pngPre-Explore the Technology and Concept

  • Best Practice #1: Build an IoT Team
  • Best Practice #2: Define the IoT System

 

Explore the Project Feasibility and Value

  • Best Practice #3: Determine the Business Value
  • Best Practice #4: Acquire Stakeholder Agreement and Funding

 

Plan and Scope the Project

  • Best Practice #5: Classify the Sensor Data
  • Best Practice #6: Design the Network Infrastructure and Choose IoT Devices
  • Best Practice #7: Review Environmental Conditions
  • Best Practice #8: Define Space and Electrical Power Needs

 

Develop and Deploy the IoT System

  • Best Practice #9: Secure the IoT Devices and Data
  • Best Practice #10: Align with Privacy and Corporate Governance Policies
  • Best Practice #11: Design for Scalability
  • Best Practice #12: Integrate and Manage the IoT Devices
  • Best Practice #13: Establish a Support Model
  • Best Practice #14: Plan the Resources

 

Using these best practices, we’ve done many IoT proofs of concept across our enterprise, using components of the Intel® IoT Platform and the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework. Over time we are adding elements to the Intel IoT platform deployed in our environment. We are currently using many aspects of the Intel IoT platform, and so are other companies, and they are turning to Intel for advice on how best to implement their IoT solutions. For example, Siemens has adopted Intel’s IoT hardware and software stack for their smart parking initiative.

 

Our mission is to standardize on an end-to-end Intel IoT Platform-based solution that meets the wide and varied IoT needs of Intel, a global organization. Intel IT wants to transform the business by providing the IoT “plumbing” – that is, the platform building blocks – that enable Intel’s business groups to easily deploy IoT solutions when they need them.

 

Examples of IoT technology enabled by Intel include the Intel® Quark™ microcontroller D2000, Intel Gateways featuring Intel® Quark™ or Intel® Atom™ processors, and Intel® Security (McAfee) solutions integrated within our Wind River OS (Linux* or RTOS-VxWorks*). Wind River, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel, also has an edge management solution for centrally managing edge devices, known as Helix* Device Cloud.

 

The IoT projects that we’ve done so far have shown great promise, and have resulted in significant ROI. Fully integrating the IoT into the enterprise isn’t an overnight project – it’s a continual journey and is a significant change in how business is done. But putting the building blocks in place now will make the journey shorter and easier, and will enable Intel to fully realize the business value of the IoT. You can learn more about our other IOT projects by reviewing our recently published 2015-2016 Intel IT Annual Performance Report.

 

I’d be interested to hear what other enterprise IT professionals are doing with IoT. Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below – I look forward to the conversation!

tax-idtheft-logo.jpgCyber criminals are plotting to take advantage of tax season, by fraudulently impersonating consumers and scamming Americans.  For the citizens of the United States, tax season is upon us, where we diligently file our annual tax returns with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The problem is, in this digital age of electronically filing forms, the checks and balances to protect from fraud have not satisfactorily kept pace. 

 

Tax ID Fraud is a Terrible Problem

FTC ID theft 2015.jpgCyber criminals are taking advantage of weak identification validation controls to commit tax fraud. Tax identity theft happens when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information and submits information which results in a refund, to them not you.  They use your name and Social Security number with fictitious data, such as a different employer and address to get a tax refund from the IRS.  The IRS, not knowing better, accepts the information and is compelled to issue the refund in a very timely manner, else they must pay interest.  So the common practice is to accept the information at face-value and issue the refund to the submitter.  Thieves will have the funds placed on a pre-paid debit card or obtain a refund check they will quickly have cashed.  If things are later found to be incorrect, the IRS may move to resolve the problem, but the criminal in most cases is long gone.  The real citizen is then left with a rejection notice stating a filing has already taken place when they file their legitimate tax forms.  It can take a very long time to correct the matter, over a year to receive an earned refund, and many frustrating hours navigating through the crowded process. 

 

Attackers are committing a lot of fraud and both the IRS and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are concerned as the problem swells in size every year.  Tax or wage ID theft complaints more than doubled from 109k in 2014 to over 221k in 2015.  In the US, ID theft is on the rise.  FTC received over 490 thousand consumer complaints, a 47% increase over 2014, with the biggest contributor to the rise being tax refund fraud.  Bureau of Justice estimates 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014.  That is about 7% of the US population aged 16 years or older.

 

Most of the IRS efforts to date have been around prevention.  For 2016, the IRS and FTC have rolled out consumer education and incident reporting sites.  Tax identity theft, which can include other forms of tax fraud, has been the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past several years.  The IRS prides itself in quick turnaround for processing electronic filings and issuing a refund, targeting around 10 days.  Within that process is a set of filtering algorithms, which improves every year, to identify fraudulent tax submissions.  In 2015 the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flagged about 5 million suspicious returns, protecting $11 billion. 

 

Recently, the federal government targeted south Florida, one of the nation’s hot-spots for ID fraud, and issued a Geographic Targeting Order (GTO) for check cashing companies to take extra steps in verifying customer’s identification before cashing income tax returns.  For refund checks over $1000, customers must provide valid government-issued identification, the check cashing company must take a digital picture of the customer and obtain a clear thumbprint for the transaction to proceed.  Extreme measures to be sure, but one targeted specifically for 2 counties to stem the flow of tax fraud. 

     

Best practices to protect yourself from Tax ID Fraud:

  1. File your taxes as early as possible.  Sadly, it is a race.  The first submission, whether it be you or a fraudster, will likely be the return accepted from the IRS.  So get your tax return into the IRS as fast as possible.  File electronically if you don’t already to expedite the process
  2. Protect you Social Security Number (SSN).  Nowadays, many different organizations from healthcare to utilities may ask for your SSN.  Challenge them and verify how they will use and protect the information.  For every company who has your SSN, the chance of it being lost due to a data breach goes up.  Many companies will use the SSN as a unique identifier or as part of a verification process, but are open to use a different number if asked.  So ask!
  3. Check your credit report.  Unusual activity can be an indicator of trouble.  So get a copy and look for activity which you did not initiate.  By law, these reports are free at least once a year.  Go to the FTC site for more information or directly to annualcreditreport.com to order your free annual report.
  4. Report ID theft quickly, if it occurs.  Visit IdentityTheft.gov, the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. You can report identity theft, get step-by-step advice, sample letters, and your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. These resources will help you fix problems caused by the theft.  If your SSN has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
  5. Consider getting an Identity Protection PIN (form 14039).  An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of their SSN on fraudulent federal income tax returns. It is important to note you currently can’t opt out once you get an IP PIN. You must use the IP PIN to confirm your identity on all federal tax returns moving forward.

 

Be wary of IRS scams

This time of year IRS scams are rampant.  Sometimes they come in the form of a phone call, while others arrive via email.  Beware such engagements which state you owe money to the IRS and demand immediate payment.  The IRS only sends mail, not calls or email.  IRS will never: 1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill; 2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe; 3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; 4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or 5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.  If you receive these IRS imposter scams, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or at 800-366-4484.

 

 

Be prepared and informed

Tax season is upon us and the criminals are busy with fraud and scams.  Be aware and move to protect your tax return.  Early efforts can save you from a long year of frustration.

 

More information about tax identity theft is available from the FTC and the IRS at:

 

 

 

Interested in more?  Follow me on Twitter (@Matt_Rosenquist) and LinkedIn to hear insights and what is going on in cybersecurity.  To see a full listing of blogs, videos, presentations and other thoughts, go to the collection of My Previous Posts

I hope you’re excited as me and looking forward seeing first 3D XPoint™ based products in the market. Intel® Optane® SSDs have been already publically demonstrated at IDF’15 and Oracle Open World 2015. Not every performance detail is disclosed, keep in mind these were prototypes, but some key benchmarks (especially small random I/O at low queue depth) were shown. This brings the SSD close to memory than ever. But how close? Can we actually use it as an extension to a system memory? Short answer – yes, we can. There are different ways to do so, starting from a simple swapping/paging, application changes to use nmap()/dinmap()/SSDAlloc(), and some very special products like ScaleMP technologies discussed below. 

 

You may have heard of ScaleMP from their fame of SMP virtualization technology, which allows one to turn a cluster of x86 systems into a single system (SMP), where ScaleMP’s software, vSMP Foundation, runs below the OS layer and handles all the cache coherency and remote IO over the cluster fabric transparently to the OS.  That allows the OS and applications to utilize the entire cluster resources (compute, memory and IO) for a single application.

Well, ScaleMP has introduced new extensions - just like they enable the one called “Memory over Fabric” and use algorithms to optimize access patterns and yield magnificent performance, they also enable you to use NVM as if it was DRAM. As simple and transparent as it sounds! vSMP requires having NVMe based SSDs and supports only Intel® SSD Data Center Family for PCIe.

AK-blog.png

 

For the examples below, consider a dual-socket system in early 2016. Using commodity DRAM you could reach 768 GB of DRAM (24 x 32 DDR4 DIMMs). The memory subsystem alone would cost ~ $6,000 (32GB DIMMs retail online for about $250 these days).  With the ScaleMP we are targeting two key use-cases for Storage Class Memory (SCM) being used as main system memory:

 

1. Replacing most of the DRAM – using ScaleMP’s technology, you could reduce DRAM to 128GB, using 4 x 32GB DDR4 DIMMs only, and use 2 x Intel® SSD DC P3700 of 400GB each. The benefits?

 

a. CAPEX saving as the hybrid memory (DRAM+NVM) cost is lower by at least 33%.

b. An OPEX saving of 96 Watts (and similar savings in cooling)

(20 x 6W per DIMM vs. 2 x 12W per 400GB NVMe)

c. Performance in the 75% ~ 80% of DRAM performance range for demanding workloads such as multi-tenant DBMS running TPC-C.

 

2. Expanding on-top of DRAM – using ScaleMP’s technology, you could easily increase total system memory of the dual-socket server to ~ 8 TB

 

a. For reaching 8TB RAM using only DRAM, one would need to have the highest-end servers that could support 192 DIMMs and populate it with 128 DIMMs of 32GB, and 64 DIMMs of 64GB.  Such servers are power-hungry and require lots of space in the rack.

The alternative, using the dual-socket system described above, would require simply adding 4 NVMe devices of 2TB each – saving over 50% of the memory cost and rack space.

b. On the OPEX side, the difference is dazzling.  A high-end system would require 1,152W just for its 192 DIMMs, and the alternative would require ~ 75% less power.  I’ll skip describing the additional advantage of improved server density and datacenter standardization.

c. This setup allows the user to run 10x the number of memory demanding workloads on a single server, with the overall throughput being marginally affected.

d. This allows the user to run massive in-memory DBMS in the most economical manner.

 

By this point, I am sure you are wondering: “the $$$ savings look great, but what about performance?”.  Well, performance test results using Intel® SSD DC P3700 are fresh from the oven.  First, some details of the benchmark and configurations used:


The selected benchmark was an OLTP load. 5 instances of the MySQL DBMS (Percona distribution) concurrently running TPC-C benchmark, each instance using 25 warehouses with 128 connections – totaling 330GB of memory (all data loaded to main memory) + 160GB of buffer cache.

• Warmup - TPCC runs for a period of 6,000 seconds.

• Measurement - TPCC runs for a period of 7,200 seconds.

 

The hardware used was a dual-socket E5-v3 system, with one of two configurations:

• DRAM-only: 512 GB RAM (DDR4) – baseline server configuration (no ScaleMP software used for this setup)

• Hybrid DRAM-NVM: using same server, but keeping only 64GB RAM (DDR4), and adding 2 x Intel DC P3700 NVMe SSDs to provide the missing 448GB to the system memory.  ScaleMP’s software was used to make the system look the same as the above to the OS.

 

When running the Linux command ‘free’, the result was same on both configurations (see below).  Clearly the ScaleMP software did the job by hiding from the OS the fact that it is using hybrid DRAM-NVM memory subsystem.

[root@s2600wt-0 ~]# free –gh

              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available

Mem:           503G        3.4G        316G        9.6M        184G        499G

 

 

Now, for the benchmark results.  We summed the result of the 5 instances of TPC-C, which are measured in tpmC:

• For the “DRAM-only” configuration we got 217,757

• For the hybrid DRAM-NVM we got: 166,782

 

In other words, Intel® SSD DC P3700 used as memory replacement reached 75%~80% of DRAM performance!  (76.6% to be precise).  Keep in mind that number may vary from one application to another, but consider TPC-C representative as basic datacenter workload. It’s good reference point.

The pricing and performance info above is valid for early 2016, and based on only Intel® SSD Data Center Family for PCIe. Think about upcoming Intel® Optane® SSDs, based on 3D XPoint™ technology, will likely enable Intel and ScaleMP to push the performance further closer to DRAM performance.

 

If Intel and ScaleMP deliver on the promise of improved performance with Optane SSDs, they will arguably eliminate the border between Main Memory and Storage Class Memory (SCM).  It will allow SCM to be used for OS and application memory transparently, without any code changes.  While the Intel Optane SSDs will reduce the latency to storage, ScaleMP software already makes it byte addressable from application perspective and uses smart caching technology to reduce the average latency to values that are very close to overall DRAM performance. TCO stories look great even considering licensing for vSMP software which is not covered here at all and I should direct you to the ScaleMP’s web site for the details.

If your application is limited by the amount of DRAM in a box, now we can easily say that the sky is the limit for that application!

 

 

Andrey Kudryavtsev, Intel Corp.

Benzi Galili, ScaleMP.com

               

The expanding circle of distrust fueled by the Internet of Things (IoT)

 

I whip out my device to make a payment at the checkout counter of our local hardware store. And I pause. Should I let the point-of-sale system extract all my data? Can I trust this device? Do I have any control over who gets access to the data captured? We may get what we pay for -- but, adversaries can get what we pay with! We don’t usually encounter adversaries face-to-face and our primary interface remains these point-of-sale systems, web clicks and other devices that are part of the Internet of Things. Thanks to recent hacks with the customer's data at various retail chains, I am beginning to develop a sense of distrust in these very "things" and devices. Complementing the Circle of Trust I have developed over the years with close family and friends, IoT is injecting itself into a rapidly expanding Circle of Distrust.

IoT Trust.jpg

 

And I pay with cash instead -- because You may get what you pay for but They can get what you pay with!

 

Daniel Miessler introduces the concepts of “personal daemons” and “universal daemonization” in this article on Future of the Internet and the Internet of ThingsThe word “daemon” in concept, takes me back many years when I used to foray into the guts of the UNIX kernel where daemons represented programs that run continuously as a background process – e.g. a printing daemon. Interestingly enough, the word “daemon” semantically means a spirit, a supernatural being, a demi-god.

 

Miessler does refer to the IoT having its own daemons that perpetually interact with each other.

 

However, bugs like Shellshock have the ability to take over control of the command script that can transform computing “daemons” into mythological “demons”. Happy Halloween! The fact that such bugs can continue to penetrate the landscape of devices only accentuates my circle of distrust.

 

And then, checkout devices that look and act like – of all creatures – like a snake! The last thing that comes to mind when I think of a serpentine creature is trust!

 

I finish my purchases and come home. My neighbor’s dog (Poodle you say?) comes running up to me furiously wagging its fluffy tail. Now, here is a being that I trust -- a lifelong member of my Circle of Trust. But, do I trust the device around its neck that sends out signals to control the dog’s movements? I am not so sure. Yet another member of the Circle of Distrust.

 

How about you? How do you contrast your level of trust in humans versus machines? What is growing faster – your Circle of Trust or your Circle of Distrust?

 

I trust you will let me know. Or can I?

 

Twitter: @NadhanEG

Cyber HR Challenges.jpgThe cybersecurity industry is in a state of disrepair. Human resource problems are growing which put the efforts to secure technology at risk, due to insufficient staffing, skills, and diversity. 

 

The need for talent is skyrocketing, but there aren’t enough qualified workers to meet the current or future demands.  By 2017 prospective hiring organizations may have upwards of 2 million unfilled security related positions.  With supply low and demand high, prices rise quickly. Security roles benefit on average from a $12,000 pay premium over other computer related jobs.  Job growth in the digital security field outpaced IT positions by double and twelve times the rate of the overall job market. As a consequence, hiring companies are becoming very creative in their attempts to attract talent.  Industry headhunting practices are more aggressive and prolific to meet the demand.  Companies must not only deal with the challenges of hiring, they must also maneuver carefully to retain the professionals they currently have.

 

To add to the problem is a lack of diversity.  The industry needs greater inclusion of more diverse people who infuse new ideas, innovation, and practices.  Without an expanding range of perspectives, the industry remains encumbered by traditional thinking.  It becomes limited by the boundaries imposed from homogenous experiences, while the threats evolve and blossom in both size and depth of imagination. 

 

Lastly, graduates lack consistency and applicability of skills.  Cybersecurity is a rapidly changing field, requiring student’s growth and knowledge to keep pace with relevant methods, technology, and practices.  The education system is facing tremendous challenges to reliably prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals to be able to protect the digital world we want to live in.

 

To correct the problem, the industry needs to attract a broader pool of students, including women and underrepresented minorities, to sufficiently meet demand and infuse varied perspectives into the workforce.  Academia must align education practices to deliver higher levels of consistency and timeliness of skills in high demand for a rapidly evolving employment landscape.  Only then will we achieve a sustainable position to create the future generations of cybersecurity professionals necessary to protect technology.

 

 

I recently spoke at the ICT Educator Conference and highlighted the workforce challenges, the need for more diversity, and how Intel is working to improve the academic pipeline.  One of the highlights I discussed was Intel’s $300 million investment in diversity.  It is a great example of how a corporation can make a difference in the hiring, progression, and retention of a diverse workforce, contribute to building a sustainable flow of talent, and directly support other organizations doing the same.  Finally, I discussed how academia is shifting to build a formal degree program for cyber-science related fields.  This will ease the frustrations of hiring organizations by improving the consistency of skills supported by applicants’ degrees.

 

There is much work to be done, but efforts to fix the workforce and talent issues are necessary for the benefit of everyone.  Teamwork between educators, government, and the business community is the only way we will overcome the human resource challenges impeding cybersecurity.

 

 

Interested in more?  Follow me on Twitter (@Matt_Rosenquist) and LinkedIn to hear insights and what is going on in cybersecurity.

team-meeting-analytics-design.jpgIt goes without saying that when we design anything, we must know and understand our audience well. But I often find that in mobile analytics projects, this is where the first oversight happens—not because we lack the knowledge, but because we make the wrong assumptions.


With the design of mobile analytics solutions, we promote the idea that we need to go beyond just knowing our audience by creating every opportunity for greater user interaction right from the onset of our engagements.

 

Start with the executive sponsor in your mobile audience

 

The executive sponsor is the most important member of your audience. He or she not only provides the necessary leadership, but also the required support for commitment and critical resources for the project to succeed. In the absence of this guidance, your audience will be disoriented and their participation will be fragmented.

 

Validate who your audience is for mobile

 

The users who were identified initially for the engagement may not necessarily be the best candidates for a mobile analytics project. In general, it‘s assumed that anyone can be a mobile user at the flip of a switch. Although this is true, the learning curve can be vastly different depending on their background and how mobile savvy they may be.

 

The question is not whether individuals can become a mobile user, but whether they can quickly become a mobile advocate to drive the project to success—especially if they play a key role on the project team. Therefore, it’s critical to gauge your users’ overall mobile readiness and “willingness.”

 

In many cases, their “mobile attitude” (which is how they perceive the mobile device, the mobile project, and its value to the business value chain), is more critical than their technical knowhow—or lack thereof.

 

Understand how your audience uses mobile

 

In addition to understanding who your audience is, you need to understand what they do today with their mobile devices and what they will be doing tomorrow after you go live. The fact that potential users utilize smartphones in their personal lives doesn’t guarantee a successful adoption of the mobile analytics solution.

 

When you first meet them, observe closely how they use their device. Do they remember the password to unlock their screen or app? Is the mobile device configured properly and is it able to connect to the approved networks? Are the apps up-to-date? Many of these simple signs provide invaluable feedback to assist you in developing the right documentation and communication, as well as creating the right support infrastructure.

 

Get closer to your mobile audience

 

You need to get closer to current or potential customers (mobile users) by involving them actively in the process from day one. You need to be in the trenches with them, observing closely their mobile interactions so you can validate your assumptions about the use cases and effectively identify gaps where they may exist.

 

You can’t do this from behind a desk. You need to be right on the shop floor working side-by-side with the real customer in the same environment and under the same conditions. Getting closer to your mobile audience means that you make every effort to look at the mobile journey from their perspective, which starts with the setup and installation of the mobile device.

 

Have your audience demonstrate its mobile passion

 

In many instances, it helps a great deal to have your users play an active role beyond requirements gathering and testing. For example, have them present at meetings and lead the mobile discussions with them driving at the helm.

 

There’s nothing like a newly-recruited mobile user leading an audience of soon-to-be mobile troops. They must touch and play with the first prototype as much as they would during the testing phase. Continuous feedback should be the lifeblood of any development effort.

 

Bottom line: Your audience is key

 

Understanding your audience at all levels–not just who they are–is critical to mobile analytics design because it sets the right expectation and assumptions for your users and your technical teams, who will develop the solution. When you increase your user interactions at all levels, you set your mobile analytics project up for success.

 

Stay tuned for my next blog in the Mobile Analytics Design series.

 

You may also like the Mobile BI Strategy series on IT Peer Network.

 

Connect with me on Twitter @KaanTurnali, LinkedIn and here on the IT Peer Network.

 

A version of this post was originally published on turnali.com and also appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog.

Cash3.jpgExecutives are beginning to understand that cyber-based threats are a potentially significant impediment to business success. The challenges extend far beyond the annoyance of rising security budgets.  The recent PwC survey showed 61% of CEO’s believe cyber threats pose a danger to corporate growth.  If extrapolated across the business landscape, it will have sweeping ramifications to the future global economy.  The overall impact is in the trillions of dollars based upon the World Economic Forum and the Atlantic Council reports. 

 

We have been talking about this for years, but it is time to better understand the long-term systemic outlook of cybersecurity instead of just looking at the firefight-of-the-day tactical symptoms.  As the C-suite becomes more security savvy, the number of executives expressing concern will climb.  The problem of escalating cybersecurity expenses will continue to worsen. 

 

Security costs include more than just products, services, and headcount.  Incident costs, loss of reputation and customer goodwill add to the problem.  Compliance, auditability, insurance, and litigation must also be accounted for. 

 

One area which may represent the biggest overall impact has remained largely absent from discussions; the cost of creating secure products.  For suppliers, manufacturers, service providers, and product owners, the world is changing as products and services, which connect or control aspects of people’s lives, must now be built and operated with security and safety in mind.  Expenditures include shifts to support secure architecture, design, testing, manufacturing, compliance, and operational sustainability across the product lifespan.  These additional charges raise the costs to do business, delay product releases, inhibit innovation, and most importantly siphons assets from profit oriented activities. 

 

Say for example, a company must increase production costs by 20% to meet security needs.  Where will that money come from?  Taking it from marketing will reduce sales.  Lowering the IT budget will put at risk operations and may shelve projects to support the enablement of the organizations profit centers.  Cutting on product development can undermine competitiveness and lower customer satisfaction.  Reducing manufacturing budgets can delay delivery times and impact quality.  Few organizations have extra money sitting about.  Operating budgets are finite and having an additional set of expenditures, not generating new revenue, puts a strain on plans for success. 

 

The diversion of assets can limit the ability to seize market opportunities.  These “opportunity costs” can compound over time.  First to market, is a coveted position.  Losing that race to a competitor, because more security testing was required, can be devastating with long term consequences.  How difficult would it be to regain an advantageous position?  The tradeoffs apply to human resources as well.  What if the plan to hire 20 new marketing and sales staff were cut in half as the organization needed to hire security engineers and software developers to validate products instead?  How many deals would not close or new customers be serviced by competitors because of the lack of field representatives?  That money could have been reinvested for future gains and expansion.  How about the IT project to improve customer services or support a new product launch, which has to be pushed out a year because budget is being reallocated to meet cybersecurity regulatory compliance or pay for breach insurance.  The result of all these actions is the siphoning of competitive momentum which gives an advantage for competitiveness.  Opportunity costs are the sleeping giant which is rarely accounted for in the world of security.  

 

For just about every company, cybersecurity issues can upset the balance and strategic plans for business success.  Security costs can be unexpected and a severe impediment to growth, operations, customer satisfaction, and sales goals.  Executives are beginning to piece together the pieces of the cybersecurity picture.  Costs, risks of loss, impacts to products, timing into the market, missed opportunities, regulatory sanctions, satisfaction of customers, and goodwill of partners hang in the balance.  Cybersecurity is rapidly earning a place on the list of dangers to corporate growth.

 

 

Interested in more?  Follow me on Twitter (@Matt_Rosenquist) and LinkedIn to hear insights and what is going on in cybersecurity.

Last week we wrapped up the 2016 National Retail Federation Conf.  The Intel booth was packed through the final minutes of the show. It was a great oportunity to share with so many the solutions based on Intel. Many retailers often ask why is Intel here – don’t you sell processors for PCs?  I love the opportunity to share with others just how diverse Intel is and our ability to influence markets, industries and ecosystems.  Below are the two blogs i wrote while at NRF...


First Day NRF Highlights from Intel Retail

 

The National Retail Federation Conf. (NRF) is about collaboration, innovation and differentiation – where technology solutions meet retailer business challenges.  The Intel booth showcased solutions available today, those for tomorrow and those for 2-3 years down the road. 


Here is my quick rundown on a few solutions being featured in the Intel booth at NRF.  For more detailed review check this out.

 

levis.JPGIntel has been working Levis to enable a near real-time inventory tracking monitoring solution.  This solution relies on cost effective gateways and RFID labels.  Sato America has partnered with Intel and Levis on this project and can deliver the solution to other apparel retailers.  The solution enables more than just inventory management. It can also deliver edge analytics to the store manager, showing which items are most often moved to the dressing room, which get purchased and which get returned to the shelf.  Thus it can improve upon on assortment, identifying those items that sell well and those that don’t.  It can also spot trends which can in turn improve upon in-store displays. 

 

T ink.JPGOut-stocks represent a huge opportunity for retailers and suppliers. By one account, I have heard out-stocks for chips and snacks can be more than $1B in lost revenue per year.  That is serious money and it is for just one supplier. This gets compounded when you consider time spent on merchandising compliance, items stocked in the wrong section or shrinkage.  T-Ink has figured out a way to solve this problem through an innovative process of smart ink printing process.  In short the solution can be used on consumer packaging, shelf pegs and shelf liners. t ink 2.JPGUltimately delivering improved inventory management solutions throughout the store. 

 

Future Food District COOP from Milan Italy featuring the connected supermarket.  This was an excellent collaboration between Accenture, Microsoft, Avanade, Carlo Ratti Association and Intel.  The demo showcases possibilities of how to better engage customers as they shop in an open-air market with the assistance of digital solutions.  The objective is to engage the shopper, to provide information on products they are selecting or on those that might pair well for entire meal as well as offer up recipes.    The benefit to a retailer is; customer loyalty, cross-selling & product recommendations to name a few.  And while this concept was featured for a grocery store focused implementation it is not hard to see how this could be applied to apparel, home ware or hardware or numerous other retail environments. 

 

This being my last dispatch from NRF, I wanted to highlight the solutions which may help you better understand Intel  beyond just providing chips. 


We all understand the shopper journey has forever changed, due to the everyday use of a smartphone. This results an increased pressure for the retailer to deliver a unified cross-channel shopping experience. The consumer decision journey is a constant bounce back and forth between digital-virtual sources of information and the brick and mortar stores.  It is the retailer who comprehends this opportunity that can differentiate from competitors. 

 

Retailers who are able to analyze customer, online and store data are better prepared to offer a unique shopping experience.  One that can truly bridge the shoppers’ journey from sofa-to-store front.  Through the use of analytics, retailers are better able to predict the next logical product the consumer will purchase.  This recommendation capabilities is common for online shopping experience.   However, not as common on the store floor.  Well Intel has worked with Cloudera and Big Cloud Analytics to help retailers to accomplish a more thorough understanding of their customers.

 

Another major theme from the Intel booth was offering a more engaged shopper experience.  Both Brooks Brothers and Nordstroms know their customers have high expectations of their shopping experience.  As a result, both of these retailers are constantly looking for ways to simplify the shopping experience while at the same time making it more engaging.  For Brooks Brothers their customers want the right fit on a custom-tailored suit.  This process can be extremely time intensive in order to assure the measurements are done correctly.   The same can be said for shoe measurement.  The process by which customers get their foot measured hasn’t changed in nearly 100 yrs.  During the Half-Yearly sale this can lead to lost sale opportunities and chaos on the store floor.  Through the use of a 3-D digital foot measurement process, the customer’s foot is measured in seconds.  In return the sales associate is better informed about which shoes will be a better fit for the customer. 

 

In all of these cases Intel provides the technology, engagement with solution provider and the ability to demonstrate for the retailer how it solves particular business challenges.   Intel has a thorough understanding and commitment to the Retail, Hospitality and Consumer Goods Industry.  We have a dedicated focus on helping retailers to; increase traffic, drive conversion, increase basket size and drive customer loyalty.

We would be happy to have a discussion with you and figure out how Intel can help address your business challenges. 

 

 

 

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Comdex 2016 set a new style of a digital world record in the annals of the Guinness Book for Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously.  Through this spectacular show, Intel showcased 100 drones dazzling the sky with a fantastic light and sound effect. A key reason why this was recognized and acknowledged to be a world record by Guinness is because it was an all-drone show. Every one of the 100 objects in the sky was a drone -- an unmanned aerial vehicle  -- or, in my books, a citizen of the IoT. However, as I watch the show multiple times, I begin to wonder if there are some sublime messages being sent to enterprises today by these drones -- a la Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.  While the individual drones have their place in the Internet of Things, what appeals to the human eye and ear is the synchronization of the audio and visual effects against a backdrop of technology at its best.  It is almost as if these drones are on a mission to align technology with business while maximizing the value of the information about their geo-spatial location.  Should sound like music to the ears of the competitive enterprises of tomorrow.


Three key messages jump out as I closely observe the show in its entirety:  Data Matters, Information Matters and Business MattersLet me explain.

 

1. Data Matters.  Each of these drones is a “thing” in its own right within the Internet of Things carrying data about itself as well as its location and motion vectors.  Message: No matter what the source is -- application, system, software, hardware, storage, devices, humans -- the data that is resident and captured on that entity matters.  It is the fundamental unit of IT that enterprises have to work with -- and has been so ever since the dawn of IT.

 

2. Information Matters.  However data by itself goes only so far.  Take one of these drones out of this show and work with 99 instead.  Suddenly the lone drone will not be perceived adding as much value as the remaining 99 put together.  It is the unique formations that actually transform the individual data islands into a cohesive visual story that leaves the 5-year old in the crowd gaping open-mouthed and awestruck!  Message: Connecting these “things” with context is absolutely vital to generate the information that matters to the enterprise.  As Gartner VP, Massimo Pezzini indicates, shake up your integration strategy to enable digital transformation.

 

3. Business Matters.  However, the third and final message that brings it home for me is the synchronization between the classical audio music in the background with the dynamic visual technology in the foreground.  The Informational story presented must align with the business of music -- lock and step.  Every technological act perceived by the eye is immediately resonating in the human ear with the music.  What makes this even more symbolic is the fact that the genre of music itself is not new by any means.  It is the time-tested classical music that continues to earn the respect of the connoisseurs with a refined taste for the arts.  The same music would have drawn the appreciation of the crowds centuries back.  Message: The business of the enterprise has not really changed.  The enabling technology has.  However, the enabling technology -- however “cool” it is --  adds value only if it is aligned with the business .


 


Music to my ears.

 

Those are the key messages that jump out at me when I watch this ground-breaking technological show by Intel.  The real question is whether enterprises of today are taking these messages to heart and challenging themselves with the following questions:

 

  1. What are the key data sources across the ecosystem of the enterprise?
  2. How is information gleaned out of these data sources with context?
  3. Do the technological initiatives align lock and step with the business objectives?

 

Competitive enterprises of tomorrow will have the answers to these questions today. 

 

Take that from one enterprise that is competitive today -- as demonstrated by its cutting-edge drone technology.

DC tunnel.jpg

One constant in cybersecurity is the continual rise of sophistication and creativity of attackers.  In 2016, we will see a fundamental expansion of the techniques of attackers.  Integrity attacks will rise.

 

The industry has become comfortable with traditional Availability and Confidentiality attacks, which are typically crude but effective.

 

Denial of Service attacks for example, undermine availability of websites, services, and resources.  Flooding networks, deleting files, and redirecting traffic are some of the brute tactics.  Such maneuvers have been around for a long time and are well understood.  Security tools and services can control such risks.

 

Recent Data Breaches are a great example of confidentiality attacks, which have exposed the personal and business data of millions.  Attackers tend to break in, grab all they data they can, and run.  Not especially elegant, but it works. The security industry is rapidly gaining traction with tools and practices to prevent such compromises.

 

Integrity.jpgIntegrity attacks are something new.  They are more sophisticated, well planned, and executed.  It is about discretely modifying specific data or transactions and can be much more devastating.

 

The scale of impact is vastly different.  It is not about selling credit card data or compromising ATM’s for a few thousand dollars.  Instead, it can create huge windfalls for organized criminals and advanced threats.

 

Last year Carbanak, a malicious banking campaign was detected, which selectively modified a relatively small number of very specific transactions.  This one organized-group stole 300 million to a billion dollars in total from over 100 banks, by altering just a few transactions.  Successes like that reinforce continued activities and further investment by the attackers.

 

Modifying trusted communications is also on the rise.  Even something as simple as taking control of a company’s email system can allow an attacker to conduct fraudulent transactions.  Several incidents are emerging where Accounts Payable departments have received ‘urgent’ emails from executives to immediately send checks to overseas vendors.  Completely fraudulent.  The attackers were able to have an interactive discussion in email, successfully impersonating executives, to compel funds being transferred.

 

Ransomware, another example of compromising the integrity of just a few files which remain on a victim’s system, is also growing rapidly.  It will be one of the scourges of 2016.  Cryptowall, a popular ransomware package, fleeced over 320 million dollars last year from unfortunate victims who paid the extortion.  Consumers, businesses, and even government agencies paid to have their access restored.  The scale of ransomware has never been so great and it continues to grow, fueled by its own success.  The criminals are benefitting from distinct advantages and will greedily continue for as long as they can.

 

When will the Integrity problems be tamed?  Not for some time.  They are just beginning to pick up.  Integrity attacks are difficult to protect, detect, and recover from.  The security industry has not yet adjusted to emerging challenges and attackers are taking advantage of the opportunity.

 

In 2016, sophisticated threats will pursue Integrity attacks which will be a challenging shift in the industry that everyone will have be concerned with and overcome.

 

 

Want to know more?

MICHAEL TAYLOR

NRF 2016 - Store Tours

Posted by MICHAEL TAYLOR Jan 22, 2016

As a part of the NRF Conference Intel coordinates a series of Store Tour through some of the most innovative and imaginative retailers in NYC.  It is always a great to witness first hand engagement and store floor experiences collide.  When this is done well, the technology becomes transparent to the engagement.  This year we stopped in and visited with Lululemon, Flying Tiger, the Nike Running Store, Club Monaco and Lowes.  We know the shopper is spending more time online researching before they enter the physical store.  Even while this trend continues to grow, the physical store is still the primary place for transaction – more than 90% of consumers purchase in store. 

   

lululemon.JPGThe showcase of stores throughout the tour deliver unique and compelling approach to shopper engagement. Lululemon Athletica is all about connecting and engaging with its customers.  Lululemon is a designer and retailer of technical athletic apparel (apparently for the last few years offering men’s clothing and workout gear as well). Their focus has always been on healthy lifestyles – and now have now extended the concept by utilizing nearly half of the space to non-selling activities and engagements.  Certainly this space was inviting, equipped with WiFi and power outlets to encourage customers to stay longer.  Additionally, workout studios and an online community round out the customer engagement strategy.  Through online community, Lululemon encourages its loyal customers with workout routines, upcoming events, or recommendations to favorite neighborhood locations. Cities the size of NYC can be intimidating to newcomers and Lululemon is providing a community level connection for its customers. 

 

Next up was Flying Tiger – a Danish based retailer who sells quirky products with Scandinavian design aesthetic at affordable prices.  Think of it as value shopping (most items are priced <$5) targeting a premium customer. Very little use of technology in the store and no online presence.  The store is laid out in a maze, guiding customers through every department on their way to the till.  It has a minimalistic and Danish style.  Store inventory rotates ~10-12x/year and individual category inventory turnover can be much higher.  Focus is on a fun experience and word-of-mouth drives new and repeat customers. Hard to walk out without making a small purchase.

 

The Nike Running Store in Manhattan is the Global Flagship store for Nike Running.  The store and the associates are all well versed in telling the Nike story. Looking around you will notice the walls are covered in the original waffle print design of Nike’s first running shoe and tributes throughout are paid to Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregon track coach who co-designed with Phil Knight a better running shoe based on the famous waffle pattern.  With that said, many of us would assume the experience to be similar any other running store - shoes on a wall, shorts and shirts on nike.JPGhangers. However, the Nike Running Store is focused transforming the customer engagement model.  Through the use of the Nike + app, sales associates are better equipped to share information about Nike running shoes, perform a gait analysis and offer recommendations to better meet the customers’ running needs.  Nike + app will be leading the way for continued customer engagement.  It frees Nike up from focusing on hardware and in return enables Nike to work with the industry’s best hardware suppliers like Garmin and TomTom. 

 

 

 

Club Monaco is a lifestyle retailer focused on classic, elegant clothes, food, books, flowers, vintage and home products – clearly repositioning the brand and experience as the definitive choice for the creative class.  By extending the engagement beyond just beautiful clothes, the retailer is able to extend the customer engagement.  In a relaxing and inviting environment, consumers spent significant time enjoying themselves in the store.  One interesting aspect was the book shop “The Strand” featured prominently as part of the overall store environment.  club monaco.JPGWhen inquiring about book sales, I was told that all of the books which were a part of Club Monaco were new (vs. ~ 40% of the books at the Flagship Strand location were new) and the best sellers were large format books, meant for coffee table or display.  Of course those books also tend be given as gifts.  As a result, you could envision customers coming to this location not only for themselves but also to shop for gifts.

 

Lastly, we wrapped up the tour by visiting a Lowes.  I know what you are thinking.  Really? You are in NYC and have all of those fabulous retailers to visit and you stopped at Lowes?  Yes!  Let me tell you why – endless aisles.  It is no surprise retailers are embracing smaller store footprints.  In order to provide customers with a broad selection in smaller footprint stores, retailers have turned to a virtual product catalog.  In order to make this engaging, Lowes has opted for full size screens to better showcase refrigerators or other large scale appliances.  By doing so Lowes can stock inventory on the store floor that best serve the majority of their customers.  While, at the same time serving customers who have unique or custom requirements, for instance a commercial grade refrigerator, or maybe smaller space requirement to fit a studio apartment in the city. 

 

I hope you enjoyed this summary of 2016 Store Tour. My desire is to share with you a spectrum of engaging styles retailers are deploying to differentiate from their competition. Intel is ready to have a conversation with you about customer engagement. Let us know how we can help. 

 

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Interested in what my colleagues are saying about the Retail, Hospitality and Consumer Goods Segment?  Find out more in the Intel communities

 

How do you create new value? Is it possible to push your physical products through what I call “the digital wormhole” to create virtual components of value for your products? A look at the evolution of the way people enjoy music suggests that the answer is ‘yes’. Twenty-five years ago, people listened to records on turntables, a very analog and physical process. Then, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, they moved to CDs and CD players—a digital process, but still mostly a physical reality. Now, people listen to online audio with services such as Spotify* that give them access to millions of tracks, allow browsing, social network interaction and offer recommendations based on listening habits. Much of the value that these services provide is created in the digital domain—it’s a virtual value. When creating new products, designers should ask themselves up front: how much of this product’s value will be physical, and how much will be digital?


For example, an invisible, conductive ink called T+Ink* that can be read with a capacitive touchscreen, is making it possible to think about linking products to digital content by simply touching the products to a screen. Over time, you could add digital value to physical products just by linking them through that interface.

 

As discussed in my previous blog, making things smart has the potential to add lots of value. The question is—how do you do it? Today, designing and building smart objects is still harder than it needs to be, but it’s going to get exponentially easier and become more and more attractive to designers as computing continues to shrink and drop in price, and as design tools become more sophisticated. One of the ways this will happen is with easy-to-use building blocks such as the Intel® Edison compute module, a computer on a tiny board that has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and connects to the cloud. Or the button-sized Intel Curie platform1 that makes it easy to add smart wearable capability to garments and other items. These types of platforms enable product designers to start incorporating ‘smart’ tech into their products without having to staff up with a small army of hardware and software engineers.

 

Smart Technology: Retail Applications

 

What other types of retail applications might benefit from the use of smart technology? Think about smart infrastructure—store shelves that understand not only what product is being set upon them, but also who is standing in front of them; shelves that  help retailers understand more about shopper behavior, that offer more information to shoppers and that even start to broker the conversation between product manufacturers and shoppers. This type of information exchange will be a boon to manufacturers and retailers, as will the ability to do dynamic pricing at the shelf.

Putting smart technology into the physical space of retail has the potential to make an enormous difference. But even more dramatic are the changes likely to result as, in the next five to eight years, computers are able to see, hear and understand more of the world around them. This trend toward closing the gap between the digital and physical worlds has been occurring for twenty-five years or more, but now it’s beginning to yield some very interesting possibilities for retail.

 

Visual recognition technology will free robots to coexist safely among us—a trend that’s already started. No longer trapped in cages because of their inability to see (which makes them hazardous to human safety), customer service and inventory robots are at work in trials at California retail stores.

 

Drone technology, for use in warehouses and in making deliveries, is attracting interest from a number of companies with a desire to smooth operations and deliver products not just the same day, but the next hour.

 

Digital value will also be created in retail via augmented and mixed reality that overlays a digital layer on the physical world. Shoppers will be able to more easily imagine, for example, how a new kitchen will look in their homes or how clothing will look on them using such technology.

 

Technology is advancing in ways that offer enormous opportunities for solving business problems in retail. For further discussion on how it’s being deployed to optimize for specific outcomes, check back in this space in the weeks to come.

 

Steve Brown

Senior Industry Advisor, Retail and Hospitality

Intel Corporation

 

1 This device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.

 

Curie, Intel and the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

* Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

© 2016 Intel Corporation

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