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Apple iOS 8 and Cisco Meraki CMX

Learn how upcoming changes in iOS 8 affect CMX.

Apple’s iOS 8 changes the way MAC addresses are exposed in WiFi probe requests, providing an additional layer of privacy for consumers. This post described the impact of those changes to the Cisco Meraki Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution.

CMX and Privacy

CMX analytics helps organizations understand aggregate location data in business analysis and provides customers with high performing WiFi, allowing for personalized experiences. The Cisco Meraki team has always been dedicated to privacy for customers and their end-users, and there are four aspects of privacy that are technologically part of the CMX solution:
Anonymous aggregate information: All analytics in the Meraki dashboard are based on aggregate, anonymized device and location data.
Permission-based: Users have to opt in to join a WiFi network or download an app.
MAC address hashing: a one-way hash function anonymizes MAC addresses of unassociated, probing WiFi devices before storage in the Meraki cloud
Opt Out: End-users can opt-out of location-based services and analytics

Randomization Effects on Analytics

For mobile devices associated to a WiFi network, the CMX value proposition is unchanged, and the CMX solution will continue to deliver:

  • CMX Connect providing seamless connectivity to WiFi
  • CMX Analytics showing aggregate trends
  • CMX Engage creating context-aware, personalized experiences

For unassociated devices, the value proposition of CMX analytics has always been focused on providing broad aggregate trends and customers insights as opposed to individual user location or absolute numbers. Even with MAC randomizing for iOS 8 devices, there is no broad impact on aggregate analysis based on trends and percentages when evaluated over a period of time (MoM, YoY, DoD). Based on our current understanding, a subset of aggregate analytics—particularly loyalty metrics and dwell times for unassociated devices—may be impacted. However, organizations will still be able to leverage CMX analytics to gain better customer insights and business decisions based on users who opt-in and join their Wi-Fi network.

You can read more about iOS 8 MAC randomization in this Ars Technica article.