Archive for September, 2022

Four Ways Technology Enables Retail Personalization

Retail worker swiping card at register

Despite record inflation and other economic pressures, consumers are heading back to stores ready to spend. According to Deloitte, online back-to-school shopping saw its numbers dip to 35% compared to 39% in 2021, with in-store shares increasing to 49% versus 43% in 2021. The approximately $661 spent per child this year—both online and in-store—is 8% higher than last year and 27% higher than 2019.

That return to in-person shopping is expected to carry over to the holiday season. Consumers and retailers alike are gearing up for the sales and the crowds, harkening back to the pre-pandemic days.

Personalization – the great differentiator

Personalization holds the key to delighting holiday shoppers with tailored experiences and enticing them to open their wallets. Research from Boston Consulting Group shows that personalization has the potential to increase transaction size by as much as 40%, a dramatic difference at a time when every penny counts. 

Retailers often use personalization with online offers, suggesting products or discounts that appear when a customer abandons their virtual shopping cart, for example. As in-store technology also continues to evolve, retailers can better understand their customers and mirror online experiences. 

In-store, retailers can leverage advances in Wi-Fi access points, smart cameras, and sensors to up-level brick-and-mortar experiences, simplifying store operations and making shopping more personal. From optimizing staffing levels to improving customer flow through the store, technology provides the assistance retailers need. And it can’t come at a better time, with more than one million retail jobs unfilled across the U.S.

Here are four effective ways innovative technology can help retailers personalize the in-store shopping experience.

1. Analyze customer behaviors

Using cameras within retail environments is nothing new—they’re basic tenets of loss prevention. But today’s smart cameras with on-device processing can provide deeper insights into customer behaviors to enable retailers to refine store layouts, adjust displays for optimal customer interactions, and predict—and reduce—wait times for checkout.

2. Gather demographic information

Smart cameras with advanced AI can help retailers gain valuable insights. Basic information like accurate customer counts can help ensure adequate staffing throughout the day. Retailers can also gather details to help shape customer experiences. Insights, such as learning that a certain subset of customers frequents the store at the same time each day, allow retailers to further personalize the shopping experience with special displays or events.

3. Improve signage accuracy

With electronic shelf labels (ESL), retailers can quickly and easily send details about items to digital sign displays via Wi-Fi, reflecting the latest pricing and product information. ESLs include colorful, eye-catching images, backgrounds, and logos, and eliminate the need for spending valuable time updating analog labels.

4. Manage on-hand inventory

Combining sensors, smart cameras, and Wi-Fi  helps retailers optimize inventory to ensure they always have what customers want to buy in stock and nothing is languishing in the stockroom. For those slow moving items, stores can push special offers directly to the customer’s mobile device to help reduce on-hand inventory and related costs

As recent statistics show, in-store shopping is poised for a return to pre-pandemic levels. Welcome customers back to your store with personalized shopping experiences, made real with cutting-edge technology, just in time for the holiday season. 

Want to learn more about other trends leading the way in retail? Download our Top Tech Trends in Retail ebook. Learn more about Meraki smart cameras with the new MV series.

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How Smart Spaces Power Better Banking

Woman at ATM while using mobile phone

In a world where customers expect 24/7 access to their financial accounts and services, you can’t take chances with your network. A single second can make all the difference between a successful transaction or a lost opportunity.

To remain competitive, financial institutions need the connectivity, intelligence, and security required to support multiple ways to get transactions to their destinations in the fastest, most secure way possible. 

One solution is to build smart spaces to help the business run as efficiently as it can. A smart space combines IoT with action within a physical environment. This means leveraging cameras and sensors to collect actionable data that can help drive meaningful decision-making to ensure a safe and secure environment

Smart spaces deliver secure technology that is flexible enough to address customer needs on-demand while operating on a sustainable, cloud-enabled infrastructure. 

Smart banks are built on the cloud 

A cloud-based network and management platform provides the best foundation to build smart spaces.

Underpinned by Wi-Fi 6, the most advanced and robust network protocol, IoT devices can be managed from one location—eliminating the complexity of integrating networks, sensors, and analytics for your enterprise, whether you’re an insurer, bank, or other financial institution.

Additional benefits include:

  • Teams can work more cohesively by utilizing connected data 
  • Deeper insights and analytics 
  • Enhanced collaboration through dashboards 
  • Increase decision speed at bank branches and on multiple devices 
  • Increased response times to outages and other disruptions

These benefits help maintain connectivity and security in an environment where most transactions are conducted digitally. With your cloud-based platform in place, you’re ready to leverage the full power of smart spaces.  

Actionable intelligence for future branches 

Adopting the smart spaces foundation makes it possible to leverage intelligence gathered from connected devices, helping to meet customers’ rising expectations and streamline operations.

With AI and machine learning built in to connected IoT devices, every touchpoint on the network creates rich, useful data that powers new tools and capabilities. For example, smart tellers can guide customer interactions and services while regional hubs can better optimize branch distribution and resource allocation. 

Early adopters can compete by upleveling their service offerings, creating  experiences that are intelligent, personalized and omnichannel. This ensures a consistent customer-focused experience that blends banking capabilities with relevant products and services beyond banking. 

Transform experiences with safety and security built in

Smart spaces help organizations bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds. This ultimately allows financial services organizations to deliver impactful experiences that exceed both customer and employee expectations, while fulfilling  promises of safety and security. Some examples include: 

  • Smart sensors monitoring and adjusting environmental conditions for a safer and more comfortable experience for customers, while boosting management and operational efficiency
  • Smart cameras providing actionable monitoring of movement and capacity across locations for a more secure workspace

These capabilities have the potential to increase revenue, cut costs, make operations more consistent, and improve worker retention, all while meeting constantly changing customer needs and maintaining the security of the network. 

By leveraging IoT to continuously monitor, measure, and proactively take action, organizations can turn any ordinary location into a smart space. Capitalize on smart spaces technology and be prepared for what’s ahead. 

To learn more, visit the smart spaces section of the experiences page or the financial services industry page.

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Connecting the Community Through Smart Spaces

Women working in library

Governments can better serve their constituents through more connected communities. Achieving this requires them to embrace digital transformation to build smarter spaces. 

Smart spaces represent a combination of technologies that, when integrated in intentional ways, enable greater interactivity in the places where people gather. Built on a foundation of networks and connectivity, they leverage cellular or Wi-Fi devices, sensors, cameras, and other connected technologies to help leaders understand and improve conditions in a physical location. 

Here are five tips state and local governments can follow to build smart spaces in support of smarter communities.

1. Enable connectivity for everything!

Connecting devices within public and private areas like intersections, ports and terminals, libraries, and parks and recreation has become almost as important as connecting city hall. As the world becomes more digital and people begin to expect digital options for services formerly only offered in-person, government organizations should ensure they have both the wired and wireless technologies necessary to connect workers, constituents, and devices. 

2. Keep IoT devices top of mind

Temperature, humidity, water leakage, and door sensors provide rich and actionable environmental data to help governments create smarter spaces. This information can be used in multiple ways, whether it’s improving people’s experiences with the world around them, protecting important items, or helping technicians proactively identify problems or optimize energy heavy systems. Additionally, cameras can help to tighten security while also providing valuable insights on occupancy/space availability to improve experiences and help with future planning.

3. Empower data-driven insights

Agencies should be sure to pair data collection with technologies like AI/ML that can help to transform vast volumes of data into actionable insights. Automating for efficient and effective operations—such as improving critical infrastructure, traffic lights/traffic flow, and more—is now crucial for providing constituents with a positive experience.  

While these solutions sound great, a number of barriers are preventing agencies from putting them into practice, including siloed IT/OT networks, stretched resources, cybersecurity concerns, outdated systems, and more. Overcoming these challenges is by no means easy, but the following tips will help you on your journey to implement smart spaces. 

4. Build in security from the start

Securing government and citizen data is a priority for all government organizations nowadays. It follows that smart spaces technology in particular must include edge protection and cloud application security. To simplify this task, the Cisco Meraki platform brings together connectivity, hardware visibility, AI/ML, and an ecosystem of application partners to provide IT teams with the support they need to make better decisions. 

5. Manage through the cloud

Our experiences during the pandemic underlined the importance of preparing for the unexpected, and cloud-managed networks equip agencies with the tools they need to adapt. For example, the cloud allows for an automated hybrid workplace with networks that learn from billions of weekly touchpoints. This information can be applied to build and adapt smarter and more sustainable workspaces with always-on security updates.

Bringing smarter spaces to life

Smart spaces are a key component of building a connected community. Agencies that provide positive digital experiences for their constituents are ones that will ultimately thrive. For visitors to the Eagle Public Library (Colorado), one of the main highlights is the array of historic documents on display that connect individuals in the community to their history and ancestors. In addition to providing connectivity and IT simplification, Meraki smart spaces solutions, deployed by their partner Marmot Library Network, are able to monitor and protect these priceless records for generations to come.

Here at Meraki, we want to help provide these experiences through modern hardware, 360 degree security, SD-WAN connectivity, and our intuitive cloud platform. We’re here to simplify government IT and help agencies on their digital transformation journey. 

For a deeper dive into building connected communities, read our guide.

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Extending Visibility Into More Spaces

MV63 and MV93 smart cameras

Nothing is more frustrating than a blurry image from a security camera. Did you finally catch the elusive Sasquatch on video, or is that just Bill at the end of a very successful No-Shave November? In this case, we can probably assume it’s Bill and not Sasquatch, but versions of this scenario play out every day, reinforcing the need for clear, crisp, high definition video to be able to protect and secure what matters. 

To support this need, we are thrilled to announce the new MV63 fixed-lens mini dome and MV93 fisheye series Meraki MV smart cameras. Together these cameras address critical safety and security challenges by extending visibility to more outdoor areas, and providing more flexible deployment options to ensure you can get the right angle shot for the coverage you need.  

The next generation of MV smart cameras

These two new form factors not only expand the options in our outdoor portfolio, they also usher in our third generation of MV smart cameras—adding to innovations that have defined the product line for years. Here are a few to get excited about:

Added privacy features

To strengthen the privacy and security that is core to MV, this next generation of cameras include a microphone switch. While audio is key for certain use cases, it does present privacy concerns in others. The new hardware design requires that audio be turned on both on the camera itself and in the dashboard, reducing the risk of being turned on by accident, or maliciously. 

Universal mounts for greater visibility

To make it easy to extend visibility anywhere, the new generation will have universal mounts, supporting a range of accessories that meet various deployment requirements. From wall mounts to conduit back boxes, corner mounts, and more, the third generation streamlines the installation process and allows organizations to place cameras in the most optimal position to get the coverage they need.

More power, resolution, and speed

Just as the move from first generation cameras to the second generation brought increased resolution, more storage, and improved analytics, so does the third. With more powerful processors to support higher resolution sensors, faster processing, and more accurate analytics, organizations will have more opportunities to gain value from the intelligent video analytics. 

MV63 – Security in ultra high-definition

The MV63 series are outdoor-rated fixed-lens mini dome cameras. With up to 4K resolution, MV63 provides the high level of detail needed for monitoring entrances and exits, while wide field of view provides good overall context of the scene. The MV63 series will be available in two models: 

  • MV63 with 4MP resolution and 256GB of storage
  • MV63X with 4K resolution and 1TB of storage
MV63 smart camera infographic

MV93 – See everything around every corner

The MV93 series are the first outdoor-rated fisheye cameras in the MV smart camera lineup.  With IR illumination and 360-degree field of view, they are ideal for providing wide coverage monitoring in areas like parking lots, convention centers, or large retail spaces—day and night. When paired with the new corner mount, MV93 enables visibility around every corner of a building. Like MV63, these new fisheyes will be available in two models: 

  • MV93 with 2112×2112 resolution and 256GB of storage 
  • MV93X with 2880×2880 resolution and 1TB of storage. 
MV93 smart camera infographic

Tell a complete story

Video can be a powerful source of information, valuable to running a business. Meraki has always looked for ways to provide organizations additional value through analytics, from on-camera people and vehicle detection, to Custom CV capabilities as part of MV Sense. Organizations can leverage MV smart camera analytics to improve the worker experience in offices, to reduce wait times in retail stores, and to better serve patrons in libraries and other public spaces. 

The more powerful processors in the new third generation of MV smart cameras will drive new functionality in the future, opening up new ways to optimize operations, increase revenues, and improve experiences. 

Read more about the MV63 and MV93 series and our full line of MV smart cameras or start a trial today.

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Delivering Cloud Security Without Complexity

Cisco Meraki is now certified in the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) registry. Organizations who have the CSA Trusted Cloud Provider and STAR (Security, Trust Assurance, and Risk) Seal demonstrate a commitment to organizational security. STAR is the industry’s most powerful program for security assurance in the cloud. The STAR Registry is publicly accessible and documents the security and privacy controls of cloud offerings.

Achieving this certification may come as no surprise to some. Delivering security that is powerful and resilient—yet simple to manage and deploy—is something we at Meraki have been executing for years, yet it has never been more critical than it is now. Very few companies are running without cybersecurity and physical security systems in place. As businesses grow and more systems move to the cloud, companies must continuously evaluate their security strategies to identify and mitigate evolving risks.

That’s why Meraki is committed to providing a product and service that’s secure from the bottom up, without added complexity. Read on to discover the ways that we deliver on that promise.  

Secure from concept to production

Meraki radically simplifies how organizations securely connect their people, devices, and applications anywhere by combining best-in-class networking and security—by design.

All Meraki products are designed from the ground up to be secure through the Meraki Secure Development Lifecycle (MSDL) process which helps secure our products and solutions from concept to production, throughout their entire lifecycle. By combining tools and libraries, processes, digitized validation, and awareness training, MSDL aligns engineering teams with industry-leading security and privacy technology and best practices to build security in from the start. This includes Cloud Security development requirements for X-as a Service (XaaS) solutions built into the MSDL for Cloud process.

Compliant for peace of mind

Just because your data is in the cloud does not mean it has to be vulnerable. Meraki keeps your data segregated from other users and provides granular access control for the different networks and IoT devices in your environment. And our data centers meet some of the most stringent security compliance standards in the world, including PCI, ISO 27001, and SOC 2 Type 2. Configuration data is encrypted in transit and at rest in the cloud, preventing unwanted changes and potential snooping.

Meraki also has 24/7 automated intrusion protection, IP and port-based firewalls, two-factor authentication, and can restrict remote access by IP address and verify it by public key (RSA). Systems are not accessible via password and administrators are alerted about any configuration changes, so no matter what happens, you know your data is secure.

Protecting what matters

  • Our customers benefit by confidently deploying trusted solutions designed and built with security in mind and aligned to meet or exceed expectations
  • Our development teams benefit from following a mature process with vetted tools and solid solutions resulting in a more secure product

The Meraki Secure Development Lifecycle process is all about keeping our customers’ business resilient and protected while removing complexity.  Delivering security that is simple, powerful, and resilient is something we have been executing for all products and solutions from the start. Achieving the Cloud Security Alliance STAR Registry and Trusted Cloud Provider Certification is validation of our by-design security efforts. Learn more about Meraki’s trustworthy solutions at Trust | Cisco Meraki.

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Did Edge Video Kill the On-premises Star?

Edge video concept illustration

When considering video storage, enterprises today often find themselves on-premises—with a side of cloud. 

Yet many want to cut away from on-premises equipment and proprietary systems that require costly site visits for upgrades, maintenance, and repairs. They wish to reap the benefits of centralized management and use video data for more than just security and insurance claims. 

Increasingly, video data is enhancing customer and employee experiences, improving safety, guiding new opportunities, and increasing efficiency. It’s a scalable, adaptable solution that aids growth even as strategies, customers, or offerings change.

Data, data everywhere

Businesses are leveraging video technologies for more than security. They’re deploying connected smart cameras and sensors to glean invaluable insights from an abundance of device data. Such IoT devices will represent about half (14.7 billion) of all global networked devices by 2023, Cisco reported.

With so much data comes the question of where to store it all. Moving to the cloud is often the answer to tech-driven business questions, but may not be the most appropriate response to this one. 

Cost, agility, and scalability are typical drivers of cloud adoption; control, integration, and custody are standard reasons for staying on-premises. When it comes to video, by storing recent footage on the cameras themselves, enterprises have immediate access to coverage if incidents occur. Archiving footage in the cloud weeks later preserves video at a lower cost. Using cloud-first management solutions provides the strength and flexibility organizations need in this era of hybrid and remote workplaces.

This multi-pronged approach delivers the immediacy that security, insurance, and human resources want, plus the savings CFOs demand. Indeed, 37% of storage, archive, backup, and file server solutions will migrate to the cloud over the next three years.

Living on the edge

Rather than sending video to and from cloud-based storage, edge computing brings data storage and computing power closer to the user. This cuts latency and load, enhancing the user experience. With video, it results in higher resolution, improved buffering, and greater accessibility. 

Wherever it is, data should be encrypted and secured. That’s why Meraki uploads data to MV Cloud Archive over an SSL/TLS connection. Stored video is encrypted at rest. Other security features in Meraki smart cameras include unique user accounts, end-to-end data encryption, and built-in hardware security. 

“We take the privacy of customer video very seriously,” all Meraki camera documentation says

Fast and glorious

Myriad organizations worldwide—across industries and the public sector—use Meraki smart cameras and the Meraki cloud to streamline security and create smart spaces

Maxeon, which designs and manufactures high-efficiency solar technologies, reduced the time it took to review footage to mere minutes, compared with up to seven days, after it installed Meraki MV smart cameras. The Singapore-based company’s access to security events became as easy as a few clicks on the Meraki dashboard, a process that enhanced security, productivity, and value.

Likewise, the combination of the Meraki dashboard and smart cameras simplified strategic deployment of personnel at the College of New Jersey and reduced costs. The college saves “a lot of money” on licenses for three times the number of cameras compared with its legacy system, said CIO Leonard Niebo. It also increased the visibility of its police force and IT staff, and made the school’s population more aware of law enforcement’s presence. 

Video on the edge—with an archive in the cloud—is an exciting, safe, and rewarding place to be.

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