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Business Mobility in 2016: Bold Ambition plus Capability Key

By Sanjay Khanna, Senior Analyst, Canadian Mobile Business Applications and Services, IDC Canada

2016 is an inflection year for business mobility in Canada. As we step into the 16th year of the 21st century, Canadian organizations’ ability to select and deploy next-gen advanced tech will largely define successful adaptation to the kinds of challenging economic conditions that typically impact both business and consumer mindsets.

Amid such stressors, and perhaps even because of them, 60% of new applications worldwide will be “mobile first” with no PC antecedent by 2018, according to IDC. Much of this mobile application growth will be driven by organizations capitalizing on digital transformation (DX).

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An ex-Winnipegger’s Guide to Winter Survival

IMG_1212So it’s here … it happens every year … and yet the onslaught of winter always jolts our senses and monopolizes our elevator conversations as if it’s something new. I moved to Toronto 15 years ago from Winnipeg and, while I do have a tendency to scoff at Torontonians when they start moaning about minus 10 weather (if they only knew the torture of plugging in your car, freezing in bus shelters, icicles dangling from your eyelashes…), I have acclimated to Toronto winters and do participate in the local melancholy.

Along with physical discomfort we have to bear, winter storms cost local economies heavily. The ripple effect of poor road conditions is huge, from lost wages for employees to lost revenue for companies, to lost tax income for governments.  According to a study commissioned by the American Highway Users Alliance and carried out by global consulting firm HIS Global Insight, the impact of a one day shutdown can cost some provinces hundreds of millions of dollars.

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How Cisco Technology Can Help Create Great Customer Service Experiences Online

Whether you are aware of it or not, consumers today increasingly interact with their family and friends through digital platforms such as social networks, instant message applications and streaming video services.

I recently wrote about the evolution of digital customer service, and what it means for marketers, on the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) website. But the impact of this evolution isn’t limited to your marketing team – leaders from all parts of your organization need to realize the digital shift that is happening, and how it will affect your bottom line. Continue reading

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Nine Technology Trends that Will Shape 2016

Innovation Centre 5A year has come and gone. It is time to take out the crystal ball and make some predictions for 2016. Many have done this over the past weeks leading up to the new year. GartnerIDCJuniper Research and many more have shared what they believe 2016 has in store for us with regards to technology trends and digital transformation. They have done this so well that it would be futile for me to create yet another list of trends that I believe will shape the year ahead. Instead, I will highlight some of the common predictions and maybe add one or two of my own.

Digital Transformation in the boardroom.

Anything related to technology and digital does not get surrendered to the IT department anymore. IDC predicts that by the end of 2017, two-thirds of CEOs of global 2000 enterprises will have prioritized digital transformation to the centre of their corporate strategy. Many examples of tech and traditional companies that have used digital capabilities to disrupt and transform business models and industries (e.g. Uber, Starbucks) have made executives realize that digitization is inevitable to all processes, in all corporations, in all industries.

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Digital Transformation in the Cisco Innovation Centre Toronto

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Four years ago, Cisco collaborated with Delta Controls to develop the first-ever IP-based, Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) HVAC controller. The building automation control industry and the information technology sector were now officially converged, and we never looked back. This groundbreaking innovation led to the creation of Cisco Canada’s first industry innovation laboratory: a place where we worked with other technology companies to build innovative solutions that address business challenges, and have the opportunity to transform industries at their core.

Retail analytics with Aislelabs; interactive signage with Jibestream; intelligent IP-based lighting solutions with Philips; grid optimization with London Hydro; and smart building solutions with EllisDon, are just a few of the many exciting projects that were envisioned, created and tested in the Cisco Innovation Laboratory in Toronto.
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Cisco Innovation Centre Toronto Opens its Doors

I am proud of the ways Cisco is investing in Canada. We have established 12 University Research Chairs across Canada and the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games technology legacy program. There’s also our R&D job creation initiative with the Province of Ontario and the Cisco Canada Innovation Program, which is investing up to $150 Million in Canadian companies and venture capital funds.

On Tuesday these investments culminated in an unforgettable event. This week we opened our Cisco Innovation Centre Toronto, a world-class facility designed to catalyze and showcase digital innovation and development.

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A Great Week for the Internet of Things

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In the first week of December 2015 we concluded another successful Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF). More than two-thousand industry professionals gathered in Dubai for the 3rd annual event to showcase, discuss, and advance the world of IoT. Cisco hosted the event, which was supported by a group of incredible companies with mind boggling experience, focus and innovation in the IoT. Global powerhouses like Intel, Rockwell Automation, General Electric, Du, 3M, IBM, Schneider Electric, Etisalat, Panduit, and Siemens spent three full days with established innovators, software companies and integrators, as well as with entrepreneurial startups that will change the face of the IoT forever.

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IoT and the even smarter museum…

Sabrina Greupner is the Ontario Science Centre’s Cisco Science Fellow for Innovative Learning Technologies. This is Cisco’s first museum-based fellowship.

cookieIf you’re in the center of that magical Venn diagram where geeks and museum staff overlap, there are two gatherings every year that draw you like a magnet: the Museum Computing Network (MCN) conference, and Museums and the Web. A meeting of professionals interested in digital practice and technology for the cultural sector, MCN recently took place in Minneapolis and one of the hot topics was IoT. Can the Internet of Things make a museum visitor’s experience even more awesome, and if so, how?

Over the last few years, forward-thinking cultural institutions have been piloting a number of digital projects. For some, the hope is to stay relevant in a world where facts are now just a Google away, and more options than ever vie for your “edutainment” dollar. For others, digital provides an unparalleled opportunity to enhance what visitors get to see and do.

phoneHere at the Ontario Science Centre, Augmented Reality (AR) triggers have provided parents with layered pedagogical content in our KidSpark children’s area, QR codes encourage downloads of teacher/parent guides and eBooks, a railing-mounted iPad displays animated content to show how caves form, and interactive kiosks solicit opinions on breaking science news. While some visitors have enthusiastically welcomed the chance to use these new tools, there were challenges, both technical (“No free wifi? I’m out.”) and cultural (“I brought my kids here to get them away from their screens!”).

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s app lets users customize their own “collections” and share seamlessly across social media platforms.

Museums, galleries and science centres are traditionally places where visitors come to encounter the “real” and interact in ways, and with objects, outside of their everyday lives. So, just because we can use technology, should we? As Jessica Gelt of the LA Times indicates in her recent article on museums and ‘selfie culture’: “For every app-loving, gadget embracing museum curator or visitor there is a solitude-craving, analog enthusiast who feels that pixelated screens and interactive devices interfere with the very soul of the museum-going experience.”

The question then becomes, how do we best use digital to engage visitors and enhance their experiences without detracting from the “real”? Cultural institutions are struggling with this issue right now. And while the technical groundwork may have been laid (thanks to Cisco, we’re getting building-wide wifi this year), what are the cultural and social implications of the wired 21st century museum?

With many visitors now bringing their own mobile devices, the “museum app” is a popular approach. From wayfinding and audio tours, to push-notifications alerting users about workshops and films about to start, museum apps provide a digital layer that supplements the on-site offering. Because it is “opt-in”, it provides an invisible layer of augmentation (no need to mount screens all over the museum walls) for those interested in exploring deeper and connecting digitally with the content.

This digital layer can range from the basic—audio tours that ask you to follow a map or locate numbered exhibits—to more sophisticated location-aware tech that tracks the user’s movements and delivers relevant just-in-time content and info.

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At the Cooper Hewitt, visitors can borrow a digital “pen” that lets them collect virtual items, draw on interactive tables, and access the content through a website once they’re home.

But not everyone has a smartphone or wants to use it on-site. And there’s that pesky issue of privacy and data collection when location- aware technologies like beacons and RFID interact with personal devices.

With IoT, a new range of options opens up. As Martin Timusk, Director of Information Technology at the Ontario Science Centre, puts it: “Rather than using smartphones—which are personal, confidential—we could give them a smart, anonymous Internet of Things object they could clip to their clothes or hang from a lanyard that they associate with their own device. Visitors could interact with exhibits, collect virtual objects, locate themselves on interactive maps, send interesting info and extra content home or to social media accounts…there are a range of possibilities these cheap connected things create.”

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A prototype “magnifying lens” created through the meSch project lets visitors interact with historical objects.

Work along these lines has been taking place through the meSch project, (Material EncounterS with digital Cultural Heritage). A consortium of partners from six European countries, meSch has a goal of “designing, developing and deploying tools for the creation of tangible interactive experiences that connect the physical dimension of museums and exhibitions with relevant digital cross-media information in novel ways.” In other words, they’re exploring the use of smart objects and intelligent spaces to enhance the visitor experience. For example, a physical guidebook that responds to cultural artefacts and triggers multimedia during a walking tour, or a “magnifying lens” that adds a layer of digital content to displays of ancient objects.

In the end, it’s about providing visitors with digital options that enhance the experience, but don’t detract from the “real” spaces and content they’ve come to see in the first place. To be successful, the tech needs to flow seamlessly through the social experience of going to a museum, and provide even more points of entry for people to engage, learn and share.

Got some great ideas for ways in which technology can help spread science engagement and literacy? Give me a shout @CISCOmuse or sabrina.greupner@osc.on.ca

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Meet Cisco Spark

By Dean La Riviere, GM, Collaboration, Cisco Canada

Cisco Spark homepage

Last week at Collaboration Summit in San Francisco, we ushered in a new era of employee communication. As Cisco SVP Rowan Trollope wrote on the Cisco blog:

To get work done, people need to be able to message, meet and call each other without thinking about it and without stopping to consider what device they are using.  Whether they are on a room system, a desktop phone, or a mobile phone, they should all work the same. 

When you get a call you should be able to answer on any of your devices–and if you want to change the device you are using, that should be easy too.  Continue reading

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