Shopping in a Digital World: A Q&A with Derek Dykens at Cisco

We live in an ever-changing world. As the lines between physical and digital continue to blur, the retail landscape has changed dramatically as a result. New customer expectations, transformed shopping behaviors and the boom of data has retailers struggling to keep up. Bell Canada asked Derek Dykens, Retail Practice Advisor at Cisco, to share his perspective on where the industry is heading.


Q:  What key industry trends are you seeing across retail globally?

Dykens: Delivering an omnichannel customer experience has been top of mind for retailers the past few years and will continue to be an area they heavily invest in. Leveraging analytics and loyalty programs are bringing personalized mobile experiences to life while seamlessly connecting the ecommerce platform in store. Additionally, new pressure has been placed on supply chain operations to enable flexible product fulfillment options for the customer. Ship from store, 2-hour delivery, curbside pickup, SmartLockers and other options are allowing the customer to receive products based on personal preference. The role of the in-store associate and customer contact centers are also evolving. A shift is occurring where customers are doing research online and coming to the store with more knowledge than ever before. Associates need to have the technology tools and proper training to continue providing value to the customers. Continue reading

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How the Quebec Technology Association is Transforming with Technology – Part 3

In part one of this series I shared the story of L’Association québécoise des technologies (AQT), or the Quebec Technology Association, and the struggle it faced to connect and engage with disparate members. In part two I revealed how AQT is conquering this struggle and transforming itself with technology.

In the conclusion of this story today, I’ll look at how AQT’s decision to deploy a Cisco TelePresence solution – as well as WebEx and Jabber – has changed how AQT operates and what the future has in store.

AQT has used the Cisco video collaboration solutions (TelePresence, WebEx and Jabber) for a handful of events and the feedback from members has been positive. Members who couldn’t attend events previously were suddenly able to join via video and finally participate in discussions. The simplicity of Jabber was also praised.

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The Future of Collaboration

This month, we announced major bold and beautiful updates to our WebEx meeting platform. Now more than ever, WebEx is a one-stop-shop for meeting, conferencing and collaborating. As a tech addict and avid WebEx user what excites me most about this announcement goes beyond the updates to the web, audio and video offerings. Our new Collaboration Meeting Room service will bring our immersive brand of virtual collaboration to anyone, anywhere while maintaining an element of personalization and ease of use that really takes the user experience to new heights.

To learn more about the announcement, check out this excerpt from Cisco’s Collaboration lead Rowan Trollope’s blog post below.

What kind of a world will you live in three years from now? How about five? Will your personal robot pour you a drink after your self-driving car delivers you home? That’s where we’re headed, and it’s a pretty quick trip: self-driving cars are already on public roads and you’ll soon be able to buy that humanoid robot. Continue reading

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Creating a Smarter Oil and Gas Industry, Part 3: Field Enablement and Remote Sensors

AQ11149The Canadian Oil and Gas industry spans a vast geography, from remote operations in the high arctic to offshore platforms in the Atlantic coast. As discussed in part two of this series, the Canadian Oil and Gas industry faces significant challenges. The resources we need for production are in places that require hours of travel, but today’s Digital Oilfield collaboration environment is restricted to physical rooms and fixed locations.

This restricts the value of collaboration to only those who have access to the “rooms.”  Significant productivity gains exist when we can provide collaboration beyond the field and head office.  By enabling the remote field worker with collaboration beyond the field office, we are enabling the field engineer or maintenance person and increasing their productivity. I call this Field Enablement. Continue reading

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How Does Your Business Know When it’s Ready for the Cisco Business Edition 6000?

Today, there is one undeniable truth in the technology industry: technology must enable businesses to meet the communication needs of their employees and customers today, while laying the foundation for additional value-rich services tomorrow. After all, if your products aren’t built for today with an eye on tomorrow, what value are you providing customers?

That truth is why we developed the Cisco Business Edition 6000. Designed for the mid-market and customers with their eye on growth and scalability, it’s not like anything else on the market.

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How the Quebec Technology Association is Transforming with Technology – Part 2

In part one of this series I shared the story of L’Association québécoise des technologies (AQT), or the Quebec Technology Association, and the struggle it faced to connect and engage with disparate members.

In today’s post I will dive into how AQT is conquering this struggle and transforming itself with technology.  Watch for the conclusion to this story in my final post next week.

If you recall, AQT had realized they needed to change the way they interacted with disparate members. Hosting events in Montreal and having members dial in over the phone, while Montreal-based members attended live, just wasn’t meeting the organization’s objectives anymore.

But what could they do? Despite their large membership size of more than 600, AQT itself is a small business. How could they enhance the experience for remote attendees? Video technology was the obvious answer, but seemed out of the question because AQT believed that only the largest enterprises could afford it.

Continue reading

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To Be Or Not To Be (Ubered) … That’s The Question

“To be or not to be…”, says Prince Hamlet as he considers death and suicide. He laments the pains and unfairness of life but recognizes that the alternative might be still worse. “In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined,” suggests American Psychologist Thomas Szasz. This is what the taxi industry today must be thinking. Or is it already too late for them? Has the ‘alternative to the unfairness of life’ (thus the end of an industry) already become a reality?

Uber is the Internet of Everything at work. The 2009 start-up is taking the world by storm. In its five short years of existence, it now is valuated at almost $20B. And what does it do exactly? It connects people with things (specifically, cars and a very large distributed driver network with their smart phones in more than 200 cities worldwide). It is transforming the taxi process and industry as we know it. Uber has wrapped technology around the power-of-many (the human network) and built a process, and business, that takes advantage of shifts in demand (I need a ride) and supply (I have a car and I will take you): it has redefined taxi services as we know it.

And taxi drivers aren’t happy. And why would they be: their business is being cannibalized, their future in jeopardy.

In some places the lobby against Uber, Lyft and alike is working (for now). Certain communities are denying Uber from setting up shop in their towns. If it is the fear of the unknown; the uncertainty of unproven business models and unknown risks that may come with them; or the strong lobby of an existing industry. None are good reasons for stopping progress, invention and innovation in its tracks.

Now, this blog isn’t about Uber, or Lyft, or eBay, or Whatzapp, or Alibaba, or any of the other 10,000s of applications that define today’s app-economy and provide the opportunity to rethink how we learn, live, work, and play. Within today’s app-economy and growing sharing culture, we see that no existing and proven supply-demand business model is safe from disruption. We (established industries, governments and their antiquated procurement processes, consumers, etc.) can either step up and define today’s world, or have it be defined for us (by 30-year-olds from their kitchen table and an Internet connection).

The innovation and possibilities shouldn’t be stalled or stopped because of rules and policy, but instead celebrated and encouraged. The next $20B start-up can come from your basement, street, neighbourhood or community. To our municipal leaders: Be sure to create a culture and environment where disruption and transformation is welcomed. The new economy is here, and its innovators are everywhere (fact: 40% of recent most successful start-ups did not originate in metropolitan areas)…don’t stop them and don’t force them away.

Innovation (greatly spurred by the constant emergence of technology and the Internet) will continue to introduce new business and consumption models and upset the world as we know it. This is good. Especially for countries where economies are being challenged with eroding manufacturing and labour industries. If we want to positively alter the productivity and innovation trajectories of nations that once led the world stage, we will need to expect our traditional “ways of doing things”to be disrupted and transformed.

No matter what industry you are in or what industry you believe you lead, if you still want to be meaningful in tomorrow’s economy then you need to start Ubering now (or accept to be Ubered, and deal with the consequences).

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How the Quebec Technology Association is Transforming with Technology

Organizing educational and networking events for members of a group can be difficult when participants are not centrally located. Why? Members unable to attend in person can only call in by phone and listen to presentations, which, as we all know, is far less valuable than being in the same room with peers.

My company, Medwave Optique, has worked with companies and organizations across Quebec to solve problems – just like this one – through technology. Starting with this post I will share the story of an organization that Medwave Optique is a member of, L’Association québécoise des technologies (AQT), and how it is transforming how it operates through video technology.


In this first post (of three), I will introduce AQT and share the challenge they faced. Their story will sound familiar to many of you reading this, as your company may also be struggling to connect employees and clients over long distances. Next week I will discuss how AQT found the answer to their business challenge through technology, and in two weeks will conclude this series with a look forward to what is next. Continue reading

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Introducing True Growth to Canada’s Municipalities

By Stuart Baker, True Growth Specialist, Cisco Canada

On October 7th municipalities from across Canada will meet in Toronto at the Cisco Canada headquarters for the inaugural True Growth Summit. Attending municipalities include Winnipeg, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Waterloo, Toronto, Newmarket, Kingston, Saint John, Moncton and Halifax.

Each of these municipalities is currently in the process of using the True Growth framework to develop human networks or ecosystems. The goal is to get more ‘stuff’ done faster through citizen engagement and collaboration.

They will share their experiences and hopefully begin to create a national ecosystem of municipal collaboration. Specific topics to be discussed include: the role of the True Growth Curator and how best to communicate that role to the community, the latest in collaborative technology, and how to measure the vitality of a human ecosystem.

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Welcome our new Canadian Intercloud Partners

A lot has happened since I last discussed our Intercloud strategy in April of this year. In fact, since introducing Intercloud in March, Cisco and our partners have been building the world’s largest Intercloud to address customer requirements for a global, highly secure cloud platform capable of meeting the robust demands of the Internet of Everything.

If you aren’t familiar with Intercloud, it is designed for high-value application workloads, with real-time analytics and near infinite scalability. It offers open APIs to enable customization by customers and by partners, and our partnerships with regional and local cloud providers enable data sovereignty strategies.

Why introduce Intercloud and work with our partners in this way? The answer for us is clear. Our Intercloud strategy expands our addressable Cloud market from $22Bn to $88Bn from 2013-2017.

But that market is only possible through our partners. And that brings me to this latest announcement.

This week, we took our biggest step yet towards realizing our Intercloud vision with the announcement of more than 30 partners worldwide, including three that got their start – and still base themselves – in Canada.

These partners bring more than 250 data centers across 50 countries to the Intercloud. Partners such as Canada’s own CGI, Long View Systems and OnX will bring their cloud and managed services capability to the Intercloud, while Tech Data, Comstor and Ingram Micro join the ecosystem as brokers of Intercloud services.

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