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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Defining Cloud

Defining Cloud

Cloud, Cloud, Cloud it is all about the cloud. Soon Starbucks will be in the Cloud as well (why not many use them to access the cloud with their Wi-Fi enabled Latte)

The heavy internet pundits such as Amazon, EBay, Google and even deliver computing services to multiple customers simultaneously through the internet. This is considered Cloud Computing.

But what is the Cloud?

Cloud is simply the delivery of IT services on a subscription basis that can be accessed from any Internet connection. (Wired or Wireless) that offers customers the benefits of economies of scale and shared infrastructure.

There are five key elements that define Cloud:

1. Offered ‘as a service’—and ready to use;
-This can be software such as or Google Maps (SaaS)
-This can be platform as a service such as Google Apps or Microsoft’s Azure (PaaS)
-This can be Infrastructure as a service such as Storage Services (IaaS)

2. Rapidly scalable—available on demand, with the ability to add or remove resources as required;

-Turn up additional services easily without disruption

3. Shared—multiple customers sharing the same resources and underlying infrastructure;

Economies of scale in using services and not having to worry about technology outlay or resource management

4. Pay-per-use—a metered service that can be provided through different pricing plans;

Monthly subscriptions to services

5. Web-enabled—provided using Internet-based technologies

Ability to access services through browsers as opposed to thick or thin clients

RIM Playbook First Impressions April 15, 2011

RIM Playbook First Impressions April 15, 2011

I had a chance today to play with the RIM Playbook today for an hour and it’s a very impressive tablet.


Dual Core 1GHZ ARM processor with 1GB of RAM – allows speedy response and the ability to multitask applications.

QNX Neutrino OS – space shuttle software arrives to the tablet market

3 MP front and 5 MP rear Cameras – can shoot HD video

HTML5 Browser – supports Flash (which Apple will not support)

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Network interfaces - Cellular interfaces to come

Security – Tethered to Blackberry Smartphone for access to BES servers.

It definitely has the legendary RIM build quality feeling kind of hefty in your hand, but not heavy, just the feel of a solid built device. The back is rubberized and has a nice grippiness to it. Having a Kindle, I was very comfortable with the size of the unit. The Kindle is plasticky and its back is slippery so one needs to be a little more careful holding it. I do find my iPad to be a different experience to use after using the Kindle to read for a few hours. The iPad is obviously larger and better to read PDF magazines and watch videos. The Playbook was very comfortable to use and actually can slip into my jacket pocket. I think this size is ideal for the busy business user. Naturally, a larger screen version will come to market later this year. The Playbook is a professional grade device in the palm of your hand.

The OS works very well and I did not experience any bugginess but I was limited to the applications on hand in the device. The multitasking works very well. I was able to display a 1080 video to a monitor while surfing the web. No hiccups and the video quality was superb. This is an ideal device for showing videos to customers at the table or with a pocket projector in a boardroom.

The lack of applications is going to be a difficult one at start although there will be the ability to run android applications. However, I think the real true business applications will come about as software developers realize there is a new market to cater to. Sure, Apple has a lot of applications but how many of those are useful and how many of those are real. I do not call a zippo lighter app to be useful at all. I think when the corporate world sees the many gaming apps on the Apple iPad it doesn’t seem to be a true business tool. Remember, Apple has had a 1 year head start so there will be more apps but I think RIM will drive the need for more intelligent applications better suited for the business user. Apps are coming for those that are patient.

The top selling feature I believe the Playbook will bring is the security aspects required for the business community. The safe BES servers are what President Obama uses and have been cleared by all the triple letter agencies. Many corporate IT departments have the BES server so adding on the Playbook application isn’t a big deal. Also RIM will be more open to IT departments than the very closed Apple ecosystem that Steve Jobs invented...

Do not dismiss the Playbook, its an excellent device with a bit of a slow start to get sorted out and the poor press will defiantly bring that up, but RIM has been a very very “Fast follower” I was surprised to see how well of a great job they have done in a short timeframe. RIM has nailed the user experience very nicely and it was a very intuitive experience using the device.

Look at the other manufacturers that are actually now very late to the tablet arena. Motorola Xoom has not taken off, and where is HP’s WebOS tablet? And of course Asus, Dell and the others have not done much lately. It will be an interesting time when these come out and the shoot out begins.

Word to Go Application

This was a very easy app to use and I was able to start taking some notes with it right away. The 7” Playbook makes it easier to take notes while standing as the larger iPad becomes more cumbersome as you do need two hands to hold it.


The Dual core processor and leaner QNX OS allowed the apps to work very quickly and smoothly. It is very noticable how fast it works. Putting the Samsung TAB beside it is very easy notice how it lagged behind when opening apps and the browser would glitch at times. RIM did a great job in getting the CPU right out of the box. No wonder Apple had to double the speed with their A5 process or in the iPad 2.

Zero Buttons

The QNX software also allows a very simply method of accessing applications. Since it allows multitasking there is no need for the Apple Button. The built in bezel buttons allows swiping to occur fairly easily.


The ability to view Flash on the web works very well and I had no glitches. I don’t know how important it is to the user but for me it hasn’t been an issue. I am not sure if I will miss it on my iPads.

So RIM has done an excellent job with the Playbook, it does need some work on the application side and its security feature will be a huge selling point for the business community. I think this will be the market that the Playbook will play in as a companion to the Blackberry Smartphone. RIM still has work to do but I would not rule them out or write them off yet.

RIM Playbook or Apple iPad?

Well as an iPad user and iPod Touch user, I am very happy with the Apple tablet and there is some great apps that work on the apple OS only. I also own a Kindle which the 7” screen is a great reader and I find the screen to be easier on my eyes for extended reading. As a business user I think the Playbook will be a great tablet and ion that case my employer can pony up the cash for the tablet so I can pair it with my corporate email address and BES management.

These are all tools that work better for specific applications, more so than others, and the consumer gets to choose which is best for them. Unfortunately, for geeks like me I have to have several devices.

Location Based Technologies are a Game Changer

Location Based Technologies are a Game Changer

May Smartphone’s and mobile devices (tablets and Netbooks) have built in location based technologies (GPS). This allows the application to know where you are and share that information with other users or local businesses. Look up local restaurants and post reviews after eating or get coupon deals while looking for a place to eat. What is still unexplored may be the gaming application that uses the location information in an interactive way. Regardless, many users use the application to see what their friends in the area are doing and keep in touch that way. Hmmmm looks like Tony is at Thai Magic and Robert is at Wing Machine……OH and that’s interesting my ex-girlfriend is at Wing Machine as well.

Here are a few apps that use location based technologies:

Yelp and Urbanspoon helps you figure out where to eat and review restaurants.

Loopt allows you to see which friends are around you

BrightKite can also manage photos and status updates

Gowalla is a location based travel game that rewards users for visiting different locations

AroundMe helps you find a variety of services, stores, and restaurants near you

Foursquare combines the community features of a good location based social network, with the competitive features of a scavenger hunt

Moximity is a location based app that allows you to connect with friends in your vicinity, and see where they are at the moment.

Introducing the Apple iPad 2 an IDC Analyst report

This is a reprint of Krista's viewpoint and I am a fan of her work

When the first iPad launched last year, Jobs described it as “magical”. So does that label apply to the iPad 2? It’s always a tough act to follow the wonderment of the first born child. In this case, iPad 2 has some incremental features and functionality that set it apart from the first version, including:

• Rear facing HD camera, and front facing VGA camera
• 33 per cent thinner 8.8mm (13.4mm)
• 15 per cent lighter: 1.3 pounds (vs. 1.5 pounds)
• Two colours – black and white
• Up to 2x faster CPU and up to 9x faster graphics
• Dual core processors
• 3-axis gyroscopes (aids in gesture-based actions, navigation and gaming)
• Running iOS 4.3

These features will also help the iPad 2 remain competitive with the competition that will be in the market in 2011, and will have many features and functions that were missing in the first iPad. Samsung, Motorola, RIM, and others are not in the market yet, but have been announced and expected to launch in 2011.

Related stories

Although bleeding edge adopters bought their iPad’s not even 1 year ago (iPad was first available in Canada end of May, 2010) some may still pass on their existing ‘old’ technology to kids – parents or friends and opt for the latest and greatest. Other early adopters may put off purchasing a new iPad so soon, and wait for the iPad 3, for which rumors have already begun. Why? iPad 2 may not have enough of the “magic” for some existing iPad owners to upgrade just yet. The iOS upgrade that was made available recently could provide enough added functionality such as multitasking to hold off until the 3rd version of iPad. And while the devices are affordable at a starting price of CAN$549, they still put a dent in the wallet.
So how will Apple succeed with iPad 2? By continuing to build on its economies of scale that it holds over other vendors in the market. Apple’s brand and loyal following of customers will also help drive sales, but arguably the most important factor longer term will be its ecosystem – the community of developers and hence, the 350,000 plus apps it has available to run on its mobile devices and over 65,000 native apps for iPad, increasing its value to the end user.

There is room for competition for those vendors focused on niche markets. RIM is well positioned to win the hearts of business users in Canada who are already invested in BlackBerry devices, and trust the security inherent in RIM’s devices and brand name. Apple’s iPad2 does not support flash either, impacting the user experience while Web browsing, and opening the door for competitors. There were also some issues with iPads being returned recently due to the touch screens acting up. Customers may dismiss that as part of the bleeding edge experience and working out the bugs, or it could impact their next media tablet selection. As for the old inventory, it’s expected to come down in price to help clear shelves, while the new devices will maintain the same price structure as before.

iPad 2′s incremental features will help keep the momentum going and drive continued adoption and mindshare among early adopters and the mainstream alike… at least until Apple comes out with another magical surprise. Abracadabra!

Krista Napier, is an IDC Canada senior analyst specializing in Canadian emerging technology

Protect your PBX From Hackers and Phreakers!

Theft of long distance service, telecommunications services and toll fraud come in many different forms. Understanding your telecommunications system and the techniques used by the criminals are key to limiting your vulnerability to this type of crime.

1. Learn about your telecommunications system:
• know the safeguards, the inherent defenses and security features;
• determine the vulnerabilities;
• ensure staff are trained in safeguards and procedures.

2. Know the access paths that open doors to fraud:
• Direct Inward System Access (DISA);
• Voice-Mail System;
• Remote System Administration (Maintenance Ports);
• Direct Inward Dialing;
• Tie Trunks and Tandem Network Services;
• Modems.

3. Monitor and analyze your systems information:
• Study call detail records and review billing records (exception reports may provide a warning sign);
• Know calling patterns and review them;
• Review voice-mail reports;
• Monitor valid and invalid calling attempts whenever possible.

4. Know the signs of a security breach:
• Complaints that the system is always busy;
• Sudden changes in normal calling patterns such as increases in wrong number calls or silent hang-ups, night, weekend and holiday traffic, 800 and WATS calls, international calling, and odd calls (i.e. crank/obscene calls);
• Toll calls originating in voice-mail;
• Long holding times;
• Unexplained 900 (Chat Line) calls;
• High tolls for any unauthorized trunk extension.

5. Secure your System(s):

System configuration:
• Restrict access to specific times (business hours) & limit calling ranges;
• Block all toll calls at night, on weekends and on holidays;
• Restrict call forwarding to local calls only;
• Block all 10XXXX calling from your PBX if this service is not necessary
• Block, limit access or Require attendant assistance to overseas calls;
• Establish policies on accepting collect calls and providing access to outside lines;

• Educate switchboard operators and employees about "social engineering" (i.e. con- artists trying to obtain calling access or transfers through a PBX);
• Secure equipment rooms (lock up all telephone equipment & wiring frames);

PBX (Private Branch Exchange) and DISA (Direct Inward System Access):
• Change default codes after installation of new equipment;
• Never publish DISA telephone numbers;
• Change your DISA access telephone number periodically;
• Issue a different DISA authorization code for all users and Warn DISA users not to write them down;
• Do not use sequential access numbers;
• Use longer DISA codes (minimum 7-9 digits) and change the codes regularly;
• Disconnect telephone extensions that are not in use;
• Restrict DISA access at night, weekends and on holidays (Prime time for fraud);
• Block or restrict overseas access;
• Program your system to answer with silence after five or six rings (Hackers look for systems that answer with a steady tone)
• Identify invalid access attempts to your DISA and route them to an operator;
• Implement DISA ports that drop the line when an invalid code is entered;
• Program your PBX to generate an alarm when an unusual number of invalid attempts are made, and to disable the port after a set number of invalid attempts.

Voice-Mail Systems
• Establish controlled procedures to set and reset passwords;
• Change passwords regularly;
• Use maximum length passwords for system manager box & maintenance ports;
• Prohibit the use of trivial, simple passwords (i.e. 222, 123, your last name, etc.);
• Limit the number of consecutive log-in attempts to five or less;
• Change all factory installed passwords;
• Block access to long distance trunking facilities, and collect call options on the auto attendant;
• Block or preferably Delete all inactive mailboxes;
• Limit your out-calling;
• In systems that allow callers to transfer to other extensions, block any digits that hackers could use to get outside lines, especially trunk access codes;
• Conduct routine reviews of the status of your system and system usage.

Remote Access Ports
• Block access to remote maintenance ports and system administration ports;
• Use maximum length access codes and change them regularly.

• Use maximum length passwords and change frequently;
• Eliminate three-way calling on all extensions used with modems;
• Disconnect modems that are not in use.

Now this is an interesting story “How Apple Dodged a Sun Buyout”

Now this is an interesting story “How Apple Dodged a Sun Buyout”

At a Churchill Club dinner, former Sun executives Scott McNealy and Ed Zander discuss why the company didn't buy Apple in 1996, the real beginnings of cloud computing and why Linux should never have SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Would there be iPhones, iPads and iPods on the market today if Sun Microsystems had been able to close a deal to buy out Apple in the mid-1990s?

No, says former Sun CEO Scott McNealy. "If we had bought Apple, there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads ... I'd have screwed that up," McNealy conceded
"Back in late 1995 early '96, when we were at our peak, we were literally hours away from buying Apple for about $5 to $6 a share,” said Zander, who had built Sun’s software business into a powerhouse and was rewarded with promotion to president by his mentor, McNealy.

“Honest to gosh, I was at an analysts' meeting in San Diego on a Tuesday morning and was getting ready to announce that we were going to buy Apple. I don't know what we were going to do with it, but we were going to buy it. (Apple) had no CEO at the time, Steve (Jobs) wasn't there, but we didn't get it. Why didn't we buy it?"

"We wanted to do it," McNealy said. "There was an investment banker on the Apple side, an absolute disaster, and he basically blocked it. He put so many terms into the deal that we couldn't afford to go do it."

Sun Microsystem was ahead of the curve in other areas. For example, McNealy says Sun can take credit for developing the concept and fundamental elements of cloud computing.

"We invented all the elements of cloud computing at Sun. Remember, our tagline was 'The network is the computer.' We came up with TCP/IP, the first NFS (network file system), and Java. All those things are the basis for cloud computing today and they all still work really well."

McNealy was also responsible for open source development: "We invented open source at Sun, taking the first open source operating system (Sun co-founder Bill Joy's BSD Unix) out of Berkeley. We open-sourced TCP/IP, Java—a long list of really important IT building blocks. Other companies, like Red Hat, might have monetized it better."

Retail Mobility and WiFi Hotspots

Did you know that close to 40% of retailers plan to add Wi-Fi Hotspots for Customer Access within the next 24 months? By giving mobile access to shoppers, innovative retailers are able to wirelessly link shoppers to:

• product descriptions
• reviews and ratings
• video demos

By connecting to consumers mobile devices, these interactive marketing techniques are creating more unique in-store experiences that are helping to drive impulse purchases and keep consumers returning to the store for repeat visits.
Mobile couponing and mobile ordering also are growing in popularity, with more than 30% of retailers reporting plans to add those apps in the next 24 months.

How to create Innovation by Brainsteering and lead to the journey of One Million Acts of Innovation

How to create Innovation by Brainsteering and lead to the journey of One Million Acts of Innovation

In Kevin Coyne’s new book titled Brainsteering: A Better Approach To Breakthrough Ideas he explains the process of generating new ideas.
Change the way you think about new ideas by steering your creativity in new and more productive directions.

Ideas. Whether the goal is to create a billion-dollar business, fix a broken process, reduce expenses, or simply find the perfect gift for that special someone, we all need a steady stream of breakthrough ideas—and we've all learned from experience that traditional brainstorming doesn't generate them.

Former McKinsey consultants Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne have spent more than a decade developing a better approach—Brainsteering—that takes brainstorming and other outdated ideation techniques and "steers" them in a more productive direction by better reflecting the way human beings actually think and work in creative problem-solving situations. By introducing just the right amount of structure into the process, and asking just the right questions,.

Peppered with thought-provoking and entertaining examples drawn from the workplace and popular culture, Brainsteering can help anyone develop breakthrough ideas, whether working alone on a one-time problem or turning an entire organization into an ongoing "idea factory." And getting started is easy: simply ask the right questions, and good ideas will follow.


Brainsteering has an appendix that shares 104 questions to use when brainstorming a new business idea, including:

What’s the biggest (avoidable) hassle that customers have to put up with?

Who doesn’t understand how to use our product?

Who has modified our product most extensively after purchasing it?

How would our product change if it were tailored for every customer?

What complexity do we plan for every day that, if eliminated, could change the way we operate?

What would it take to bypass the least efficient part of our supply or distribution chain?

What activities might our customers prefer to do for themselves if only they could?

What entities benefit economically to the greatest extent from our presence, and what could they do to help us succeed?

This is recommended book for the creative and voracious thinker and for those who need a kick start to create innovation.

Innovators can also get on board the as well as the Linkedin group.

Business Intelligence in Retail – The Appeal of Data

Business intelligence in retail is becoming extremely important. Successful retail companies and enterprises are using data integration, BI, data mining and other data management reports to lower marketing costs and increase revenue and profitability. Retailers that can collect and capitalize on the data they gather will gain a healthy return on their BI investments. However, the Business Intelligence landscape has changed and it’s become more important to take advantage Amazon is a very successful online retailer but is also a data company that has the ability to track consumer shopping patterns. Amazon has been very innovative in offering a multitude of services to its customers enhancing the shopping experience.

FaceBook is now becoming the new online retail experience taking advantage of the friend’s concept and people buy what their friends have or suggest. FaceBook is also the gatherer of demographic information that it has from it’s over 500 million subscribers.

Twitter is not a retailer as of yet however they are a gatherer of valuable consumer sentiment and trend data that can be very useful in retail sales generation.

Google and Yahoo Analytics also provide an immense wealth of data gathered for the internet and can be presented in an array of forms. Retailers that can start talking of advantage of the various inputs available and processing that information into meaningful Lead and Demand Generation campaigns will find success in a laser like approach.

Online Retail Internet Tools that Consumers use Today

51% considered information shared on their networks when making a purchase decision

Social Networks Have Forever Changed Online Behaviors

Online Retail Internet Tools that Consumers use Today

There are many apps that consumers use when shopping and retailers are starting to exploit those tools to engage and improve on the customer experience.

Online User Reviews

There are many sites that offer user reviews that assist consumers in making buying decisions. Buzzillions is one such site and Amazon offers the reviews for products they sell. Many other retailers like Best Buy also offer user reviews for their products. The granddaddy of unbiased reviews is Consumer Reports. They do a fantastic job of linking their printed publications with their website.

Consumers are more informed today than ever before prior to making a purchase.

Daily Deals

Groupon is the biggest player but there are a lot of regional players like WagJag and Kijiji’s version. Every city has a small player also trying to gain market share offering the same type of 50% off on restaurants, spa services and art framing. You will want Deal Alert to keep track of all the deals of the day in one simple email.

FaceBook Retail

Retailers have started using FaceBook for generating retail sales and crowding reviews and trying to create a sense of community. This approach has been widely successful as statistics are showing that sales through this portal are growing. Special coupons and deals are offered to those in the friends list. This is rapidly becoming the friends influence factor.

Quick Response Code Scans

QR codes are 2 dimensionna codes. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, url or other data. . These are starting to show up on products, aisles and in printed flyers. With the ability for a Smartphone to scan a QR code the consumer has instant access to information about that product. This is another way that retailers are trying to have to advertise their products.

You Tube Unboxing Videos

The younger generation uses YouTube the way the older generation watches television. This allows consumers to search for product reviews and unboxing videos to investigate a product before purchase. Naturally, retailers have taken advantage of this in order to advertise their products through another method to reach a target audience.


Yelp is a User Reviews and Recommendations portal for the Top Restaurants, Shopping, Nightlife, Entertainment, Services and More. I have used it more for restaurant reviews but its importance is expanding and works very well in a local way.

Location Based Apps

FourSquare: This is an excellent location based application that gives you & your friend’s new ways to explore your city. It started out as more of a game where members can Earn points & unlock badges for discovering new things. I find it a bit difficult to understand why a member needs to be the Mayor of their local coffee shop but retailers are using it as another way to drive traffic to their location. Shopkick is the first mobile app that gives you rewards and offers simply for walking into stores. Their offers are extended to you while you are in the store. Check in with Gowalla on your phone to stamp your Passport at each place you visit. It's pretty much like stamping your passport in real life. This application allows users to share experiences and activities that include shopping.


This social media application is also creating brand awareness and opportunities for retailers to get a message out to consumers and to offer discounts and deals. Ivanka Trump is known to tweet out hotel deals for her Trump Hotel Collection to over 1 million followers.

Social Gaming

Farmville is probably the biggest gaming platform on the internet today. Retails have found a way to exploit the game to attract consumers and influence their buying behavior. While playing the game in your viral world you can stop by the McDonalds to get something to eat. Retailers reward the player with virtual cash that can be spent within the game environment.

Loyalty Programs

Every retailer has introduced a Loyalty Program that tracks purchases and awards points. Retailers love to create the “stickiness” but also are able to clearly track purchases and timing information in order to apply new marketing initiatives. These programs also create a sense of community and its members can get special shopping nights and discounts by using their loyalty card.

Mobile Coupons

Coupons have always been used as an important marketing vehicle for retailers. With many shoppers having Smartphone the coupon is now on the device. So you may need to show the cashier the coupon on your Smartphone screen in order to get the discount. I have not had great success with retailers stuck in the 70s that ask you to printout the email or coupon in order to take advantage of it. Retailers need to accept the virtual coupon and provide a redemption code that a cashier can enter when you make your purchase. Wireless technology has gotten to a point where they can push a coupon to your device while in the aisle.

Retailers are quickly developing m-commerce and social media based marketing efforts to connect to consumers. These new tools allow a more targeted approach to reach their consumers and to keep them informed of products and offer special discounts. In many cases a consumer will do their research before going to the bricks and mortar stores as shopping is still a physical experience for many. It is imperative for retailers who embrace the new technology to still continue to offer the old fashioned service of answering the telephone. All this new technology drives the consumer to just burp out an email asking for information and the usual response is “Thanks we will answer in 48 hours”. In this age of instant information in your hand while in the store or on your desk, the shopper is a walk away or click away of taking their business elsewhere if poor customer service is experienced. The advantage today is retailers are able to track the progress of these new campaigns in a better fashion and taking the data to offer a better customer experience.

Retail Applications for Mobility and In-Store Wireless Networks

Retail Applications for Mobility and In-Store Wireless Networks

The Retail Industry has always had an intense focus on technology to accomplish the need to increase revenues and lower costs. Wireless technology has been a great enabler to connect people and devices to resources without any wirers. This has greatly improved and dramatically transformed the business process in supply chain, logistics, and inventory management, point of sale and loss prevention. With over 50% of consumers having a wireless enabled device (tablet, Netbooks, laptop, Smartphone) with them when they visit a store it’s imperative that retailers consider the wireless network as an improvement in the customer experience. This will allow the consumer to use their devices for couponing, promotions, price che3cking and for husbands to pass time while their wife is scouring every aisle for deals. The year 2011 will be known as the year of mobile devices.

Retailers can benefit and dramatically improve their business processes in the following areas:

Mobile Point-of-Sale

The typical POS is a wired device located at the fixed cash register location. However, by using a mobile POS the store can use pop up stores within a store with its own cash desk or provide temporary cash desks during busy times. Large Box stores have a lot more room to locate temporary cash locations.

Inventory Management

Store associates can easily use wireless bar code scanners to do inventory management tasks. Store associates with handheld computer devices can check for stock and inform customers if the product is in the back or if it’s at another store location. Easy access to information can boost sales as customers are informed real-time and can decide accordingly.

Customer Service

Price Verification kiosks are a blessing for harried shoppers especially when one cannot find a salesperson in the store. These devices are always bolted on some wall or pillar and by not having to use any wiring makes them easy to set up and install. Another kiosk is the self-help kiosk that has a touch screen display making it super easy to look up products or to even find out where they are locate. “Press for Help” buttons that are wireless driven can also be used and I get a kick out of the device then transmitting onto the paging system “help needed in the wire cutting aisle”.

Wireless Voice Communication

Walky Talkys are being replaced by wireless telephones and inventory scanners that are voice enabled. Now price check are quick and easy making for faster checkouts and telephone callers can be transferred to sales agents out on the floor to check stock or to ask questions.

RFID and Location Tracking

RFID is gaining ground and is extremely useful in automating inventory management and in some cases manages loss prevention of big ticket items. Typically the tags are read when leaving the warehouse or returning to the warehouse and assist in tracking of goods, but RFID nametags can now track store personnel. If you sneak outside for a cigarette don’t’ forget to leave your tag inside the store.

Wireless Video

Video is becoming a huge tool for loss prevention personnel with the proliferation of cameras feeding back to TV screens and digital recorders. Digital signage can now be placed anywhere and simply connected to the central server. Wireless LAN speeds are fast enough to support video streaming easily.

Consumer Guest Internet Access

Retailers need to start offering internet access to its customers. How else can they connect to do price checks, simple in-store research or to obtain coupons. Location tracking has become more precise that I can be walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store and a pop up ad for “Cheerios” could pop up on my iPod Touch or on my iPhone. I don’t need to use my data plan bandwidth but can use the wifi network to its advantage. If my wife drags me out to the mall, I could sit with the retirees and enjoy a coffee while keeping busy playing on-line poker and checking out all the silly cat you tube videos. No Wifi,…No Shopping!!!

Naturally, today’s networks are safe, secure and are PCI compliant and truly do lower IT costs while helping increase revenues and the customer user experience.

John Leonardelli
Senior Unified Communications Consultant