Light Reading
Light Reading visits Cisco's Chicago customer briefing center to chat about small cells over a telepresence screen.
SlideshowSlide Show: Cisco's Small Cell Bureau
Sarah Thomas
8/20/2013
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CHICAGO -- Cisco Systems Inc.'s Chicago office may not be as big as its headquarters on the West coast, but the networking giant's customer briefing center showcases the best the company has to offer, or connects you via its own products for a virtual demonstration.

Light Reading was given the grand tour and managed to snap a few pics. Click on the image below to launch a short slide of our visit to Cisco just outside the city in Rosemont, Ill.

Where Fashion Meets Function
Cisco doesn't share the enthusiasm for the new Fashion Outlets of Chicago, since they are blocking its entire view of downtown Rosemont, Ill.
Cisco doesn't share the enthusiasm for the new Fashion Outlets of Chicago, since they are blocking its entire view of downtown Rosemont, Ill.

Small Cells, Big Plans
Cisco is active in many different areas in the communications space -- telepresence, routers, optical networking, security, servers, VoIP, to name a few -- but we were on site to chat with Partho Mishra, VP and GM of Cisco's small cell technology group. Small cells are a relatively new area for the company, but one for which it has high hopes. (See Cisco: Multimode Small Cells Coming Early 2014 and SpiderCloud: Cisco 'Naïve' on Small Cells.)

The area that Mishra spoke about with the most excitement was the potential to monetize small cell investments through apps that rely on the mini base stations. Namely, Cisco wants to help operators track what users are doing in an indoor environment, such as a mall, and use that information to target them with real-time offers.

"We're trying to make sure the infrastructure layer is created so apps are built on top of it," Mishra explained.

It's not a new idea -- it's been in development for years, in fact -- but Mishra said small cells are making such things possible in a new way since they can pinpoint consumers' location with precision. The key breakthrough, he said, is network intelligence -- the ability to capture data, feed it back in real-time, and close the loop in 30 seconds to a minute. Cisco provides the infrastructure to do so and partners with companies to add in the real-time analysis and recommendations.

"If you optimize ads for user behavior, there is a big ROI," he said. "In real-time, it's serving up ads to end users and measuring their buying behavior. If you're able to make use of knowledge of user preferences and location and serve up information that's useful, it gives the service providers a way to make money."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/20/2013 | 7:25:16 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
How pedestrian :)
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/20/2013 | 7:18:52 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
Or, you could buy a coffee maker.
MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/20/2013 | 7:07:31 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
The examples of amusement parks and other entertainment facilities are good examples of what presence and location combined with intelligence can achieve. Before you go into a bar, mall or plan your days ride schedule, one can know how busy it is or the historical best time to go.
@jopocop
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@jopocop,
User Rank: Moderator
8/20/2013 | 6:20:41 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
The technology is rapidly expanding to send ads to mobile devices.  It seems that everybody wants in on this growth sector.  Even anybody can set up a mobile WiFi hotspot in their auto and then shoot ads to mobile devices.  The mobile hotspot patrols all the venues where large numbers of people gather, such as summer time busy beaches, or sport or entertainment events, amusement parks, etc.  I expect amazing innovations and apps and push technology to hit the markets like wild fire.  As for Cisco, no question they wll be very active and innovating in small cell technology and delivery of ads for its customers.  
MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/20/2013 | 6:12:04 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
My "Starbucks example" would be more along the lines of if every weekday morning I go to Starbucks for my coffee, they can prompt me when they see me on my way if I want my usual, and if yes they can start making it when they calculate that i'm at the optimum distance so that as soon as I walk in they can notify me that my coffee is ready at counter X and paid for with my account.

My point is that generally we need to stop thinking of LBS as ads and more of how to utilize it for services. So the question should be what would Amazon do? as they've optimized their systems to take advantage of technology to seamlessely guide their customers through a purchase.

Location is the equivelant of a browser's cookie in the real world. what would u do if your entire experience was online and interactive? If you know that answer you've solved your mobile requirements.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
8/20/2013 | 5:59:52 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
That definitely is the classic example tossed around when talking about "THE year of mobile ads." I do think promotions and coupons are a good tradeoff for giving up some personal data, like location, but the key is being truly relevant. Creative is good too -- got anything in mind? A mall is the venue that often comes to mind, but events at stadiums and concert halls are also good spots for innovative uses of location. Could make it interactive and social. So many people are already uploading videos and sharing with their friends that services to make that easier, more useful and fun would be well received.
MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/20/2013 | 4:26:06 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
Sarah, I would argue that the experience was user exerience was so horrible that they were doomed to failure. In my experience products that make your life easier and seamless that are easy to create are successful, but unfortunately that's not the way the early products were designed which doomed them to failure.

We need to stop thinking of the classic example thrown around of walking by starbucks and getting an SMS coupon and start thinking creatively. Some of the stuff coming out of smartphone apps are showing promise, although they are largely disjointed.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
8/20/2013 | 4:06:22 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
That was my thought too, Mordy. Small cells are crucial for filling gaps in coverage and bolstering service, but might as well look for ways to monetize them on top of that. Location-based services is a good example of how to. If it's done right, it could be useful for consumers too. That's a big if though. So far, most location targeting hasn't been that great, in my experience.
MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/20/2013 | 1:56:20 PM
Re: Cisco Small Cells
"We're trying to make sure the infrastructure layer is created so apps are built on top of it,"

This is a key selling point for small cells as it provides another incentive for their use even if the local coverage is great.
CACICell
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CACICell,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/20/2013 | 1:10:51 PM
Call Mgr.
Have you interfaced your 3G Small Cell (Ubiquisys) to the Call Manager?

Thanks,

Phil Ardire CACI
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