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Cisco’s Networks Will Analyze Us

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/ciscos-networks-will-analyze-us/

Another giant of tech hardware aims to make money by selling insights.

Cisco Systems announced Thursday what it calls “connected analytics,” a mix of hardware, software and services based on sensor data. The idea is to offer rapid analysis of fast-changing information, like the people moving through a store, or beer sold in a stadium, so that companies can respond in time.

The strategy may also be a way for Cisco, which celebrated its 30th anniversary Thursday, to extract more money from the data transmission networks it has installed for customers.

Connected analytics involves a significant amount of computer processing of data near the action, on machines tied to the Cisco network. Cisco argues that this is faster and more efficient than sending everything to a central processing computer.

“Analytics is still highly centralized, but data is decentralized,” said Michael Flannagan, general manager of Cisco’s data analytics business. “There will be more and more use cases where analytics at the edge will be important.”

He cited a large retailer that tracked movements of people through its stores. When many people shopped in the frozen food section, it indicated that they were about to check out. (You wouldn’t want that stuff melting in your basket while you buy crackers.) That was a sign to increase the number of available cashiers. In the case of a soccer stadium, Wi-Fi information from cellphones could tell about people’s movements and consumption.