Hungry For Secure Wireless – and Pizza!

November 8, 2012

by Mike Zozaya, Nexus Practice Manager, Security/Mobility/Infrastructure

My favorite restaurant makes great pizza, but I think they could use injection of wireless technology.  The entire process just isn’t very efficient, and that inefficiency often results in frustration for both customers and staff – and reduced profits for the owners.  Here’s what happened last Friday night:

  • Our server showed up at the table and took our order by writing it on a piece of paper.
  • The server took the piece of paper and waited in line with other servers to enter the order into the proprietary point of sale system.
  • The server must have made an entry error because instead of putting onions on our pizza, the kitchen staff added olives.
  • The server picked up our order and brought it to the table, but as noted above, the pizza didn’t have the correct topping.
  • So, our pizza went back to the kitchen (and became a loss), and a new one was prepared.
  • Meanwhile, we sat at the table waiting.
  • When the new pizza arrived, we were HUNGRY, and it vanished in a flash.   It was time for our check.
  • The server again waited in line at the point of sale machine to print out our check, then brought it to the table and left to take care of other customers.
  • I placed my credit card on the tray with the bill and waited for the server to return.
  • The server returned and picked up the check, then waited in line at the point of sale terminal AGAIN to process my credit card.
  • Finally, the server returned to our table with my credit card and my receipt.

Wouldn’t it have been easier if:

  • The server used a smartphone or tablet to enter orders wirelessly.
  • A secure, cloud-based application automatically sent the order to the kitchen and the restaurant manager and, at the same time, removed the ingredients from inventory.
  • The server picked up the order (which was correct because the server also owns a smartphone or tablet and is very comfortable using mobile apps) and delivered it to the table before customers were so hungry that they were ready to consume almost anything.
  • When it was time for the check, the customer had the option of viewing the check on the server’s device or requesting a print out of the check from a portable printer.
  • The server processed credit and debit cards at the table using a card reader attached to the smartphone or tablet.
  • Receipts could be sent to a customer email address or again printed at a local portable printer.

Using a secure wireless solution, my favorite restaurant would be able to:

  • Assign more tables per server
  • Serve more customers at peak times
  • Reduce waste due to errors
  • Track inventory in real time
  • Make their customers happier

Bottom line, my restaurant would make more money and I’d probably go there more often because I knew that I’d get great food, fast.

Because I can’t live without the good pizza my restaurant serves, there’s a good chance that I’ll be back at my favorite spot in the very near future.  But I’ll be dreaming about a place where the pizza is great and secure wireless technologies make the service fast, the orders accurate and the restaurant so profitable that they become an international chain.


Shane’s Touchscreen Keeps Him In Touch – With Everyone!

September 22, 2012

For our Director of Managed Services, Shane Roberts, everything he does – at work, or at home – revolves around communication – email, instant messaging (IM), text messaging, and the telephone.  Shane is what many might call a communications “power user”.  He looks at the things that a technology will allow him to do, then figures out how to modify the technology to fit his needs. 

I wanted to understand some of the techniques and tools that Shane uses to stay on top of things – and still get some sleep.  So, I decided to follow him around for a day.  Here’s what I learned.

6:30 a.m.:  Shane arrives at the office.  And while he’s downloading his email on his laptop, he’s scanning today’s news on his iPad.  Shane likes the article he’s found on Cisco’s Nexus switch in the Wall Street Journal, so he shares it with colleagues and customers directly from his iPad.  And, because Shane has “favorites” set up on his iPad email, he’s already responded to important customer or company email last night before he went to bed.  Now, all he has to do is scan through what’s left, and respond only to messages that need his immediate attention.

7:00 a.m.:  Shane checks his iPad calendar for the day and realizes that he’s got a full day ahead.  A customer call, an onsite customer meeting, a company conference call, and the Nexus Open House.

To prepare for the customer call and meeting, Shane takes a quick look at each company’s web site.  What’s been happening?  Have they announced a new product or service?  Has the company won any awards or have the products or services been mentioned in a newspaper or journal?

8:00 a.m.:  Time to check in with the sales teams for the customer call and meeting.  Shane uses his company IP phone to do two short video calls.  Is there anything that he needs to know beforehand?

8:30 a.m.:  Shane’s first customer call.  Shane uses his laptop, IP Phone and Nexus’ Cisco Unified Communication Manager to share his desktop and a short presentation.  I’m intrigued by the Bluetooth headset that Shane is using.   With it, he can connect to, and switch between, his IP phones (Shane has two), laptop, iPhone and iPad with a single click.  It makes me wonder if he’s actually listening to me during our telephone conversations, or if he is switching over to speak with someone else on another device.  Hmmm….

10:00 a.m.:  It’s time to run down the hall for the customer onsite.  Instead of loading up his laptop, IP phone, cell phone, pen, and paper like I do, Shane just grabs his iPad.  He uses Microsoft’s OneNote to take notes in the meeting.  When he gets back to his office, he’ll just sync up his iPad to transfer the notes to his laptop.

Shane needs some files that are only on his laptop during the meeting.  Does he panic?  No way.  He merely invokes the remote desktop app that he has on his iPad and accesses the files.  I discover that Shane’s remote desktop app can access his laptop using our VPN and the Internet as well as the company wireless LAN.

I’d been noticing that Shane’s laptop never seemed to leave his office – yet he was still getting work done on the road and at home.  Now I know how he does it!

11:30 a.m.:  Lunch, but there’s no time to go out.   Why that sneaky Shane!  He has a flat panel TV installed in his office with a Sling Box.  He’s catching up on the last episode of Sons of Anarchy while he gets a quick bite.  Now I know how I can watch some Ryder Cup matches in a couple of weeks!

While Shane is watching – and eating – he’s also doing his expense report.  How?  Using Concur, he merely takes a picture of his receipts with his iPad, then forwards them in a message to Finance.  Cool!

12:00 p.m.:  Time for the company conference call.  It’s a long one.  During the call, one of our important customers calls Shane on his second IP phone.  Shane uses his slick wireless headset to switch over to the customer, answer his question, then return to the conference call.  No one even knew he was gone!

1:30 p.m.:  Open house duty for Shane.  Customers come by the booth and ask for status on their tickets.  Shane whips out his trusty iPad and gives them updates from his Salesforce.com app.  In between, he sends some quick IMs using his iPAD’s Cisco Jabber client.  That’s when I notice something odd.  When I open another app on my iPad from the Jabber client, I get disconnected from our Unified Communications Manager.  Shane doesn’t.  What’s going on here?

Shane’s been up to something again.  He has done a “jailbreak” on his iPad.  His iPad, unlike the standard one, can run multiple apps concurrently.  Shane can switch from video or voice to Salesforce, to OneNote seamlessly.  What a timesaver!  I think Shane might have another iPad to work on very soon – MINE!

6:00 p.m.:  It’s been a long day.  Shane faced some tough questions today, and everyone seemed to want to speak with him at once.  While I was grabbing a beverage, I look around and Shane isn’t around.  Hmmmm…  I head back to his office, and there he is.  Hey!  What’s that on his dual wide screen monitors?  That looks like Need for Speed Hot Pursuit!  It IS! 

Shane’s in his office relaxing from a stressful day.  O.k., but, I’m still wondering how he got the Xbox 360 in here without anyone knowing about it!

6:30 p.m.:  Shane’s out the door – with his iPad. 

So what did I learn during my day with Shane?  That there are lots of ways to use communications and other technologies to help us get things done.  And, that taking a break and having a little fun during the day, only helps to make us happier and more productive.

For Shane, his iPad is the hub that keeps him connected to all of his devices, applications, and most importantly to his customers and colleagues, friends and family.  Shane’s iPad touchscreen definitely keeps him in touch – with everyone!


3 Statistics to Make You Think – Round 1

October 25, 2011

Earlier this year, we compiled a short video to highlight how pervasive technology has become. This clip is the first in a series of excerpts from that video. Each one contains some fairly startling statistics, and all of them will make you think. Is your network ready? 


Work is What You Do, Not Where You Are

April 20, 2011

Borderless OfficeI was talking to the publisher at a major media outlet a few days ago about ideas related to “The Modern Office.” Ironically, the first thing that came to mind for me was that the “the modern office” doesn’t necessarily include an actual office anymore. With borderless networks and secure wireless access, more employees than ever are working remotely.

In “Wanted: Business Mobility Strategies” (Channel Partners, Apr 2011) there’s an interesting discussion about the growing need for IT to support devices of all types – personal or company-issued. But a complete strategy needs to take into account not just hardware and anytime, anywhere access, but also the business rules and policies to support genuine mobility.

Security should be a primary consideration factor in designing a wireless strategy. What devices are allowed to connect to the network? Should roaming or hotspot access be allowed? To what degree are device features allowed and which, if any, must be disabled? Obviously, data security plays a key role in establishing these procedures and policies.

According to the Cisco Connected Technology World Report, three out of five workers around the world believe that they do not need to be in the office anymore to be productive. In fact, their desire to be mobile and flexible in accessing corporate information is so strong that the same percentage of workers would choose jobs that were lower-paying but had leniency in accessing information outside of the office over higher salaried jobs that lacked flexibility.

The same Cisco study showed that two-thirds of employees surveyed (66 percent) expect IT to allow them to use any device – personal or company-issued – to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere, at any time. For employees who can access corporate networks, applications, and information outside of the office, nearly half of the respondents (45 percent) admitted working between two to three extra hours a day, and a quarter were putting in four hours or more.

With potential productivity increases in that range, it’s clear that companies need to consider and develop a mobility strategy sooner than later.


Best Practices and Borderless Networks

September 1, 2010

We work, live, play, and learn in a world that has no boundaries and knows no borders. We expect to connect to anyone, anywhere, using any device, to any resource–securely, reliably, transparently. That is the promise of borderless networks.

In today’s connected world, business systems and processes are built to take advantage of the network. And just as business systems and processes are unique to individual customers, so too are their networks. Special network service requirements can be dictated by customer business model, or industry pressures, or geographic location, and on and on. The key to long-term savings is to design a network that ensures the effective and efficient delivery of premium service, no matter what the location or application.

Extensible systems and integrated services combine to multiply the value of the borderless network. Cisco’s wide-ranging portfolio allows freedom of choice for the customer. Designed-in hardware assists and a wide range of network and service modules help ensure that the network not only delivers rich services, but also provides consistent performance when services are turned on. Consistent services and common components also enable cost savings and operational efficiency.

Operating expenses typically account for 75 to 80 percent of the networking budget, so it makes sense that operational efficiency promotes the greatest network-related cost savings. Management expertise, policies, and best practices must all be applied across the network.

Beyond network-related capital expenditures (capex) and operating expenses (opex), you should also be mindful of costs that can be directly influenced by the network. For example, downtime results in lower productivity, customer dissatisfaction, and lost revenue. Underutilized resources result in overspending on systems and support.

Networking devices that support multiple services (for example, connectivity, security, voice, mobility, and so on) eliminate the need for specialized devices and reduce network complexity. Service intelligence and modular designs also extend the service life of equipment, protecting your investment over time. The result: capex and opex savings.


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