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Pop-up stores: a great science experiment

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Pop-up stores can be found in nearly every mall. In addition to the fun-factor, these stores offer an opportunity to capture customer behavior patterns which can establish what works and what doesn’t, writes PATRICK MAPHOPHA of NetApp.

Enter any mall today and you are likely to come across the latest retail fad – the pop-up store. With the concept of ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ at its centre, this fresh, novel and creative concept has taken the world by storm. According a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research entitled Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy Report, the pop-up retail sector generated over £2.3 billion in turnover over the past 12 months in the UK alone. Additionally the report showed that 44% of consumers have visited a pop-up shop in the last 12 months.

South Africa is no exception, as many international brands have opened their doors in the form of the pop-up store to test the unique market and gain brand exposure. For example, a well-known ice cream brand was one of the first to set up a pop-up shop in Johannesburg, offering customers the opportunity to experiment with flavours like crumbed chocolate cupcake, mint shortcake, chocolate brownie and frosted rose petals.

Pop-up stores are so much more than trivial creativity – they are also a science experiment

Despite its ‘fun’ factor, the pop-up store is far more than just a creative, novel idea – it is also an opportunity to capture vital customer behavioural and spending patterns through an integrated cloud point. That data can establish what works and what doesn’t, and determine whether a permanent store should be established in a particular market. In other words, a new company introducing their offering in an agile way via pop-up stores can experiment with consumer confidence. If enough growth or success materializes, the steps towards a permanent location may be taken.

According to the IDC’s Retail Insights Top Ten Predictions Report, no less than 40% of new retail applications purchased will be deployed in the cloud to speed and secure business objectives in 2017. In addition, according to the Big Data in Global Retail Market Report, which was commissioned by NOVONOUS, big data in the global retail market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 35%.

The cloud has the silver lining

A smart data solution is therefore integral to make the most of the pop-up opportunity by offering management, durability and analytics capabilities. Last year, Netapp announced new updates to its solutions portfolio for the Data Fabric, an abstraction layer to improve, control and simplify the movement of data in the hybrid cloud.

One option allows shop owners, for example to massively accelerate the movement of large data sets into Amazon Web Services (AWS) for data analysis. Once processed, the analysed data can be brought back on-premises if required. And just like the pop-up shop the service can be purchased on a ‘pay as you go’ basis which means it can be easily turned on and off as needed. Other options include the ability to use the same consistent data management both on-premises and in the public cloud – meaning that data can be controlled and accessed wherever it’s needed most. And finally, once data “cools”, meaning it is not accessed and analysed regularly any more, the same functionalities provide efficient backup to the cloud to help address compliance and data protection requirements.

In short, shop owners may leverage the benefits of the hybrid cloud and analytics applications as a service to determine aspects like buyer behaviour, identify market opportunities, adapt research and development, and manage data with business value holistically. Through the provision of these dedicated applications, store owners can even go so far as to connect the pop-up store experience in real time. For example, retailers could engage with buyers at the POS.

Taking the pop-up store to the next level

Once a foundational cloud portfolio has been established, the pop-up store can be transformed into a data collection machine. A global example that illustrates this was the recent campaign launched by a pet store in the US called Barkshop Live, which specialises in animal-antic toys. In order to test their products, they invited dog owners and their furry counterparts to test out their chewable offerings in person. Data was then collected around which toys were favoured via RFID-enabled vests that were fitted around the dogs. The data collected and stored through the cloud allowed the retailer to determine the bestselling products in order to increase turnover figures.

Pop-up stores are a great way to test the market before making a total investment commitment. As customer data increases towards the brontobyte, the time to control, manage, secure and move data across on-premises and public cloud resources has never been more prevalent. The evaluation of customer data could spell the evolution of the pop-up store towards a permanent feature – whether it’s through an online domain or a traditional bricks and mortar store.

  • Patrick Maphopha, SE manager for Africa at NetApp.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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