Meraki Fast-Forward: Mastering the New World Together (Q&A Panel)

Published on
November 15, 2022
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This is a recording of the session "Culture, Innovation & the Smart City" at Meraki Fast-Forward: Make every space a sustainable smart space event in Singapore, 6th July 2022. Brought to you by Cisco Meraki.

Industry experts from Cisco Meraki, meldCX, PlaceOS, and SES-imagotag weigh in on the future of smart spaces technology and keys for a successful, fail-proof implementation.


  • Karrie Ilagan - Managing Director at Cisco Meraki for Asia Pacific, Japan, and Greater China
  • Joy Chua - EVP - Strategy & Development, meldCX
  • Sabrina Venish - Chief Operating Officer, PlaceOS
  • Steven Largent - Sr. Manager, Innovation & Business Development APAC, SES-imagotag


[00:00:00] Karrie Ilagan: I really use this portion of the day to bring about each of your call to action. Is that fair? Is that good? Okay. So, but I'll do it in a way where, you know, I'll ask you a question if you can just briefly respond to it with keeping in mind, it has to be along the veins of, you know, what is our call to action to our audience today.

Okay, maybe I should start with Joy. Joy, this is something so different. So it's not a direct call to action statement or question to you. I just felt that, you know, I needed to ask this and I figured you'll be the best person in this group to respond to it. Many people are a bit worried about AI and machine learning, and the concern is really coming from.

You know, will it replace human interaction in the future? So how do you, how will you respond to that and what will be your call to action?

[00:01:01] Joy Chua: Definitely, I think throughout this session you know, be it Professor Jason, I think Charles talked about it as well, and I think there were a couple of questions, especially to the team about human interaction, you know, digitalization. How does it take away from the experience?

I think for myself, I think I'm both a realist and a stubborn optimist, so really it's because of my Singaporean background, I think. It is going to happen whereby, you know, AI already has a prominent feature in what we do day to day. And I think we can't help that.

You know, it's, it's just going to be more advanced as we go on. But I think the stubborn optimist in me believes that as humans, we always have the potential to be adaptable. And I feel that, you know, with what Professor Jason was saying as well, I think, lot of socio-political factors will also come into helping us shape this with things like regulation, with things like you know, making sure that we're hitting the outcomes.

And so I don't think that there's a cause for worry. I think we can put the relevant guard rails around with, you know, legal stuff or even, you know, as we evolve, we'll definitely be able to understand and start thinking more. 'Cause we have that question a lot. Like when we do AI and you know, in our presentation before we talked about serving up the right content to the right person.

I think that as more of that happens, we'll also be trained to start thinking outside the box more. So I think as a call to action, I think we will always talk to you about being outcome focused and I think that's the one way that we can do and make sure that technology works for us.

[00:02:36] Karrie Ilagan: Great, thanks Joy.

Sab, how do you suggest customers approach smart spaces, design and automation? Spoke a lot about automation today.

[00:02:49] Sabrina Venish: I did, yes. I think the most important thing when we're talking about automation is starting with defining the problem statement and keep it user experience focused. So we've learned about so much incredible technology today, and if we all walk away and purchase all of it, we're at risk of not really implementing it correctly or not getting the right ROI.

So, the most important step is to firstly, understand who are your user stakeholders? Are we designing technology for employees, for visitors, for, you know, facilities managers? And then work out exactly what it is we want to deliver for them.

Is it a better meeting room experience? Is it an enhanced workplace experience? Is it a better, you know visitor check-in process?

And then come back to the data and the technology specifications that can allow us to actually do that. So, if we follow that simple process of understanding the user journey, defining the problem statement, and then coming back to technology, then the implementation will follow and it'll be really simple from there.

[00:03:45] Karrie Ilagan: Good, thanks.

Steven. Retail, I didn't realize that, you know, the colors and the tags actually matter, so I learned something really good today from you.

Hey you know, we spoke about different retail applications Many things, how retailers can become digitally transformed. Can you share with us today and how will you advise a retailer willing to start a digital transformation journey?

[00:04:14] Steven Largent: Sure. Well, it's true. As I mentioned before, currently we really see a strong momentum on retail transformation. I think the first reason being, as mentioned, the pandemic that have really changed the way the stores are operating on a daily basis. But secondly also about maturity. I think maturity of the technology which have been tested already by many retailers around the world and now retailers considering those technology really see that it works and it is providing benefits.

So in terms of advices, I think the first one would be to have an overview of the store's digitization, not seeing immediate outcomes, not seeing laser focused benefits. Really seeing what retailers are trying to achieve. How can they put the bricks together to really have an efficient store digitization.

Looking at the ecosystem. So if we think of of going back to SES-imagotag, is to look at the platform. They can create, for example, Cisco Meraki and SES, fully integrated. Then they can also have the traffic measured by the sensors of Meraki. Everything from one single dashboard . So really looking at the long term rather than just immediate outcomes.

[00:05:49] Karrie Ilagan: Yeah.

[00:05:50] Steven Largent: And I think the second one it would be, from our experience, would be also to make the transformation step by step, starting with the basics and then elaborating slowly. Not taking everything at the same time between having the first KPIs done. Okay. Then the second and so on. 'Cause sometime having everything at the same time can lead to failure which we have seen.

[00:06:16] Karrie Ilagan: Thank you

James, now I get to ask you that question.

[00:06:22] James McKee: Excellent. My turn?

[00:06:23] Karrie Ilagan: Yeah, it's your third response. Hey, we've been talking about how Meraki simplifies IT and IOT. You spoke a lot about that today. You know, in practical terms, how do customers set about using Meraki Toolkit alongside our partner ecosystem to deliver valuable smart spaces outcomes.

[00:06:48] James McKee: That's a very good question, and I guess it's something I chat about every day with my customers. But I guess there's a couple of themes I'd like to share. And I think the first thing is defining what success needs to be, I think is definitely one of the, probably the most critical components.

I see a lot of conversations progress whereby, you know, customers think they know the outcome that they want and there's nothing wrong with that. That's a great starting point. But I think it's important that they engage the broader stakeholder group that, first of all, might be sponsoring a particular initiative.

Make sure they actually have a voice in the process. And make sure there's, I guess, acceptance around the problem statement. I think that's the first piece. And I think that being defined up front will help get to a successful outcome faster. But then it's about, okay, extending that.

So if we talk about smart spaces, one of the things we spoke about today was having some sort of platform to provide the outcome. Now some customers may not have that in place, so we might need to put a, you know, program of work in you know, in place to actually get there, get to the basics first, or get that baseline infrastructure in place so we can look to build on top of that.

So the way I like to call it out is I, I use the old term, a good old gap analysis and actually work out where are we at, where do we need to go, and what are the gaps in our process? I think once we get that piece defined, it's quite easy to work out then who the stakeholders are we need to support through that journey.

And then it's what is inside the ecosystem and then it's what is outside the ecosystem. So what can we do within the platform? And an example of that might be if we look at, say let's focus on cameras. Cameras as I talked about today on a number of occasions, can detect things like people and vehicles natively.

They can also do things like heat mapping. But that's I think to, to kind of paraphrase Sabrina's point around UI and UX, that's, that's a UI driven piece. And you need to kind of then do something with that data.

So then it comes to, well, hang on, what's the experience? What's the smart space? What's the automation that I wanna drive?

And that's when typically what we'll do is say, well, we've got a whole range of ecosystem partners that we can work with to get particular outcome. These are the groups that are specialized in this space, and these are the groups you should engage with and work with as a team. So we work in partnership to then drive a particular outcome.

So I think getting those things right up front becomes super important. I think in the long run, it gets the customer to a valid outcome more effectively. It saves time.

And I guess the last point is be prepared for requirements to change. Because as customers learn on this journey, what they often find is you know, they identify new problems that they haven't seen to begin with.

So it often becomes a broader scope we have to address as we move forward. That are probably the key things that I would look at.

[00:09:20] Karrie Ilagan: Thank you. So, yes, because things continue to evolve still.

Yeah. I guess the last thing for me is before we really wrap up and go to the raffle, is when we think about building more smart spaces and or redesign more smart spaces, I think we really need to thank sustainability first, whether it's social, cultural, and especially environmental.

So again, I just wanna really give a huge thanks to our panelists and our speakers for today. So our partners, thank you very much.

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