A New Entry in Retail Analytics brings DPI to Wi-Fi Big Data. Welcome Fortinet!

The retail analytics space just got another new player in the game: Fortinet announced yesterday availability of presence and analytics. Teamed up with Kiana Analytics out of San Francisco, Fortinet comes to the game a little later than some of its competitors, however the power of the FortiGate UTM device makes them a formidable contender out of the gate. To learn about their product via a webinar, sign-up here/

What intrigued me about this new system was the inclusion of deep packet inspection. We have already explored what can be done with location data, analytic data, and social data. now let’s talk about deep packet inspection. One of the coolest things that is demo’d is the DPI of data streams from a customer store.

Here’s the scenario:
A user jumps on the free Wi-Fi offered at the store so that they can showroom, or shop, the store prices. For example a Kitchen-Aid mixer. Let’s say it $199 at Target, but the user uses the Wi-Fi to look it up on Amazon to see if the purchase price is cheaper .. it is: $179. The shopper decides to wait on the purchase and buy it online. As the shopper makes his way out of the store, a digital display pops-up a coupon saying “Hey man, I know you want that mixer, here’s a coupon for $20 off if you buy it now”.

How’d it happen? Why $20?

How’d it happen? The DPI component of the FortiNet device is watching and waiting for search queries from Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. When it sees a search query come through, it strips the query down, grabs the product item and the online price, compares it to the in-store price, determines if it can cut a coupon for the difference, and the waits for the customer transaction. If the customer transaction doesn’t take place (location tracking combined with dwell time at cash register location … duhhh) then it issues the coupon on the display before the user exits the store. Or pops it up on the phone. Etc. Etc.
Mixer: sold.

As a FortiNet partner, I have come to rely on its capabilities and service with almost every installation that we do. About 90% of the customer installs I perform include some type of FortiNet component. They’re great at mitigating threats, providing a secure working environment, and a centralized interface to control everything that goes into and out of the network. When you combine that with the capability to supply deep packet inspection and reporting information on retail presence and analytics, it seems like a match made in Heaven for an already powerful network device.

I think they really hit the nail on the head with this latest feature set, knowing that their customer installs are all over the place. Being able to provide this type of wireless insight on top of the existing network data is a goldmine. I just hope they open it up to allow other manufacturers access points to send data to the device / cloud service. Don’t get me wrong, I dig Fortinet but would love to have a few other AP vendors be able to feed it (AirTight, Ruckus, Xirrus, Aruba, Meraki, etc). While I’m dreaming, I’d love to see support for other devices (sensors, iBeacon, etc. be able to send data) ๐Ÿ™‚

The A/B comparison testing on Kiana is fantastic!

The analytics component that they are featuring is not a homegrown solution. FortiNet has partnered with Kiana Analytics out of depths of Silicon Valley. I had not heard about Kiana before this, so I was anxious to find out as much as I could, as quickly as I could. I had a great call with the CEO of Kiana that ran the rounds of retail intelligence, big data, visualization, actionable insights, and more. It was awesome to have that one on one time with Mr. Fathi, as I am sure his world is about to get turned sideways once the FortiNet marketing and sales teams get a hold of this and dig deep into their user database for sales.

Here are some key things that I liked about the demo that were clear standouts:

Loyalty and campaign management give you the ability to track marketing efforts with visitor performance.
Intuitive and easy to use graphs and visualizations are a key strong-point of the Kiana service.
Heat mapping of clients using RSSI with animations for traffic patterns.

In our conversation we talked about the important things that drive retail analytics and what that means to the end user. I’ll share my thoughts:

1. Visualization
Big data is great, but without the proper graphical representation of it, its useless. Store owners, specifically retail and hospitality, seem to be the prime target with wireless retail analytics. If you present them with a CSV full of numbers and percentages, you might has well turn into Beaker from the Muppets and start talking in beeps and blips. Visualizing the data and having it directly reported with little or no interaction is paramount. Don’t show me the thousands of numbers and decimal points, give it to me in a big picture that makes sense.

2. Monetization Through Actionable Items
You all have heard me use the example of understanding the customer trends and then acting out management tasks or environment changes to counteract those trends. That’s the key. Don’t just tell me that people aren’t there from 7-8, tell me what how to get them there from 7-8. This is the hardest part of all of this. Early on in my adventure with this stuff we hired a marketing professional to help analyze the data and direct the customers on what to do with the data. Take those fancy charts and graphs and figure out how to use them to drive business. The data is great, but its the action that is taken because of the data that makes the money, and that’s what pays the bills.

3. User Experience
All of the data combined can be a phenomenal way to deliver customized, personalized, and overall beautiful user experiences. Take advantage of that. When looking at a retail analytics solution, don’t just look at it for the data it can provide the shop owner or retailer, look at it for what it can do for the customer through the store. Alter the music, change the ambient color of the LED lightning, customize the menus and displays, etc. With all of this data at your fingertips and the ability to build each user visit custom tailored, offer something that no one else offers!

One of the features that I really got a kick out of was the ability to search for “VIPs” by MAC address in the system. The results below show how much time a user has spent at certain locations, either at a single store or multiple stores, and what section that user spent the most time at.

All in all, I’m excited to see this entry onto the field. As a FortiNet partner its exciting to see them doing something fun, and as a retail analytics nerd, I’m even more intrigued. This space is picking up some serious momentum and I can’t wait to see where it goes next. As was said by a friend, “I guess mobile tracking is table stakes now, time to kick it up.” I for one can’t wait!

5 thoughts on “A New Entry in Retail Analytics brings DPI to Wi-Fi Big Data. Welcome Fortinet!

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  1. I'm not sure this could get any creepier. I'd love to read the TOS on this. Back to one of my frequent stances: this is not \”free Wi-Fi\”- this is a barter that I doubt ever has it's true intrusive nature properly and clearly spelled out. But hey- I get a coupon! This trend is part of why as a consumer in Brick and Mortar Land, I will NEVER use store Wi-Fi. Would rather use up my data plan than sign into this warped \”monitize me\” mindset.

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