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Cisco CEO John Chambers at Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2014
Cisco CEO John Chambers at the 2014 Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. Photograph by Stuart Isett — Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Cisco, GE bet big(ger) on big data

Dec 15, 2014

Cisco is embarking on a new mission to sell analytics services using information gleaned from devices connected to its networking equipment—everything from smartphones to cameras.

The ambitious plan is part of Cisco's "Internet of Everything" strategy—its desire to see its technology become the connective tissue helping businesses (or anyone else for that matter) gather more information about virtually every piece of equipment or technology relating to operations. For Cisco CEO John Chambers, who has held his position for more than three decades, the launch could become a defining moment in his legacy.

"It's the one piece we were missing," Chambers said told the Wall Street Journal prior to the introduction.

Two of the first customer segments targeted with the new product portfolio, called Cisco Connected Analytics, are retailers and event organizers.

For example, a store manager could correlate information collected from video cameras tracking shoppers with inventory data to ensure that shelves are stocked adequately. An event manager could monitor wireless network traffic to help make decisions such as which concession stands in a stadium might need more staffing or extra hotdogs.

"With Cisco Connected Analytics for Events, we will be able to better understand our supporters' behaviors and actions immediately and deliver them an enhanced match experience. For example, we will be able to offer specials to fans at the newest concession stand based on previous purchases or deliver video highlights and statistics of their favorite player as the action unfolds on the pitch," said John Ola Bergaplass, a chief technical strategist for Norsk Toppfotball, a Norwegian soccer league.

Cisco (csco) is also selling services that could help with businesses and service provides with networking planning and maintenance, a strategy similar to the "Industrial Internet" plan embraced by General Electric four years ago.

GE now generates $1 billion in incremental revenue annually from the predictive maintenance and equipment optimization services made possible by its Big Data analytics technology.

So far, GE's focus has been on sectors where it has strong customer connections—aviation, power generation, health care, railroads, and oil and gas exploration.

But this week, GE (ge) revealed that it is assembling a network of business partners that can bring the same capabilities to other sectors. Its first ally: Japanese telecommunications SoftBank, which will bring analytics to manufacturing and shipping.

GE executive William Ruh told The New York Times: "We have a generic capability for insight and optimization here. [The potential market is] any business with a piece of equipment you are trying to optimize."

This item first appeared in the Dec. 12 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.

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