Innovating with UK Retail Customers

Author: Hitesh Saijpal

One of the most exciting things about my role is being able to introduce Cisco Investment (CI) Portfolio companies to our customers. Not only can our portfolio companies provide valuable insights into new markets for our customers, but many of these startups are innovating in emerging technologies that can be a competitive advantage for our customers.

On December 6th, CI partnered with IDEAL London and University College London to host a customer event at the Cisco Innovation Center in London. Together, we hosted three of UK’s leading retailers, John Lewis (a large Department store chain), Sainsbury’s (a supermarket chain), and Westfield (a Shopping center company), and introduced them to some of the latest developments in consumer mobile applications through startups such as Helpshift and Phunware.

Jordi Ferrar, VP UK Enterprise sales at Cisco, kicked off the session by sharing some thoughts on how Innovation is happening at the various customers we serve.


We then shifted to having two of our portfolio companies present:

  • Helpshift,  customer support platform for mobile apps that improves customer experience, drives higher ratings and increases retention of customers.
  • Phunware, a Mobile Application development platform,  provides location analytics and capabilities to help brands manage and monetize their mobile users.

For the retail customers in the room, it was immediately clear of the implications and the opportunities that these new technologies could have on the way they do business.

For example, retailers could use Helpshift to provide customers with immediate, live customer service, wherever they are in the store, through their own apps. Or with Phunware, retailers could discover and deploy precise, location-based advertising to customers’ phones depending on which display or section of the store they were standing in – an emerging trend known as geo-conquesting.

It was incredible to see the immediate connection between these large retailers and our CI portfolio companies. That single meeting resulted in several follow-ups, including one of the retailers inviting Phunware to come onsite to demonstrate how their technology could improve their customer experience. We also discussed the possibility of creating custom retail solutions, by having CI partner with Cisco’s Digital Transformation Group to find co-development opportunities. Our portfolio companies often tell me that they are looking for more direct customer access; events like this one in London prove how valuable these introductions can be for both the startups and Cisco’s massive customer base.

We look forward to driving more of these win-win opportunities!

Contact Us