New Era of IoT-Enabled Retail Launched

The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota, Florida, the first new enclosed mall to open in the U.S. since 2012, differentiates its retail space based on superior connectivity, helping stores and restaurants merge physical and digital sides of their businesses to create new customer experiences.

The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota, Florida, at its opening  in mid-October. It’s the first new enclosed mall to open in the U.S. since 2012. Superior connectivity differentiates the retail space, helping stores and restaurants merge the physical and digital to create new customer experiences.

The Smart Mall, as realized by Taubman Properties under the technical direction of CIO/CTO Michael Osment, is a particularly advanced variety of the Intelligent Building. “Connectivity is not an afterthought in the design of a Smart Mall. It is the driver,” explained Osment when interviewed by Realcomm’s Jim Young today. Taubman’s new $315M mall in Sarasota was designed on the premise that connectivity is the key to 21st Century physical retail success, not the enemy. Here’s Osment’s description of a few of the Smart Mall’s differentiators:

It started with just wanting to be able to provide free Wi-Fi to our customers. We considered how best to do this, and we ended up putting in a complete fiber-optic backbone.  We have continued to build on top of that over the last few years. With this bandwidth capacity, we’ve been on a data kick. We’ve invested in the capabilities and hired and nurtured the skill sets among our building operators. As a first step we’re rationalizing our energy, taking an ERP approach. We know how energy data is aggregated and to what degree it is accurate. We use this data to improve building operations and for compliance. This is an exciting journey. Savings through energy management will pay for the consumer wi-fi. That is just the start.

We have built a platform upon which we can build new services. We’ll be integrating location services in everything. For example, free parking to a loyal customer. Restaurant reservations will be more precise because the schedulers will know where people are and approximately how long it will take for them to arrive. Smart Mall will enable just about everything we are going to do. It’s a new e-commerce platform.

In a complex world, the key is to strive for simplicity. Previously one of our malls would have 8 to 10 different networks. With this Smart Mall, we’ve collapsed them onto a single backbone. This means a single point to secure rather than a bunch of points. A hacker may see a mall’s big digital sign as an inviting target. So we can isolate that network. By starting with a solid IT infrastructure, we can take a systems architectural view of security, rather than point solutions. We’re able to enforce an IT-type discipline and protocols into facilities. 

You can read more about the Taubman Smart Mall concept in this Realcomm Advisory.  

It’s a cutting edge example of the new paradigm explained by Memoori Market Researcher, James McHale:

“The emergence of data-driven value should alter the value equation and with potentially game changing implications. Under the new scenario:

Total Value = old operating cost – new operating cost + new opportunity value through the convergence with the business enterprise.

Memoori has a new report out investigating how building owners and operators will get a return on their Internet of Things investments.

I wrote about Apple’s iBeacon at retailer Macy’s last Christmas season.  Taubman’s Smart Mall is what needs to happen to continue to support this type of inevitable mobile technology.

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