Cox targets retailers with edge solution

In the evolving market for enterprise edge compute solutions, Cox Communications sees its nationwide points of presence and extensive fiber network as competitive advantages. The ISP and cable giant has identified the retail sector as a promising place to start. 

“There is clear conviction that retail is on the front line of being able to adopt edge from a personalization and brand loyalty point of view,” said Sheraline Barthelmy, head of product and marketing at Cox Edge.

Use cases for the retail sector include virtual dressing room mirrors, self-checkout and smart shelves that adjust prices and promotions based on real-time data, according to Cox. 

Video intelligence is set to enable several use cases, Cox's team reported after attending the National Retail Federation’s NRF 2023 show in New York. They said cameras and sensors were in use throughout the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, as retailers demonstrated applications that use video to gather data about where customers are spending time, and which products are catching their attention. Barthelmy noted that most of the applications retailers are using seem to leverage artificial intelligence (AI).

Amir Sheikh, lead enterprise architect at Cox Edge, said retailers are combining anonymized video, geofencing and geolocation data, and AI in order to make better recommendations to customers. “AI, video analytics, operations optimization, and immersive shopping - retailers use these four to really boost their business,” he said. To accomplish this in near real-time, they use edge computing. 

“Their on-premise infrastructure is lagging behind because of post-pandemic hardware shortages,” explained Sheikh. He said many retailers want to adopt new applications that use AI but cannot upgrade their own servers as quickly as they would like to. 

“They want a quick ROI,” said Sheikh. “Retailers have adapted to the post-COVID environment. .. they have adapted to faster time to market.” 

Sheikh said retailers are looking for ways to analyze data quickly in order to understand customer needs and respond in time to make a sale. He added that when customers download a retailer’s app, edge data processing enables personalized, real-time recommendations based on the person’s buying history and demographic profile. 

Originally launched in 2021, Cox Edge comprises hardware and virtual machines combined with database, container, security and streaming analytics capabilities. Sheikh said the team offers its solution to customers as one choice among several. “We do not intend to pitch edge,” he said. “I like to hear from retailers why they think they need an edge solution.” 

RELATED: Cox announces edge compute service

Brendan Wilson, director of market activation and customer success at Cox Edge, said he’s confident there is an edge play for retailers, and added that a next step for Cox is to “better understand what we need to offer above and beyond infrastructure.” But Cox doesn’t plan to go to the application layer. “We will not develop applications around video intelligence,” said Wilson.

Wilson said Cox will extend its experience in the retail space to other verticals, including gaming, hospitality, healthcare, financial services and manufacturing.

Logicworks acqusition

Earlier this month Cox announced the acquisition of Logicworks, an integrator that helps companies migrate workloads to AWS and Microsoft Azure, and run them in the cloud. 

“They manage the workload so now we can work with brownfield customers,” explained Sheikh. “Logicworks adds value where brownfield customers want to go from cloud to edge cloud.”

Barthelmy added that Cox remains cloud agnostic, and said that’s one of the selling points for Cox Edge. She said hyperscale cloud providers are targeting large enterprises with edge solutions, but are less focused on small and medium businesses, creating an opportunity for Cox Edge.