Best Buy Innovates Brick-and-Mortar Assets to Meet Online Challenges

An article in this week’s edition of Wired describes a remarkable turnaround for Best Buy, whose stock value increased nearly 300% this past year. Best Buy values suffered terribly in 2012, despite the fact that the retailer deals mainly in high-tech consumer electronics and related goods and services. Nevertheless, the “brick and mortar” standby was losing ground to online sellers. The article describes how Best Buy has used what could have been its biggest albatross to underpin an innovative strategy that can beat online sellers at their own game.

With retail locations across the country, Best Buy is able to use its stores as mini-distribution centers to support a “buy online – ship from store” program that can offer rapid delivery of online purchases. Whether this strategy is a silver bullet remains to be seen, but for now it is an innovative use of existing assets to meet new market trends and consumer demands, and an example of “omnichannel” strategies in which retails strive to blend on-line and “off-line” shopping. Read more

Tiny Electronic Storage

IBM researchers have been able to store and retrieve digital 1s and 0s from an array of 12 atoms. The accomplishment was reported Thursday in the Journal of Science.

The significance of the finding points to developments in a new class of nanomaterials. The next generation of memory chips and disc drives will likely do more than those currently in use, but also will use less power.

Prior to this result, advanced magnetic storage required at least one million atoms to store a digital 1 or 0. This breakthrough could result in a major race among researchers and laboratories in developing smaller and smaller memory storage media.

According to IBM, this accomplishment is possible because the atoms used are antiferromagnetic. This is rare in that each of the atoms in the cluster of 12 has an opposed magnetic orientation.

For additional information and coverage, see this New York Times story.

VOTW: Supercomputer Competes on Jeopardy

And last but not least, our video of the week (VOTW).

Next month Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, will compete in the official Jeopardy contest with titans of trivia Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Last week IBM and Jeopardy offered a quick teaser of that match, with the three contestants completing all three categories at lightning speed. Not a single question was answered incorrectly, and at the end of the match Watson, who answers questions with a cold computer voice and telegraphs his certainty with simple color changes on his “avatar,” was ahead with $4,400, Ken had $3,400 and Brad had $1,200.

Engadget has a video of the match, along with an interview with David Gondek, an engineer on the project.

Have you recently seen a funny, entertaining or informational video? The New Edge would love to hear from you. Please send your suggestions for the next video of the week (VOTW) to jward@ntca.org and your video might be featured in an upcoming issue.

IBM Wants to Help Telcos Offer Cloud Services

Late last week IBM announced a new cloud services platform designed to help telecom service providers capitalize on the growing market for public cloud services, which is expected to increase to $89 billion by 2015.

The IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform is a comprehensive set of hardware, software and services to help telcos court businesses with new, pay-as-you-go services. IBM promises carrier-grade results and 99.99% service reliability.

Telecom providers will be able to use the platform to offer “as-a-service” offerings such as collaboration applications, customer relationship management services, data storage, backup and recovery, and industry-specific applications. Read more