Wi-Fi and connectivity both have been boons to the modern workplace. On the plus side, the combination of mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, with reliable online networks, mean that the modern workplace is no longer constrained to a desk and fixed working hours in a day. This has made flexibility and adaptability the order of the day.
Today the smartphones most employees bring to work have more processing power than the computers that were on their desks 10 years ago. Corporate Wi-Fi means workers can stay connected all day long without eating into their cellular data plans, and usually from all corners of their office spaces, and even during work trips to other corporate offices.
Corporate Wi-Fi has also created a new way for retailers and distributors to communicate with employees and customers. Wi-Fi is used by warehouse workers intelligently to manage inventory, for example, to see which products to retrieve and where to send them. The deployment of smart shelves that can use Wi-Fi to update prices at the click of a button helps free-up valuable employee man-hours for more high-value tasks.
On the customer-facing side of things, high-end retailers are also offering Wi-Fi to their guests as a critical part of their engagement strategy in encouraging them to stay longer and spend more. This is especially crucial as Forrester’s 2017 CX Index is predicting that 30% of companies will see declines in customer experience performance in 2018. Companies that use technology effectively in augmenting the customer experience will have an advantage over the competition.
Mobility is about liberating the workforce from being tied to their desks; but more importantly, it is about securing this network access with strong security policies. As employees want to be untethered and work where they want, how they want, a need has been created for IT to relook at existing Wi-Fi networks. Are your office networks ready for a completely mobile office space? Can they support wireless voice and video?
For businesses that have spaces and connectivity options that cater to segments of the public, Wi-Fi technology can help with simplifying both management and security. Let’s take an education campus. The Wi-Fi network needs to create flexible learning environments to better suit the course material. The colleges and universities must engage students deeply into the campus life to stand out from the crowd to succeed. A ‘Smart Campus’ must provide reliable and complete Wi-Fi coverage within the campus with fewer APs, costing less money and with quick and easy deployment time by ensuring the security of the campus Wi-Fi network. That is to say that a Smart Wi-Fi should deliver more consistent performance at longer distances.
Whether businesses are big or small, Wi-Fi as a service, where the core intelligence, management and security policy engine is delivered from the cloud as a fully managed service, is helping build smarter workplaces. Once a network of convenience for conference rooms and coffee shops, wireless is now becoming the primary, mission-critical network for employees and their customers, and as a platform fuelling innovation and disruptive business models.
The author is Director and Country Head – India & SAARC at Ruckus Networks
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