WiFi, or Wireless LAN, connectivity has been a growing trend in the information technology sector for many years and it remains one of the fastest growing segments, second only to security (Gartner), reported 27 Caldicot, UK-based Westbase Technology.
Markets and Markets reported that the global WiFi market is expected to grow to be a US$33.6 billion industry by 2020 at an estimated CAGR of 17.8%. This is up from the $14.8 billion market it achieved in 2015.
“WiFi though is no longer just about getting places, people and things connected,” said Kelly Bell, marketing manager at Westbase Technology, “It’s grown into a valuable business intelligence tool and resource with organisations using it to better understand their customers and deliver more targeted promotions.”
In healthcare, WiFi is being leveraged for advanced applications including tracking patient movements through the facility. It is also being used for tracking important and expensive assets such as wheelchairs, beds and equipment.
Retail and hospitality companies are now using their guest WiFi to analyse how customers move through their locations; where they exit and enter, what paths they take, where they spend the most time and so on. This data enables the organisations to optimise their layout for improved customer engagement, as well as generating more personalised promotions for individual customers.
Important choices when selecting a WiFi solution
There are several key considerations, according to Westbase, that organisations need to evaluate when making the move to install or upgrade their wireless LAN service:
- Futureproof the network
Although some organisations may not yet be looking to expand their WiFi capabilities to the latest applications, the time when they will start to is not that far away so it’s important that businesses don’t just meet today’s needs. It’s also important to look for a supplier who takes the future into account, in that their networking solutions have longevity built in.
- Security is paramount
The primary factor holding back growth of WiFi networks today is security, says Westbase. But there are many solutions which answer this all-important requirement. Wireless networks are at the edge of the enterprise network by their very nature, and so are most at risk of hacking attacks and other security risks. With the right solution the network edge can be as well protected as the core.
- Don’t compromise on hardware
Many businesses are tempted to opt for consumer-grade hardware to save on cost, but often regret this later and, most commonly, have to upgrade their system again. Enterprise-grade WiFi access points and controllers are essential to ensuring that the wireless LAN delivers a solid, reliable performance as they’re built to withstand 24/7 use and the multiple workloads generated from high numbers of active WiFi devices.
- Think about total cost of ownership
Even when using enterprise-grade equipment it is still important to opt for high quality in place of cheap options – not just from a performance perspective but also from a cost-optimisation perspective. Although cheaper hardware will save money in the short term, it will ultimately cost the organisation more in the longer term. Cheap networking solutions typically cannot be managed and supported efficiently, generating high network maintenance costs.
- Solution design
Selecting the right hardware is just one piece of a wireless LAN network; it’s important for organisations to work with trusted partners who can help them to design the right overall networking solution. For example, attention to details such as density of access points or the right management approach can be the making or breaking of a successful WiFi network.
Westbase Technology has issued a guide, WiFi; It’s Not Just Connectivity. For a copy go to:
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