We live in a digital world where people of every generation want, and need, to connect. From Baby Boomers to Gen A to Z, within a nursery environment to the boardroom, and now with the rise in demand for Assisted Living Technology, quality WiFi is essential to everyday life.
Whether it’s WiFi for the classroom, your local gym, or a construction site, people expect to be able to connect to a network everywhere, around the clock, and many modern technology solutions rely completely on robust connectivity. Gone are the days of spotty, interrupted WiFi; it’s almost considered a basic human right to be able to log on, to access business or project information, or simply for pleasure.
From a business perspective, fast, reliable WiFi brings endless value.
It facilitates maximum productivity, with tangible benefits such as increased efficiency, facilitating teamwork and improving safety and security.
Businesses need to provide an effective WiFi service for their employees, but many are also expected to provide WiFi access for clients and visitors. If you are fortunate enough to have an IT department, they probably spend a good percentage of their time responding to pleas from employees to sort out connectivity issues. It’s a full-time job ensuring that the entire site remains connected, security and privacy on the network is maintained, and troubleshooting when there are issues.
By investing in WiFi as a Service (WaaS) for your organisation, this is all taken care of. Plus, there are additional benefits including reduced capital and operational expenditure, less downtime, and overall gains in efficiency.
So, with no capital expenditure, increased productivity and flexible payment plans amongst the many benefits, what’s not to like?
What is a Managed WiFi Service?
Let’s start by explaining what it means if you don’t adopt a managed WiFi service. Your organisation would need to purchase the required hardware and maintain and manage your own WiFi network. This could result in a significant capital outlay, plus you will need to maintain the equipment, upgrading or replacing it when necessary.
A managed WiFi service is a subscription-based alternative to buying and maintaining your own WiFi network (sometimes referred to in the industry as WaaS).
WiFi allows employees, students, guests and customers to connect to the internet via multiple access points throughout the building or site. WiFi as a service allows your organisation to outsource the procurement and management of all of the network hardware, together with all of the tasks required to provide seamless, secure access and a strong, fast connection to your WiFi network. Most managed WiFi service providers use cloud-based technology, meaning that they manage, control, and troubleshoot an organisation’s WiFi network remotely, removing the need for onsite IT resources.
What process should a Managed WiFi Service provider follow before quoting you for this service?
Prior to onboarding, a managed WiFi service provider should take the time to completely understand the client’s requirements. For example, what is the network being used for and what are the demands of the facility or site? They need to identify what devices will be used on site and how many will be connecting to the network at any one time.
They should conduct a full wireless survey which will review security, density, coverage, and signal strength indicators, along with signal to noise ratio. They should also investigate the site’s technical infrastructure to determine whether elements such as the power and cabling are fit to support your technology requirements. This survey should ascertain how many access points are necessary to ensure the required number of devices can access the network, and that sitewide coverage is achieved to eliminate any black spots.
What are the Benefits of a Managed WiFi Service?
A managed WiFi service is now adopted by organisations and businesses across multiple sectors, due to the many benefits it provides. From education, to construction and leisure, many of the advantages are the same.
1. No upfront capital investment
Subscribing to a managed WiFi service means that you no longer have to invest upfront capital when setting up your network. Instead you pay a monthly or annual subscription fee based on your usage.
2. Reduced operational costs
Your managed service provider will take care of all hardware and software updates, as well as upgrades, troubleshooting and support to users through a 24/7 helpdesk. Organisations no longer have the ongoing expense of dedicated IT staff to manage and maintain wireless networks, and provide support to guests and other WiFi users.
Nothing is more frustrating than an unreliable WiFi connection. From schools to businesses, it can have a profound effect on productivity and even morale. For those subscribing to managed WiFi, the 24/7 monitoring service would mean that any issues would be identified and resolved before you know about them, avoiding any unnecessary stress and costly downtime. The majority of the time, issues would be fixed remotely, with any hardware swap outs happening the next business day, avoiding any long, drawn-out manufacturer warranty processes.
4. Safe & Secure
Data is one of the most valuable commodities for both individuals and businesses, and moving to a managed service provider shifts the responsibility of network security from the business to your provider. Managed WiFi service engineers have to undergo rigorous training, and know the best practices for setting up the most secure networks and admin controls. They are up to speed with potential attacks and breaches, and it is their sole job to keep your data safe.
5. Scalable and future-proof
Because managed WiFi networks are cloud-based, it is relatively easy to increase the number of access points to follow business growth. Organisations can extend their coverage and/or easily add new connected sites with reduced hardware investments, since most of the WiFi intelligence resides in the cloud. Managed WiFi thus enables extremely agile and scalable wireless networks.
6. Fast and Simple Guest Access WiFi
7. Advanced Analytics
Modern, high-end WiFi systems come with advanced analytics. These permit organisations to learn more about their users and visitors, even if they don’t connect to the WiFi network. A device can also be tracked over time and its owner’s behavioral profile detected. Organisations can also use these analytics to monitor and evaluate the performance of WiFi services and the health of the WiFi infrastructure. These “back-end analytics ” substantially improve the level of service your managed service provider can offer.
8. Engagement Marketing Tools
These tools enable businesses to directly engage users, during and after their visit, by delivering relevant and personalised content. Organisations can further extend their brand’s presence on social media networks through social WiFi. They should be able to set up features such as automated Likes, Posts, Check-in’s and Follows in just a few clicks. Encouraging users to “Like” their Facebook page and timeline posts should also be an easy task to complete.
9. Central Management
This type of management offers control of every aspect of your users’ WiFi access across all site locations, all from a single, cloud-based dashboard. This includes WiFi onboarding, analytics, visitor traffic and marketing, among others. These centralised capabilities give an in-depth view of activity and user experience in each location, which enables better commercial decision making.
10. Optimum monitoring and reporting
Managed service providers make it their business to keep their engineers up to date on software development and the latest technology. They also have advanced tools to monitor and report on potential security breaches, speed, connectivity and network reliability.
Cloud technology solutions also provide real-time updates on security incidents around the clock. For example, you will be able to see if users are browsing sites that are a potential security risk, allowing you to block their access. This allows you to have full control over your network and tailor website access to suit the needs of your organisation.
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