As the information age continues to deliver on innovation, constant change and continuous improvement, tech journals are buried in SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and various other common technologically driven services. With connectivity binding all technology together, there’s one important service that must be considered for the future of business, retail and marketing; WiFi as a service (WaaS).
WaaS is a high speed WiFi solution that is fully managed using cloud based management systems for connectivity, as well as the configuration of the WiFi network. WaaS is supplied on a subscription basis and is considered the future of connectivity tech.
Brad Fraser, Infoprotect CEO, believes WaaS is crucial, but that it must be utilised in the right way. “Any WaaS implementation should comprise pre-built solutions for specific verticals. In the retail industry, for example, WaaS can assist companies in gathering analytics about customer interactions with technology touch points. This empowers the retail business to take action based on real information, received from real customers. The planning power that this offers is unparalleled.”
While conflicting reports exist as to whether or not South Africa is lagging behind in terms of technological advances, Fraser believes the country is ready for WaaS – and that businesses will greatly benefit from its widespread adoption.
“South African consumers have shown a large demand for WiFi, so it follows that WaaS is needed. At this stage, the question isn’t really whether or not South Africa is ready; the question is whether the service is being implemented correctly,” adds Fraser. “What is missing is the way it is being adopted, particularly by retailers. Many retailers provide the facility of WiFi and then don’t provide easy log-on methods. In the times of social media platforms, why should you still have to ask for the WiFi password?”
A staggering number of consumers are demanding WiFi as an integral part of their customer experience, and they’re willing to share their details to gain the benefits this entails. “The businesses benefit as they can now interact with their customers and share content. They have a direct line to their very specific target market – and this is something companies have been trying to achieve for eons.”
WaaS comprises wireless networking and WiFi analytics. “The wireless network includes WiFi access points and cabled infrastructure that provide access to the Internet from mobile devices,” advises Fraser. “WiFi analytics is the software layer that sits on top of the WiFi network, gathering all of the necessary data stemming from the users’ access in a highly secure way to the Internet. This allows marketers to understand the data received via the WiFi network, giving them a unique and contemporary competitive edge. With the right analytics tool, businesses gain significant insight into the movement and habits of their customers, allowing the business to reach each of them on a personal level, offering better marketing opportunities.”
WaaS offers various unique and innovative benefits, allowing restaurants, malls and businesses to offer customers free WiFi, while fostering accurate budgeting, cost control measures and the tools to manage expansion as the business grows. As with any service, choosing the right provider will determine whether or not the WaaS deployment will be a success and whether real benefit will be derived. “When choosing a provider, consider their track record, WiFi security measures utilised, the support offered and how quickly they can adapt to changing circumstances and needs,” concludes Fraser. “Beware of providers that offer a ‘low price’ (this usually means low quality hardware) and avoid those that cannot deliver cloud analytics of sufficient quality.”