Wi-Fi is demanding, complex – and absolutely necessary to running a business. Sufficient Wi-Fi is simply expected by employees, retail customers, restaurant and bar patrons, and hospital and clinic patients and visitors alike. But is it worth the hassle to DIY?
As enterprises outgrow the capabilities of consumer-grade Wi-Fi solutions, they are turning to enterprise-grade wireless local area network (WLAN) solutions that better meet their needs. But these solutions are complex to configure, deploy and manage.
There are a number of reasons that contribute to this complexity. Employees are increasingly mobile and want to bring their own devices (BYOD). The sheer quantity of wireless devices on the network is stretching the boundaries of the original design intent. In addition, both workers and guests want instant access to the systems and applications that make them productive while on your premises.
As a result, Wi-Fi troubleshooting has become an expensive and time-consuming task.
A survey by ZK Research found that:
- Wi-Fi is the source of 64% of reported network problems
- Almost 60% of network administrators spend more than 25% of their time troubleshooting Wi-Fi issues
- It takes more than 30 minutes to diagnose and to resolve most Wi-Fi issues
- In more than 50% of Wi-Fi problem cases, users are affected before network professionals are able to fix them
Why Enterprises Are Turning to Managed Wi-Fi
Given all these hassles, it’s not surprising that, according to a 2015 survey, more than a third of enterprises have turned over management of their WLANs to third parties. This trend is set to accelerate in the next 12–24 months, as handing over your Wi-Fi system to a trusted provider, either partly or entirely, delivers the following seven benefits:
1. Frees up your network team for more strategic work.
First and foremost, managed Wi-Fi takes a huge burden off the shoulders of your network administrators. The team doesn’t have to deal with the constant stress of minimizing network downtime and the continuous demands for access from a broad array of users both within and outside the business. They can turn their attention to matters of higher importance to the company.
2. Scales as you need it.
Managed Wi-Fi is also highly scalable. Say you have a sudden spike of traffic because of the holidays or the number of your users is growing rapidly. Your managed Wi-Fi vendor can instantly deploy additional WLAN nodes to accommodate your needs while saving you the money and resources of having to assign staff to do it internally.
3. Gives you specialized security protection.
When you’re required to keep your network open and make it accessible to large numbers of users and diverse devices, serious security gaps can appear. By working with a leading managed Wi-Fi service, you can have an expert on hand to protect your WLAN. The provider will offer a sophisticated layered security framework with centralized authentication to control network access, automatic tracking of users and devices, and wireless intrusion detection, prevention and mitigation. Many will provide MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) dual-band channels that segment private from public information and assign bandwidth accordingly.
4. Gives you visibility into your network.
By subscribing to a managed Wi-Fi service, you get visibility and control over your network. Providers will give you a centralized WLAN-monitoring dashboard, enabling you to exert both application and user-level controls. You are provided with remote monitoring, troubleshooting, configuration and even firmware management. You can also appoint trusted people within your organization to control Wi-Fi usage by app category as well as make better decisions and improve compliance by generating and reviewing timely reports.
5. Provides a better user experience.
Delight your users with smooth and seamless connectivity. Whether they are employees, guests, visitors, patients or customers, they expect instant connection to a high-performing Wi-Fi network.
6. Significantly reduces your CapEx.
With a managed WLAN service, you don’t have to make up-front hardware or software investments. Your hosted Wi-Fi provider will provide all of that, transforming your business model from a cash-intensive and complex CapEx to one based on predictable OpEx expenditures.
7. Provides you with unique insight into your users.
A managed WLAN provider will allow you to capture customer and employee usage patterns. This is particularly powerful for retailers that provide an interface between brick-and-mortar, on-the-shelf inventory and their websites. You can also enable security monitoring as managed Wi-Fi can interface with cameras to capture theft in action. For that reason, you should seek a managed Wi-Fi provider that supports secure data capture and reporting.
In recent years, we’ve seen a radical change in corporate as well as consumer culture. Employees no longer spend hours in front of fixed desktop computers. Instead, they move around and use their mobile devices as their main work and communication tools. Additionally, customers, visitors, guests, patients and other people who interact with businesses across all industries now expect high-performing and instantaneous access. If you wish to remain competitive, offering enterprise-grade Wi-Fi is no longer optional. Since maintaining an on-premises WLAN brings along a lot of costs and headaches, a managed Wi-Fi could be your solution.