In a digital-first world, where everyone uses mobile devices, your company’s Wi-Fi network takes on a much more significant role than ever before. Long gone are the days where end-users on your network could afford to wait a few hours - or days - for their computer hardware, operating system, software application, or network connection to get repaired.
No matter what industry you work in -- retail, hospitality, education, manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, professional services, or something different entirely. If your company’s wireless network goes down, your company is damaging its brand, alienating customers, and losing money.
Yes - today’s Wi-Fi is now just as mission-critical for most businesses as its utility power, running water, heating, and air conditioning.
So, keeping your Wi-Fi as fast, reliable, and secure as possible becomes even more critical. But this can be challenging for companies that only have a small internal IT team.
In this blog post, you’ll learn six reasons why smaller IT teams struggle to solve their Wi-Fi problems -- and just as important, what you can do about it. (This is especially relevant if you're part of a small IT team or lead a company that has a Wi-Fi network that’s supported by a smaller IT team):
1) Ever-Increasing End-User Expectations for 100% Uptime and Immediate Response
Google, Facebook, YouTube, Uber, Netflix, Airbnb, Spotify, and Amazon Prime have fundamentally changed the way humans behave and what they expect.
Instant gratification is the new standard. And rumor has it that Amazon is investing almost a billion dollars to increase the speed of delivery from two days to one day for most Amazon Prime deliveries in the United States.
Forget about the days of anyone being willing to wait 10 or 20 minutes in line at the grocery store for check out anymore. Or in a 20-minute line at the movie theater to buy tickets.
The shift is more profound than that.
And what does that mean for small IT teams and how they support their end-users?
Ten years ago, someone would call their help desk, report a problem, and be perfectly OK waiting anywhere from a few hours to even a day or two for the repair to happen.
Today, if someone’s tablet, laptop, or PC can’t log in, the conversation goes much like, “Hey Bob! My tablet lost its Wi-Fi again. I can’t do my job without it, so you’d better get someone over here in the next 10 minutes, or I’m going to lose it --- or at least call your boss.”
Expectations for 100% uptime and instant gratification have changed big time. It’s a lousy time to work on a chronically understaffed, overworked, and underappreciated internal IT team.
2) Ever-Increasing Application Requirements
As someone who is just about halfway between the age of a millennial and a baby boomer, I remember back to a time when some of the most popular software applications shipped on a few diskettes.
A popular word processing program or spreadsheet application was about as big as a single, relatively low-resolution photo, snapped on one of today's popular Android or iPhone smartphones. A few megabytes at the most.
Have we ever seen a time where a software upgrade, or mobile OS upgrade, which we know happens extraordinarily frequently now, actually comes out with lower system requirements than the previous generation?
Sure, some applications and OS’s do get faster over time.
But requirements around memory, bandwidth, and latency -- all things that end-users take for granted -- keep ratcheting up with no end in sight.
Ever-increasing application requirements are just another area of concern that small IT teams need to grapple with when it comes to addressing their Wi-Fi problems.
3) Ever-Increasing Security Demands
No one gets up in the morning thinking that their company's Wi-Fi network, or company in general, is about to become a victim of a cyber-attack.
It seems like almost every day there is a well-publicized security breach, ransomware attack, or denial of service incident taking a popular website offline. Or there’s some high-leverage information database getting dumped in its entirety, as plain text, onto the dark web.
How does a small IT team keep their company’s network secure while still taking care of all the competing needs of their supported end-users?
And it doesn't have to be a state-sponsored terrorist on the other side of the world or a sociopathic disgruntled ex-employee. It could simply be a desperate competitor that hired a geeky teenager to use a protocol analyzer on your unsecured Wi-Fi network to sniff for passwords into your most important databases.
How does a small IT team handle these ever-increasing security demands? It's not easy!
4) Multiple Locations
So, what happens when a severe lightning storm causes a wave of surges and power losses in three of your locations within 30 minutes? And while you are gathering details, about to hop in your car, the main location that you're leaving, has a tree fall on the roof -- which immediately causes a leak in your computer room that shorts out all your network infrastructure hardware.
So, now you have four locations and 120 end-users sitting on their hands, alienating customers, destroying your company's reputation, and blaming the IT department.
Where do you even start, to figure out if these are indeed Wi-Fi hardware failures? Or could some, well-skilled, remote tier 2 troubleshooting bring back one or more of these locations within a few minutes?
Again, this is extremely difficult for a small IT team to pull off in any timeframe that would satisfy the real business needs and mitigate the damages.
5) Lack of a Deep Bench
Now because the severe thunderstorm and isolated mini tornado didn't check with you to see if their occurrence was convenient for your small IT team, you've been caught short. Why?
Your junior network administrator, the only other person on your IT team, is out sick with the flu and isn't due back for at least another three business days.
And you're getting married on Saturday -- 2 days from now --- and need to be frantically running around dealing with packing for your honeymoon, hosting a rehearsal dinner, and all the other normal stressors that human beings have when they have a life outside of their job; and are about to get married.
Of course, you've chosen to work on a small IT team. So, maybe having a life outside of your job isn't in the cards, at least for now. Good luck telling that to your fiancé and her family.
6) No Advanced Enterprise Wi-Fi Expertise
And finally, here's the real kicker. Ten years ago, Wi-Fi was considered a nice-to-have, not so much a must-have. But that's no longer the case today.
For most kinds of businesses, if your wireless network goes down, you may as well open the cash register drawer and start shredding hundred dollar bills. Yes, downtime is that expensive!
And it gets complicated because most companies place a lot of unreasonable burdens on their IT teams to support a crazy breadth of applications without adequate staff or training in place.
So more than likely, as your company's IT manager, you likely are an excellent generalist when it comes to covering your company's most important line of business applications, and basic hardware and software troubleshooting.
But you've never really gotten the chance to be involved in designing installing and supporting enterprise Wi-Fi networks. However, your management team and end-users expect that everything with their Wi-Fi network functions perfectly, 100% of the time.
So what do you do when you have no enterprise Wi-Fi expertise on your team?
How Wi-Fi as a Service Solves Wi-Fi Problems Faced by Small IT Teams
With hundreds of installed and supported Wi-Fi networks, SecurEdge Networks knows firsthand how difficult it can be for smaller IT teams to quickly and adequately address even the most routine Wi-Fi network problems.
And that's the reason why SecurEdge Networks created its Wi-Fi as a Service (WaaS) subscription that helps smaller IT teams solve their thorniest Wi-Fi problems for good.
With an all-in-one subscription to Wi-Fi as a service, you'll get everything that you need to have a professionally designed, installed, optimized, monitored, managed, and supported Wi-Fi network:
- Hardware as a Service (HaaS) -- Get the right hardware -- based on expert, enterprise Wi-Fi design and engineering -- that provides a great end-user experience and makes you look really good!
- Software as a Service (SaaS) -- Get the benefit of cloud-based tools and resources for managing your Wi-Fi network and -- including network monitoring, guest Wi-Fi management, and weekly network health reports.
- Managed Network Services (MNS) -- Get managed Wi-Fi with ongoing support including 24/7 network monitoring and a tier 2 level support help desk.
The Value of Managed Wi-Fi and the Shift from CapEx to OpEx
Typically, small IT teams go hand-in-hand with supporting relatively small companies.
And when it comes to companies that are struggling to come up with the IT budget needed to keep their network infrastructure and end-users adequately supported, it's not uncommon to find these companies struggling to come up with the capital that they need to invest appropriately in modern, secure, reliable, network infrastructure.
In much the same way that the software as a service business model changed what it means to buy software, and shifted from big upfront expenses to monthly subscriptions, managed Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi as a service provide your company with one all-inclusive subscription.
You no longer need to decide what network hardware to purchase. You don't even need to purchase the network hardware itself. And you don’t have to worry about your Wi-Fi hardware becoming obsolete, because you get a pre-scheduled hardware refresh to keep your Wi-Fi performing at its peak. Wi-Fi hardware is all included as part of your all-in-one Wi-Fi as a service subscription.
And this whole idea is something that should bring a smile to the face of your chief financial officer (CFO). Why? Because you're shifting your wireless networking from a capital expenditure (CapEx) to an operating expense (OpEx).
The Bottom Line on How Small IT Teams Can Solve Their Wi-Fi Problems
Over the past few years, your end-users have become a lot more dependent on their Wi-Fi network. And while some things have gotten more reliable and easier to monitor and manage, in a lot of ways managing a Wi-Fi network is way more complicated than ever.
In this blog post, we looked at six reasons why managing Wi-Fi is especially challenging for smaller IT teams. And you also learned about the benefits of addressing these Wi-Fi problems with a Wi-Fi as a service or managed network services subscription.
If you oversee a smaller IT team that’s struggling with a lot of Wi-Fi problems, and you want to make sure that your supported end-users get a great Wi-Fi experience, you can’t afford to sit on this problem and hope that it goes away. Take the first step in the right direction and use ou