WiFi as a Service: A Game-Changer for Businesses in 2018
The traditional piecemeal approach to providing WiFi doesn’t meet the challenges of tomorrow, or even today for that matter. As businesses take on the challenge of WiFi planning for 2018, more and more of them will look to a turnkey subscription-based model of purchasing the hardware, software, and managed services necessary to deploy an enterprise-grade wireless network.
Fast, secure, and reliable WiFi doesn’t depend on just one, but many network infrastructure components, engineered precisely to meet performance and user expectations. And it requires ongoing management and support to keep things running at their best.
WiFi as a Service combines all of these elements and packages them into one monthly subscription.
Let’s talk about some of the wireless industry trends we’re seeing, the challenges they present, and why purchasing WiFi as a Service is the easiest way businesses can solve them heading into 2018.
Trends and Challenges
Somewhere along the way, we started to expect anytime, anywhere WiFi access. We’ve all been guilty of Veruca Salt–like huffiness when we find ourselves without WiFi, whether it’s in a waiting room, restaurant, store, or office.
Greater dependence on WiFi means bigger disruption and annoyance when we don’t have access to it, or when it’s frustratingly slow.
Increasing numbers of devices
According to the most recent Mobility Report by Ericsson, by 2020, there will be roughly 6 billion smartphones in use. In addition, Gartner forecasts that by 2020 there will also be almost 21 billion IoT devices in use worldwide—that's a lot of connected devices!
The continued boom in number and type of connected devices demands that wireless networks keep up, by designing for capacity and future growth.
Speed at which technology is changing
Let this sink in: It’s only been ten years since Apple first introduced the iPhone. Ten years, in the grand scheme of human history, is not even a blink. And yet smartphones have completely changed the way we live, work, socialize, and entertain ourselves in just one decade.
Meanwhile, the life cycle of mobile devices has shortened: in those ten years, Apple has released over a dozen generations of iPhone! See the graphic below:
This short life cycle means wireless infrastructure has to be refreshed on a regular basis to support the newest devices hitting the market.
The next big technological waves—such as automation, the Internet of Things, and augmented reality—are here, and they’re only going to become more prevalent.
It’s exciting and daunting to imagine what the next ten years in technological advances will look like, but one thing is clear: WiFi connectivity is key, and that means wireless networks need to be thought of as a utility and not a “nice to have.”
Increasing complexity of our networks
Supporting anywhere, anytime wireless connectivity on any device by anyone has fundamentally changed how we design, deploy, and manage our networks today.
As opposed to owning all of the devices on your network and controlling every aspect about those devices, businesses today have to figure out how to control what they don’t own—all while providing a fast and secure user experience.
To do this, we have to build our networks to control the behavior of who or what is accessing those networks, and that makes things a whole lot more complicated.
Dollars and Sense
Facing the upcoming technological challenges means businesses need to be nimble and forward-thinking, and they can’t afford to get bogged down by huge up-front networking costs.
This traditional CAPEX model of purchasing WiFi simply doesn’t align with the trends we discussed above.
That’s why WiFi as a Service, as an OPEX, allows businesses of all sizes to purchase their networks in a more cost-effective manner, freeing up capital for other mission-critical projects and allowing businesses to focus more on their business and less on figuring out their network.
When it comes to WiFi, it’s just as important how you buy—through a subscription vs. a large capital expense—as it is what you buy—the networking components, software, etc.
Too often we’ve seen companies spend tons of money on high-end wireless equipment only to find that their WiFi performance still falls short.
Smoothing out the cost over time via a subscription, with the added benefit of skilled wireless engineering and ongoing support, is the smarter choice.
WiFi planning, deployment, and management are massive tasks that can eat up a disproportionate amount of resources from your IT department.
There’s an opportunity cost to researching the right wireless products, installing them, monitoring them over time, and troubleshooting them when things go wrong.
Trying to keep all of these tasks in-house is simply not going to work for most businesses, either from a technical perspective, resource perspective, or both.
Heading into 2018 and beyond, it’s crucial for business leaders and decision makers to embrace this newer model of purchasing WiFi.
Companies who stay nimble and make this shift will have an edge compared to their competitors who are reluctant to embrace new technologies and ways of supporting them.
From multi-location businesses, to SMBs and enterprise companies, subscriptions offer a variety of benefits over the traditional CAPEX model, including:
- No large upfront capital costs
- Simple monthly payments
- Ongoing management for the life of the network
- Seamless transition when your network needs to be refreshed
- Enhances the user experience by adapting to changing devices and expectations
- Built to simplify your operations—your wireless is now like other utilities
- Allows you to reallocate capital to be used on other mission-critical projects
Think of WiFi like other services you're probably already using, for example, Office 365. Buying on a subscription means you're purchasing a platform where the hard work has been done for you and everything you need from a wireless networking and security perspective is provided, maintained and ready to grow with you.
Dana Adams blogs regularly for SecurEdge and other tech companies. She believes technology should serve people, not the other way around. When she's not blogging, you'll find her enjoying the outdoors with her family and two rescue dogs.