Wi-Fi takes connectivity lead
Shopping centres, sports stadiums and universities, are all starting to offer customers Wi-Fi connectivity to improve customer engagement. This also aids productivity within their business environment.
Wi-Fi is already becoming one of the principal sources of internet connectivity, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index. This report suggests Wi-Fi will account for more than half of the world’s internet traffic by 2016, thanks to a rapid proliferation of mobile devices, and the increasing presence of Cloud applications.
Cisco also predicts 15 billion mobile devices will be active globally by 2016 – that’s two devices per person – and by 2020 as many as 50 billion wireless devices will be in circulation.
Many businesses are already taking advantage of the popularity of wireless connectivity to enhance customer engagement and boost revenues. In 2013, the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust announced it would supply free Wi-Fi at the Sydney Cricket Ground as part of a broader digital strategy. The offering will ultimately let fans order tickets, buy food, access statistics and bet on games without leaving their seats.
The level of integration with social media is remarkable – businesses can get customers to sign on via Facebook to connect
SCG Trust General Manager Piers Thompson told the media the strategy was designed to enhancing the experience of fans, and help boost ticket sales.
“What we have to do is personalise the experience for people that are coming here to watch our events,” Mr Thompson said at the time. “It’s that age-old saying: you are competing with the experience of watching in your living room, so we have to make it worthwhile for people to come here.”
In a similar vein, Tourism Victoria is spending $350 000 to create a new Regional Cooperative Marketing Innovation Fund to pay for projects such as free Wi-Fi networks in popular locations. It’s also creating relevant mobile applications and mobile-optimised websites.
“Consumer behaviour in accessing tourism information has changed dramatically and the increased use of digital media has meant that tourism regions need to incorporate this activity into their marketing campaigns,” Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher says.
Tourism Victoria also runs a series of marketing campaigns for a new digital platform as well as social media campaigns, all highlighting popular attractions, providing visitors with access to high quality information.
Increasing engagement for success
According to Aaron Leung, General Manager for Telstra’s Managed Network and Integrated Services Practice, free Wi-Fi offerings are increasingly built around digital engagement models.
“It’s not just about saying, ‘I’m going to offer you Wi-Fi and hope that you stay’, it’s now about integrating the Wi-Fi connectivity into the social landscape so that businesses can interact with their customers.”
According to Leung, the impact is being felt across every industry as corporate customers move to take advantage of improvements in Wi-Fi technology plus the reduced complexity and falling costs associated with its implementation.
“Previously rolling out Wi-Fi technology was quite a complex and costly process,” Leung says. “Not only did you have to work on positioning the access points to maximise coverage, but there was also a separate software layer required to manage the network.”
Wi-Fi offerings can be deployed on a customer’s premises, or through a cloud configuration, which effectively enables them to be remotely managed.
The result is a low maintenance Wi-Fi networks, which can be deployed across just about any environment, and the businesses can focus in a more strategic way on deploying innovative applications.
There are business cases for every sector of the economy, and the opportunities are only limited by the creativity of the applications, which are of course constantly evolving
Retailers globally have been early movers to create innovative applications, from virtual loyalty cards that remember past purchases to map modules that take you straight to the product you’re seeking.
“The key discussion around Wi-Fi has moved away from how Wi-Fi can save you money to adopting strategic approaches around how Wi-Fi can be used to expand the business and it’s prospects,” Leung says. “The level of integration with social media is remarkable – businesses can get customers to sign on via Facebook to connect.”
Easy and affordable Wi-Fi technology will also have a significant impact in internal communications settings as it provides ample opportunity for collaboration and automation of processes. It also creates opportunities to gain insights into customer preferences and behaviour.
One example of this is the “Os”, or iPod Touch devices used by visitors to Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art. When a visitor arrives at MONA, they are provided with an “O”. The device provides visitors with information regarding the exhibits, enabling them to travel through the exhibition at their own pace, double back or speed past different exhibits in their own time. Thanks to Wi-Fi the Os are not only able to deliver information regarding each exhibit, but they can also provide location information of visitor’s, providing interesting feedback on the popularity of different exhibits. Visitors can then get a copy of a map of their movements through the gallery either via email or through the MONA website.
“Although we usually think of Wi-Fi as a way to supply information, it can also be used as a way to use location information to improve the onsite experience of customers,” Leung says. “There are business cases for every sector of the economy, and the opportunities are only limited by the creativity of the applications, which are of course constantly evolving.”
For businesses that want to gain the full benefits of a corporate Wi-Fi system, such as security, in-depth analytics, location awareness and application integration, a corporate grade Wi-Fi system is required. One that is fully integrated into the business’s enterprise network environment, as this level of functionality and security cannot be expected from a public Wi-Fi system.”
This corporate investment will only be enhanced by the recent Telstra announcement for the intent of developing a Wi-Fi nation which will provide the opportunity to extend connectivity to your business beyond your premises, albeit without the corporate grade functionality and analytics.
- The cost and complexity of Wi-Fi implementations has been significantly reduced thanks to technological improvements.
- Mobile wireless devices are booming. Cisco predicts 15 billion mobile devices globally by 2016 and 50 billion by 2020.
- Corporate WiFi functionality such as in-depth analytics, location awareness and application integration is enhancing both the employee and customer experience.
For more information and how Telstra technologies can benefit your business, visit our site or speak to your Telstra Account Executive. We offer various solutions that are backed by the latest Cisco technologies, provide end-to-end visibility and 24/7 support.