Evolution of WLAN
In a world, increasingly dependent on internet connectivity, employee productivity and customer satisfaction depend on uninterrupted Wi-Fi. Several trends are uniting to accelerate the adoption of guest Wi-Fi as a service by small and medium businesses.
Indeed, most SMBs do not have the luxury of a dedicated IT staff on board to manage their Wi-Fi. The ease of deployment and management of Wi-Fi solutions has become paramount given the number of other responsibilities the IT administrator is likely to already have.
SMBs are thus turning to Wi-Fi as a service provided by a cohort of multi service providers or their traditional carrier with the promise that no specialized IT skills will be required to deploy and manage their Wi-Fi networks.
It is no surprise then that research firm IDC expects the business-class, cloud-managed Wi-Fi market to grow exponentially to $3.3 billion by 2020, tripling the 2015 market and revealing a large market opportunity for solution providers while Dell’Oro estimates the SMB market to be worth over $1B in Wi-Fi equipment.
Why are SMBs moving to the cloud?
The advantages of using the cloud for services include unlimited data storage and computing power which can be added on demand to reflect changing needs and at a fraction of the cost of investing in one’s own hardware. Enterprises and consumers alike are increasingly relying on cloud services to meet all aspects of their computing needs. Public cloud platforms, business services, and applications (software-as-a-service [SaaS]) will grow at a 22% CAGR between 2015 and 2020, reaching $236B according to Forrester Research.
One important driver for cloud computing adoption includes a sharp decline in the pricing. Compared to the price trend of overall Computing Products (hardware and software), Cloud Computing Services have experienced a slightly sharper price reduction trend over the years. These trends have in turn made cloud Wi-Fi cheaper, easier and more acceptable in the minds of SMB owners.
Guest Wi-Fi for SMBs
As SMBs are outsourcing their Wi-Fi operations, they are also increasingly providing guest Wi-Fi as part of their normal operations. With proper guest Wi-Fi, SMBs can not only provide an improved experience for their employees and customers, they can also leverage client- and location-based analytics to learn more about their customers and more effectively engage with them.
The most effective solutions for guest Wi-Fi go beyond basic connectivity to integrate guest Wi-Fi as part of business digital strategies including the integration with their CRM and data analytics to build a solid foundation for future business intelligence.
As a result of all these trends, traditional equipment vendors such as Cisco, Aruba, Ruckus and Netgear have been under increased pressure to support guest Wi-Fi features and functionalities to their access points and wireless infrastructure. Because marketing APIs are not the “forte” of these vendors, it is natural that they established relationships with best of breed guest Wi-Fi software providers such as RaGaPa CaptiveXS.
Moreover, SMBs are cost sensitive and cannot afford to spend in multiple items including an access point, a guest portal solution, a separate firewall device, another device/proxy for content insertion etc. The solution for reducing budget for SMBs is to combine these different functionalities in one device, pre-integrated to ensure ease of deployment and preferably with excellent usability to reduce costs of support and to obviate any need for specialist IT staff. The device itself should have a reasonably low price to make it attractive to an individual SMB, as well as to chains of retail outlets, restaurants, and hospitality venues.
Bringing Guest Wi-Fi Management to SMBs with CaptiveXS
CaptiveXS from RaGaPa provides the functionalities SMBs need at the price point they can afford with:
- Device on-boarding
- Guest features, including captive portal with social login
- Content insertion to insert venue specific promoted content/advertisements on all the webpages visited by the user
- Network security, including content filtering, and discovery, management, and protection of IoT (Internet of Things) devices along with a built-in firewall
CaptiveXS allows all the features and configuration management to be done through its cloud based dashboard. In addition, analytics reports and download logs for each location running CaptiveXS can be viewed at the click of a button. Configuration changes can be pushed to all connected locations in real-time.