Over the past couple of years there has been a tremendous amount of media attention on the concept of digital transformation. A digital enterprise is able to collect data in real-time, analyze the information, and then act on it to gain a competitive advantage over its peers. The organizations that can’t make this shift will struggle to be competitive.
I’ve long felt that the Wi-Fi network should be considered the foundation for the digital enterprise. Why? For many verticals, such as K-12, healthcare, retail, and higher education, Wi-Fi is how customers, patients, clinicians and students will interact with the organization. The Wi-Fi network knows who a person is, where they are located, what application is being used, and has some understanding of what the user is doing. Also, if the information from the Wi-Fi network is combined with other data and analyzed, the result can be used to make real-time decisions and offer differentiated services.
This week, Aerohive announced something it is calling a “Connected Experience Platform” (disclosure: Aerohive is a ZK Research client). Aerohive’s solution is built on the company’s cloud networking architecture and is designed to enable businesses to harness the potential of Wi-Fi by providing data, analysis, applications, and new insights into the connected experience.
Most product announcements from Wi-Fi vendors revolve around the release of access points (APs), but Aerohive’s announcement included everything but APs. The first component of the platform is a new release of the HiveManager Next Generation (HiveManager NG) network management application. The product allows customers to perform management tasks to the wireless network from anywhere at any time. Through the GUI interface, network managers can deploy networks quickly, implement security policies, or gain visibility into the applications running across the network. One of the unique attributes of HiveManager NG is that the cloud and on-premises solutions are built on the same architecture. This means customers can use it via the cloud in a small deployment and then seamlessly shift to an on-premises later if the business requires it.
Another element of the platform is a simplified solution for guest access and personal device on-boarding. Complicated guest access has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Having customers, students, clinicians and others connect to an organization’s guest network provides a tremendous amount of value, as the traffic can be monitored, usage patterns can be studied, and better decisions can be made regarding how the guests are handled. For example, retailers can use guest information to push personalized coupons. Or hotels can use the information to suggest local attractions to guests. Given the value to the organization, why make it difficult for a guest to attach to the network?
Aerohive’s solution is part of the HiveManager NG suite, so there’s no additional charge to its customers. It also supports a wide variety of guest workflows, such as self service, receptionist-enabled, or kiosk.
For the worker of the company, Aerohive has streamlined the process of on-boarding personal devices. The product integrates with the existing Active Directory for employee verification and enables employees to connect their own devices without requiring any IT support. Without a self-service tool, the on-boarding process can consume anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of IT support time. In large businesses, this can be crippling to the IT organization.
Lastly, the Connected Experience platform includes support for APIs, which is supported through a developer program. Businesses and ISVs can leverage the APIs to build integrated applications that can offer new customer experiences. For example, in retail, the APIs can be used to understand how customers move through a store and, with the use of analytics, can create proximity-based promotions.
In actuality, Aerohive currently has a number of third-party providers, such as Cloud4Wi, Euclid, and AirWatch, that already leverage the APIs. Aerohive has now formalized the developer program to create greater scale and more solutions for its customers.
The digital business era is now here, and it’s critical that organizations create new experiences that leverage the wealth of data made available from the wireless network. Aerohive’s Connected Experience Platform can be used as a foundation for digitization.