Unlock the true potential of Wi-Fi networks beyond internet access
By Morgan Reddy, ICT Operations Manager at Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology
Access to reliable Wi-Fi connectivity has become as much a utility as opening a tap for water. Whether a business, coffee shop, healthcare facility, or educational institution, providing Wi-Fi access to various audience profiles is critical to creating a differentiated experience and leveraging the environment for tailored marketing communication.
The challenge is to deliver this in a way that does not negatively impact bandwidth while ensuring the correct access rights are given to each user type. Furthermore, the Wi-Fi network must be able to prioritise access for those who need it most. In an educational environment, this could be lecturers using the internet to present classes.
But let us face it, businesses and their employees have enough to focus on without worrying about sorting out the Wi-Fi and managing the plethora of access points spread across multiple buildings.
There are two ways to address this.
Firstly, there is a case for embracing Wi-Fi as a service. Think of this as outsourcing the management of the wireless network to specialised providers. This can be a cost-effective option that delivers scalability and ensures equipment receive regular upgrades, among other benefits.
The second option is to use an intuitive public Wi-Fi access management system such as the AVSystem Linkyfi platform.
Creating a user-friendly environment
Such an environment delivers customisable portal functionality, secure internet access, user insights, and targeted marketing capabilities. A software-driven approach means the organisation can rely on a Web-based platform for all aspects of Wi-Fi access management while benefitting from additional value-added services not generally considered.
This means creating unique portals for faculty, students, and guests in the educational environment. Users who are not logged in to the network will only be able to use free Wi-Fi to visit educational Websites and applications, thereby mitigating the risk of bandwidth abuse.
Each portal can provide the segmented audience with relevant multimedia content, social media links, and other information for their unique requirements. Additionally, the portal can be used to capture visitor information via customisable questionnaire login options while limiting access through two-factor authentication to only guests who accept the user conditions.
This means visitors signing into the portal for Wi-Fi access must consent to share personal data. Examples of this information can include age, gender, and location, along with engagement and retention rates. Using sophisticated machine learning algorithms, software can analyse this data providing real-time insights for the organisation to deliver a true omnichannel marketing environment. These can then result in personalised emails, coupons, or SMS marketing campaigns based on relevant information customised for each audience segment.
In addition to regulating access to different user types, this Wi-Fi access management system becomes an enabler in delivering proximity marketing initiatives. As the name suggests, this is where people receive marketing messages based on their location within the Wi-Fi environment of the business.
For example, when a shopper uses the retailer’s Wi-Fi network, they can get a push notification on their phone with a discount for their shopping. At a sporting event or concert, proximity marketing can translate to scanning a QR code to download promotional material or access additional multimedia content relevant to the event.
This marketing can even be managed on an access point level. In other words, identifying where on the premises the user is accessing the Wi-Fi network and managing content accordingly. For example, at a university library, sending out tips on using the catalogue system or alerting them when their reserved books become available.
A content-rich experience
Wi-Fi management is, therefore, about more than just providing an internet connection. Using the right software empowers businesses to provide a richer experience to users and optimise the environment far more effectively than merely supplying internet access.
Wireless connectivity can be an enabler to improve the overall customer experience and provide people with the necessary content and even assistance when and how required.
As more businesses turn to provide Wi-Fi as a value-added service for a variety of audience profiles who access their premises, an integrated access management system becomes a critically important marketing and customer experience tool. What is considered a business necessity - can now be transformed into opportunities for growth and profit.