APIs + Cloud = Better Guest Wi-Fi experience

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With the rapid proliferation of wireless devices in the last few years, Wi-Fi has become an absolute necessity in the home, the office and the public space. According to IDC, the enterprise WLAN Market Grew 7.2% for the Full Year 2016 to reach $5.4 billion driven by the continued digital transformation of all wireless offices and hyper connected homes.

The market is also evolving towards cloud-managed Wi-Fi solutions at the expense of the traditional controller-based WLAN deployments. This coincides with a cultural shift towards businesses using cloud-based services as part of their digital transformation from enterprises in all sectors. Recent studies indicate that 93 Percent of Organizations Use Cloud-Based IT Services[1]  such as Cloud storage and file sharing, Cloud computing/infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and Cloud-based productivity suites.[2]

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.

The Power of APIs

In that context of migration to the cloud, APIs (Application Programming Interface) are becoming essential to a great Wi-Fi experience. As a reminder, API is a software interface that exposes the services and data of one application to the programmatic control of another.  APIs facilitate the data and command interchanges between different programs and different tiers in a cloud-based solution. APIs are the digital glue that holds the applications and systems together.

In the Wi-Fi context, APIs enable the creation of an ecosystem consisting of the best of breed software solutions to develop around a platform. For example, as access point vendors focus on the infrastructure, they can integrate guest Wi-Fi analytics and monetization platforms from specialized software vendors thus enriching the value of the integrated solution. APIs in the WLAN can be anything that is relevant to adding value to the Wi-Fi experience. Some common examples include:

  • Guest features: captive portal & in-browser engagement
  • Deep user analytics
  • Social Media Login
  • Network security
  • Location based services
  • IoT on-boarding
  • Content filtering
  • Parental control

At the same time, we are witnessing the disaggregation of the WLAN infrastructure. The hardware brings less and less value other than the design and assembly of standardized parts.

The value for customers is created at the silicon and software levels including the ecosystem of APIs such as CaptiveXS from RaGaPa which is working with several leading ODMs of Wi-Fi access points to increase the value and relevancy of the solution. One can imagine the creation of an open ecosystem of interoperable Wi-Fi software and hardware including access points from several vendors which is not the case today.

Market Implications:

Wi-Fi is no longer the playing field of carriers alone but has also become a necessity in many enterprises and industries. For businesses which, just like telcos, are seeking to differentiate themselves around customer experience, it is essential to offer customers high quality connectivity and guest Wi-Fi can support this. For example, studies show that Wi-Fi has become the number one amenity sought by hotel guests and a vital criterion when selecting a hotel. At the same time, hotels and brands use Wi-Fi to collect valuable data on their customer journey, which they use to achieve marketing, sales and operational objectives.

Equally, shoppers expect to use their mobile devices while in the store to compare prices, use coupons, and browse customer product reviews and features, as part of their retail experience. Malls and stores need to enable this, and in addition, the more shoppers who use Wi-Fi while in the store, the more data and analytics can be collected. This in turn can be used to improve their customers’ shopping experience, and bricks and mortar retailers to fight back against online giants such as Amazon.

These sectors are just examples of areas where Wi-Fi is having a significant and growing impact on business success.

Affordable guest Wi-Fi solutions are available today, such as CaptiveXS from RaGaPa, which offers all the content insertion, captive portal with social login, content filtering and data collection and analytics functionality on top of a secure, easy to use guest Wi-Fi platform.

RaGaPa’s CaptiveXS solution combines all the essential Wi-Fi services into a unified platform managed through a cloud-based dashboard. With CaptiveXS, out-of-the box IoT security and engagement/monetization tools can help businesses of any size provide a safe and engaging guest Wi-Fi experience. The key CaptiveXS features include – IoT Discovery, Management and Security, Captive Portal with Social Login, Content Filtering, Content Insertion, Deep User Analytics and User Management. Learn more at www.captivexs.com

[1] http://www.spiceworks.com/marketing/diving-into-IT-cloud-services/report/.

 

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Mr. Fellah, founder of Maravedis and Wi-Fi 360 is a leading analyst in the Broadband Wireless world and authored various landmark reports on WiFi, LTE, 4G, WiMAX, Broadband Wireless and Voice over IP (VoIP). He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, Fierce Wireless, 4G 360, etc.

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