Vertical Markets That Desperately Need an Edge Networking Strategy

This eWEEK Data Point article examines challenges that businesses across vertical markets face when it comes to the network and how an effective edge strategy can alleviate those concerns.


With the escalating number of internet of things-enabled devices, businesses across a variety of industry verticals are feeling the pressure to figure out their own IoT strategies. Organizations that may not have historically prioritized their networking strategy are now challenged to implement a robust infrastructure that can handle data from countless wired and wireless endpoints—and the network edge (smartphones, laptops, purpose-driven servers, tablets, etc.) is where this matters most.

This eWEEK Data Point article, based on industry information from Extreme Networks, examines challenges that businesses across vertical markets face when it comes to the network and how an effective edge strategy can alleviate those concerns.

Vertical Data Point No. 1:  Higher Education/K-12

Educational institutions have many challenges when it comes to delivering reliable WiFi service. Chief among them is a resource-constrained IT staff. Despite this, schools must deliver uninterrupted WiFi connectivity to all users and devices in classrooms, offices and public spaces. To flawlessly manage BYOD and 1:1 computing programs and provide adequate bandwidth for emerging styles of learning, including video, AR/VR and robotics, schools need a network that automatically adjusts as classroom and campus conditions change.

With an edge network solution that adaptively learns to tune connections in all situations, schools can reduce the need for hands-on network management by IT staff, giving them more time to focus on enhancing education, rather than trouble-shooting the network.

Vertical Data Point No. 2:  Health Care

The network edge is the front line of connectivity. Investment in an edge solution that detects (and fixes) anomalies and issues before they arise is critical for both user satisfaction and an organization’s bottom line. Networks must also be able to isolate attacks, as well as insecure devices that may not have up-to-date security protocols. This particular issue is pronounced in health care environments where the use of legacy devices like patient monitors is widespread.

An edge solution that can overlay security features onto the network can protect both an organization’s data and end-user devices. This ensures that life-critical WiFi will be available in the ER, OR, ICU and LDRP, as well as in patient rooms, where high-speed access to personal apps and entertainment is important to patient satisfaction. 

Vertical Data Point No. 3:  Retail

Network edge technology can help brick-and-mortar retailers with customer retention and loyalty by enabling on-the-fly personalization. With an advanced edge solution—one that is AI-enabled with deep analytics and locationing capabilities—retail IT staff can trust that their network is intelligently collecting and analyzing user data that can be leveraged to understand guest demographics, shopping patterns, personal preferences and the exact location of shoppers in stores—in real time. This enables store associates to better engage with customers face-to-face, improve experiences, optimize workflow and store layout, and ultimately increase sales.

Vertical Data Point No. 4:  Hospitality

Whether a hotel, convention center, casino or resort, one thing these venues all have in common is that secure and reliable WiFi connectivity is not only an expectation, but an integral part of delivering a quality guest experience. At hotels in particular, guests are not just looking for access to high-speed WiFi, but they’re leveraging their mobile devices as a way to engage directly with property staff and services.

An example is mobile POS that relies on WiFi and can have a significant impact on a guest’s experience. Imagine a guest is out at the pool and gets a craving for a cold drink. Instead of having to get up and go to the bar, the guest can submit their order on a tablet provided by the hotel, or in some cases, from their own smartphone, and have their drink delivered. A spotty connection could derail the entire process. A solution that proactively fine-tunes WiFi to ensure optimal connectivity for users while also providing intelligence to better engage guests is invaluable for hospitality properties.

Vertical Data Point No. 5:  Sports and Entertainment

Whether it’s leveraging the IoT, accessing data analytics to better understand fan behaviors or employing targeted location-based marketing, technology has opened up new and innovative opportunities for how sports and entertainment organizations interact and drive value with their customers. For example, having the ability to know which social media applications fans are using during a game gives a digital marketing team the ability to precisely target campaigns in the stadium via the social media app to drive action.

Location-based technologies add another layer of insights. Using beacon technology, teams can see how guests move throughout a venue, enabling them to track popular zones and create personalized offers on the fly. Investment in a dynamic WiFi solution that is purposely engineered to meet the unique and demanding requirements of high-density public venues is a must for organizations looking to deliver on today’s customer experience expectations.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...