Success isn’t solely defined by providing a great customer experience, it’s also measured by providing a customer experience that’s better than what your competitors are offering. This is especially true in industries like retail where customer demands change rapidly and competition is fierce.
Businesses that successfully tailor their products, services and operations to meet evolving customer demands know this can be easier said than done. Understanding your customer, their behaviors and buying habits is essential to providing the kind of experience that will keep them returning, as well as referring others. However, gaining the quality intel you need is an entirely different challenge.
Gathering quality intel
Obtaining customer feedback can be challenging. Traditional methods like surveys are commonly used, but rarely provide the level of detail needed. Customers often ignore surveys and can sometimes even provide inaccurate information—a large reason businesses are turning to more advanced methods for obtaining data. Many are now utilizing cloud-based technology to gather detailed information about customer behaviors in a less intrusive way. Equipment like WiFi access points and intelligent IP security cameras are being leveraged to provide deep insights and rich data to enable more informed decision-making regarding traffic flow, product positioning and customer engagement.
WiFi has become an essential service for almost every business, but especially for those related to commerce where the shopping experience, checkout experience and customization of purchases through loyalty programs and promotions are more heavily relied upon. WiFi today is also being leveraged to gather location-specific information about customers. Helpful intel, such as, how many people walked past your business, how many came in, how long they stayed and how many are repeat customers, are just a few of the data points that enable businesses to make strategic decisions concerning curb appeal, staffing demands and the need for more personalized experiences and offers through proximity-based marketing.
Intelligent IP cameras
The latest evolution in cameras goes well beyond security, leveraging advanced technology like object detection and machine-learning to help you understand how people are moving through your business and interacting with your merchandise and staff. This technology has the ability to recognize people and objects, helping to paint a clear picture of how many customers were in your business at a specific time. Using heatmapping technology, foot traffic is recorded by displaying a range of colors that indicate motion in a specific area, from red (high motion) to green (low motion). This type of intelligence can help you make informed decisions regarding staff and product placements and the overall layout of your business.
There’s no denying the need for valuable business insight today. With the rapid adoption of mobile devices and continuously shifting customer demands, businesses are more inclined to leverage the latest technology to better understand foot traffic patterns and behaviors at their locations. Understandably, cloud-based analytic technology is becoming a preferred method for gathering this information because of its unique ability to capture customer’s natural behaviors. One insight we can count on is that technology advances will continue to shape the way businesses respond to changes in consumer preferences and behaviors as they seek an advantage over the competition.
As the world goes digital, IT plays an ever more critical role in business success. Beyond simply supporting applications that connect employees and customers, IT has become either the key enabler or inhibitor of business growth. Competitive advantage can only be sustained by continuously executing innovative strategies.
However, it’s hard to add strategic value when you’re overwhelmed with tactical burdens. Rapid growth, mergers, acquisitions and other events can leave IT resources nearly consumed by “firefighting” activities to support legacy infrastructure and applications that may be beyond end-of-support or end-of-life status.
One area that can be exceptionally demanding on resources, is the local area network (LAN). The LAN is the network specific to a single location, consisting of devices like WiFi access points, switches, security cameras and more, which have traditionally required administrators to make configuration changes locally. The LAN can consume a significant amount of time and resources, especially when adding or managing multiple locations that require higher levels of on-site support.
Strategically approaching network needs
Overcoming inefficiencies and rising to your organization’s strategic challenges may require rethinking how your resources are allocated. This is a major reason businesses are enlisting partners to help manage their LAN needs such as software installations, updates and the deployment of cloud-based network devices. Not only to benefit from outside expertise, but to eliminate the need for IT specialists to be physically on-site at each location.
Migrating your LAN to the cloud
Transitioning to a cloud-managed LAN services model can increase efficiency by delivering the services needed to support employees and customers, without the physical and IT burdens that traditional LAN services require.
For example, access to LAN devices—including every switch in a deployment—can be managed remotely by administrators via online dashboards when moved to the cloud. This enables administrators to make changes across an entire organization simultaneously, eliminating the need to physically access the telco closet at each site to adjust devices one at a time, drastically simplifying the management process.
Centralized cloud-management of the LAN also ensures higher levels of security, enabling administrators to set security protocols across their entire network in just a few clicks, while leveraging the latest technology to proactively discover malicious activity. If anything does arise, administrators have the ability to quickly isolate and identify issues, significantly reducing time to resolution. When IT organizations spend less time “fighting fires”, they can spend more time on strategic initiatives.
In truth, your IT organization can spend more time on strategic initiatives when they spend less time managing your LAN overall. Migrating to a cloud-based model can make a considerable difference and working with a provider that will configure and maintain your devices, can have an even bigger impact. When planning your move to the cloud, make sure you do your homework and work with a partner that will not only provide the services you need, but can also take on some of the management responsibilities as well.
Investing for success
As you consider the benefits of migrating LAN management to the cloud as part of your digital transformation strategy, you should also consider other elements of your corporate strategy where costs and benefits may be challenging to quantify. Are there ways that you can leverage your newly freed resources to drive growth within the business overall? How can your IT organization help you achieve your strategic goals? Technology is vital for business growth, but outdated legacy environments can have an adverse effect when they require more resources and lack flexibility. Investing in technology now that can support the evolving needs of your organization into the future, will be vital to achieving long-term success.
Enter your business location zip code below for business solutions in your area.
Find business zip code