Special applications of wireless networks for business

Special applications of wireless networks

Marketing opportunities

Where a business has people who are in a waiting area or stationary close by, wireless access to marketing material can provide opportunities.

For example, free WiFi based internet access that must first pass through a marketing webpage can increase sales and raise awareness of brands, products, services, and offers.

Temporary networks

A wireless network can quickly cover a number of users with minimal disruption to an environment. So it can be useful for temporary networks, especially where there are unknowns such the exact location and number of users, or to overcome a short-term connectivity issue, or for site offices.

Make better use of staff and take advantage of free sophisticated IT equipment

Increasingly people are bringing sophisticated personal IT devices into the workplace. By providing free internet access and easy connectivity of that equipment to corporate information systems, employees can be encouraged to be more responsive to changes in their work with simple ways to take action. The consequential increased mobility of employees and their willingness to mix some work with their social lives enables new ways of working that smart businesses will explore.

For example, front line staff can be made aware of the latest developments with their clients while out of the office and respond to urgent enquiries directly or by asking a colleague to intervene. This represents a level of service that differentiates a progressive business from its competitors.

Aesthetic considerations

Sometimes hotels, clubs, offices, shops, venues, and events prefer WiFi equipment to be hidden from view. Special 'plenum' rated wireless network equipment should be used in these circumstances to ensure good wireless network coverage and to comply with safety regulations.

Difficult and hostile environments

Some environments are dusty - such as many involved in processing raw materials. Some environments are humid or may be wet - such as spas and outdoor events like sporting competitions. Other environments are subject to rapid temperature changes - such as next to doors that open to the outside. There are environmentally sealed versions of WiFi equipment that are suitable for such conditions.

Remote monitoring of staff, equipment, products, and processes

Photographs, audio, and video footage can be transmitted wirelessly from distributed and moving staff and equipment, allowing situations to be monitored and recorded remotely. The immediacy of sharing information gathered in this way, and the streamlined access to recordings of the information, simplifies tasks and provides new opportunities. Some WiFi equipment is better able to handle streaming of high data volumes such as from video footage. Moving sources of data that need a continuous connection require particularly sophisticated equipment.

For example, investigations into a problem with a product in a production environment can be shown live to expert decision makers as the need arises, rather than taking recordings back to be uploaded and shared at some future point, or needing the experts to take time out to visit the production environment.

Sensor networks

Several wireless network technologies now exist to allow sensor based monitoring of environments, people, goods, equipment, and processes. These present opportunities to improve efficiency, working environment, the impression made on customers, and to improve compliance with health and safety regulations.

For example, it is possible to wirelessly monitor conditions like temperature, pressure, vibration, humidity and many others to help optimise process efficiency and reduce labour costs. Health and safety risks can be reduced by replacing people in unpleasant, hazardous, and dangerous environments with wireless sensors. Now continuous monitoring can even take place on large sites outdoors, among crowds, and in hostile environments.

Location tracking

A number of technologies now exist with different characteristics that can be used to allow people, equipment, and goods to be tracked around a facility. The appropriate technology depends on the type of environment and how much information is required.

For example, assets such personnel, equipment, and 'work in process' can be tracked at specific locations for a much lower cost than monitoring their position continuously. By contrast, small movable expensive items of equipment may justify being tracked continuously to help locate them quickly and so keep business running smoothly, but also to help reduce losses.

Mobile information

Some itinerant roles can require access to information while moving - such as technicians like surveyors and stage lighting and sound engineers; also educators such as presenters, teachers and trainers; monitoring and enforcement roles such as security and quality control officers; and managing roles like production manager, site foreman and event organiser. Paper based information can be cumbersome, may not tolerate some environments well, and requires manual intervention to ensure it is up-to-date and complete. If it is not all present and correct work progress can be hindered. It is much better to provide continuous access to the most current information with devices like tablets, mobile phones, laptops, smart watches, and hybrid devices.

For example, a site manager notices there seems to be a shortage of temporary staff on a particular job which is falling behind schedule. The site manager is able to check immediately how many staff should be present and how many are expected in the following days, and adjusts the numbers there and then to bring work back on schedule.

Customer recognition

It has recently become possible to track the presence near a location of smart phones and wireless enabled cars. This allows monitoring of the presence of wealthier potential customers, improves the recognition of returning customers, and allows new ways of presenting information to customers using technology rather than staff time. Increasingly cheap devices can be given to customers that provide benefit to them and extra information about their visiting patterns to your business.

Wireless link

Networks in separate buildings can be connected by a wireless link. These robust private connections are independent of third parties and allow sharing of IT resources such as databases and internet connections. So they can act to create a larger effective pool of resources and provide better guarantees of some services. Wireless links can often be setup rapidly; so they can also help to quickly mitigate temporary problems.