Wi-Fi is still an enterprise challenge

Many lofty, strategic IT initiatives depend on simply being able to connect to the internet.

Like electricity, cellular service and running water, Wi-Fi is something that we think about primarily when we don't have it.

That thought struck me as I was traveling to moderate an executive luncheon discussion on the topic of enterprise Wi-Fi and I found myself stuck on a cross-country flight with no Wi-Fi access. The irony of my circumstances didn't escape me, but I did come to see Wi-Fi in a new light. I started thinking about it from the perspective of customer experience and in the context of digital business -- two of the big initiatives facing enterprise CIOs.

In the pages of CIO, we have written about how companies are employing technologies from artificial intelligence and data analytics to chat bots and mobile apps to improve customer experience, and how CIOs are now on the front lines in the battle for customers. We've written extensively about the massive digital transformations underway at companies as diverse as GE, Domino's, Quest Diagnostics and Cisco.

And customer experience and digital transformation have been hot topics on stage at CIO events as well. For example, at CIO Perspectives Atlanta in March, Home Depot CIO Matt Carey said the $80 billion retailer is pushing to transform the customer experience across all of its channels, whether it's in stores, in a person's home, online or on a customer's mobile device.

Without exception, these lofty, strategic initiatives depend on simply being able to connect to the internet. Yet, many organizations struggle to provide their employees and customers with the capability to consistently connect their devices.

For more than one-third of respondents to the State of the Network survey fielded by our sister brand Network World, the top three challenges to enterprise Wi-Fi are the following:

  • Ensuring bandwidth for the growing number of user devices.
  • Ensuring that Wi-Fi infrastructure is capable of supporting evolving demands.
  • Ensuring Wi-Fi coverage throughout the enterprise.

Think about how you'll overcome these challenges; your digital initiatives will suffer if you don't.

Last year, the city of Buffalo, N.Y., teamed up with M&T Bank and the University at Buffalo to provide citywide Wi-Fi coverage in areas where residents and visitors congregate. Think of the user experience the city is providing and the potential business activity that might occur as a result of people being able to access the internet where they want to be, rather than being restricted to places where Wi-Fi is available.

Look at Wi-Fi from a customer perspective and in the context of digital transformation. Ask yourself how you are enabling your employees, customers and partners to connect when they're at your facilities and envision what that will look like in three years.

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