The Internet-of-Things offers many advantages to brick-and-mortar businesses. Restaurants and food service can provide the faster, more seamless interaction that consumers demand. Physical retailers can compete with the convenience of online retail and delivery. Most importantly, traditional businesses can offer a better multichannel customer experience, which we discussed last week.
However, there are multiple challenges that arise from the rapid growth in IoT-related technologies. Namely, the ability to ensure your network is scalable with new tech, that your network is secure, and that it has minimal downtime. When designing an IT system, ask yourself whether your network can meet the following tenants of a more integrated and demanding consumer base.
Secure network architecture and devices
Consider what devices will be connecting to each other, and make sure that at least one side of every interaction is encrypting the interaction. This means that for unknowns – such as user devices – you must ensure that the devices that they are connecting to are encrypting the interaction.
To visually understand your network, create a physical map of potential device connections. This includes customer’s phones, kiosks, your Wi-Fi, digital signage, and your computers, among other devices. Draw a black line between every device interaction that is possible, and highlight the line in green if at least one of those two devices in that interaction can encrypt the interaction. A secure network is one that has every line in that physical map highlighted.
Everything must be high-speed
Download speeds for all devices connected to the Internet must be at least 25 megabits per second (mbps) to be considered high-speed. Additionally, local networking should be nearly instantaneous. It’s not just meant for a better customer experience or for efficiency, it’s a matter of scalability. If you are suffering from performance sputters and periods of slow download speeds now, as more devices are able to connect, your network will only stand to decline in speed. This can make your network nigh unusable if you fail to properly keep up with demand.
The best way to ensure you are maximizing the speed of connections is basic housekeeping and optimization for any network. Minimizing the length and number of network cables, ensuring your devices are up-to-date and accessible for upgrades, monitoring for network hogs, and strategically placing any wireless routers will all increase your Internet speeds.
Consistent performance matters
It’s also not enough to simply have great speeds only some of the time. Your network must be able to handle new device connections and the day-to-day workload without interruptions. While you can’t always guarantee that your network won’t ever have downtime, you can avoid frustrating, and costly, outages in your network with a few guidelines.
Regular network refreshes is among the most important asset you can use to ensure uptime, while also affording the opportunity to replace old cables and devices that are preventing your network from meeting your standards. In addition, invest in redundancies to make sure that even when a connection unexpectedly drops, your customers and employees can still maintain a seamless experience and a functioning business environment.
Speak with networking professionals
No matter the size of your IT department nor the experience of the director, having a dedicated team on the ground to handle the deployment and maintenance of your integrated system is crucial. A centralized IT team might have trouble identifying where inefficiencies are, as they aren’t on-site. In addition, a decentralized team might be unable to be consistent with other locations and won’t always be able to correct issues on their own.
An integration service with one point of contact and proper logistics management means that your IT department won’t be as burdened with maintenance, installation, or architecture of your network infrastructure. Learn more about Worldlink Integration’s networking services and what our team can do to help your mid-sized business.