“What’s the Wi-Fi code?” - it’s a phrase we’re hearing more and more often, as customers, employees and building visitors come to expect wireless networking wherever they go.

However, from a business perspective, providing high quality, free Wi-Fi across your offices and venues could be transformational for your organisation, whether you’re in the private, public or third sector.

A converged Wi-Fi platform like O2 Gateway can provide employees and visitors to your office with free wireless networking, and you will also have it as WAN backup, which can be more cost effective and valuable than relying on redundant back up lines.

In addition, retailers and public services alike can improve their efficiency, and the customer experience, by using Wi-Fi for customer/citizen self-service.

And in larger venues, high-density (HD) Wi-Fi can completely transform your customer experience, enabling thousands of visitors to access mobile broadband services simultaneously, whilst interacting with your brand.

Offering seamless connectivity
The key to providing a market-leading networking experience is seamless connectivity, which has come to be the defining feature of today’s digital organisation. In many sectors, mobile devices now outstrip desktops in terms of the number of users online; the traffic they generate; and the number of transactions made - both in terms of numbers and value.

And if customer experience and engagement is the battleground on which all organisations must compete today, seamless connectivity is the prerequisite for being in the fight. It’s the essential infrastructure enabler for digital transformation and disruption. That means that great-quality Wi-Fi needs to be at the core of your battle plan.

In order to achieve this, there are a number of considerations. Firstly, it means having a laser focus on delivering mobile-enabled experiences to customers – whether that’s via native apps, enhanced web sites or superior Wi-Fi services.

The second consideration is to deliver a converged infrastructure for employees that enables them to work collaboratively, and without interruption, on any device, connecting across apps, channels and, locations. Staff expect to transition smoothly from Wi-Fi to 3G or 4G networks. They can’t meet customer expectations unless they are equipped with this sort of modern, flexible infrastructure.

Thirdly, customers, likewise, want seamless connectivity, with Wi-Fi services offering transformational experiences in many industry sectors - including retail, healthcare and transportation.

Lastly, organisations need to ensure that their current mobile and Wi-Fi investment is future proofed, so it can handle revolutionary technologies such as IoT.

Wi-Fi everywhere
Organisations are using Wi-Fi technology in innovative ways across the sectors, and gaining a range of business benefits.

One area that is growing in popularity is HD Wi-Fi, a technology that can simultaneously support thousands of mobile users in one facility. O2 regularly helps event organisers to keep fans connected at many of the venues it supports, including The O2 Arena, Manchester City Stadium, and Twickenham Stadium.

“Now as many as 44% of event attendees are using event apps,” says Helen Miall, Head of Marketing, Weve and O2 Commerce, Telefonica O2 UK. She adds, “With the introduction of HD Wi-Fi, which provides a solution for venues or areas with a high concentration of visitors using their public Wi-Fi service, upwards of 15,000 customers can enjoy a reliable and stable Wi-Fi service that isn’t impacted by the number of people at the event.”

Miall explains that music and sports events are increasingly incorporating mobile apps and live streaming through social media tools like Periscope, in order to engage with visitors, and develop promotion and brand loyalty and exposure.

“Football is one of the fields championing this activity,” Miall says. “Leicester City’s football fairytale premiership win lit up social media when Chelsea drew with Spurs as fans, celebrities, and even politicians commented and posted via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Twitter saw an 86% increase in normal activity on the night and the LCFC Instagram account gained 100,000 fans in 24 hours!”

Wi-Fi technology can also help businesses, particularly retailers, to make decisions on where to invest, using analytics services such as O2’s Smart Steps.

Smart Steps enables organisations to better understand customer behaviour in the specific areas or venues where they’ve installed O2 Wifi. Using anonymised and aggregated data from O2’s mobile phone network, Smart Steps can show you how many people visit an area by time, gender and age. Organisations can then analyse this data, making like-for-like comparisons by area, for any given day, week or month. They can see catchment patterns too: showing where crowds are coming from and going to.

Another service, O2 Wifi Insights, analyses customer Wi-Fi usage patterns and behaviour. It can provide insights such as customer demographics; the top website domains being browsed; the number of registered and returning customers, and how and when customers are connecting to your wireless network, among other things. These insights are already helping many of O2’s high-street customers make more informed decisions on how to engage with consumers, and improve the customer experience.

But it isn’t just businesses that are benefiting from offering powerful Wi-Fi. O2 is also working with public sector organisations, most notably the NHS. The Government has committed to offer free Wi-Fi across all NHS buildings in England by 2020, which will underpin the drive to a paperless health service.

Among the benefits this will bring are that it will give patients and staff the ability to access the services they need as well as freeing up clinical time and reducing overall costs. Free Wi-Fi will allow patients staying in hospital to download apps related to their condition, and stay in contact with family and friends outside hospital, improving the patient experience.

Pervasive Wi-Fi will also enable hospitals to support visitors who use wearable technologies, to improve their patient monitoring and clinical care. For Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Wi-Fi is allowing it to replace bedside paper charts with “early warning” tablet computers to identify at-risk patients.

Wi-Fi is making a tangible difference across the board, bringing business benefits and useful customer information, and helping organisations to transform.

But the secret lies in having a single service provider and a unified network platform like O2 Gateway, which can help overcome the challenges of managing disparate fixed line, mobile and Wi-Fi services by converging them onto one platform.

You can then add analytics, personalisation, unified communications, video streaming, localised services, or whatever you have the vision for to take you forward.

To find out more about O2 Wifi go to this link

This article is bought to you in association with O2