The Technology Is Right… Are You Right for the Technology?

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When I began writing the outline for this post, I thought that I would discuss the roles and responsibilities within an organization's mobility team. I wanted to further describe how, when done properly, an organization gets mobility right. Then I realized that the roles and responsibilities that I have defined may not be within other organizations and, for the purpose of this post, are irrelevant. As a result, I decided to blog about what an organization must do to get mobility right. Given the audience I imagine that we all know how to properly deploy a wireless network. So, in addition to designing, deploying, and supporting the right wireless network, getting mobility right requires that you perform the following:

Get Educated On Mobility Services, Not Just Wireless Networking.
More and more businesses require that the service do more than just provide Internet access. With every service that is provided, businesses are trying to find ways to attract more people, connect the customer with the brand, create and control the experience, and develop customer loyalty. These steps can, in turn, generate more revenue. By itself, the right mobility solution cannot accomplish this. However, the right mobility solution can be a key component to achieving success. Your knowledge of the mobility component of the overall plan is where you add our value.
Get Educated On WAN Technologies. ("My wireless is slow.")
Mobility services and WAN services work hand-in-hand. Today it is rare that a customer wants a closed wireless network. Most customers want secure, not closed, access. That secure access allows them to safely utilize the Internet as an extended resource. That secure access is only viable if users can access those Internet resources within a reasonable amount of time. Given the overall requirements and [potential] mobile device count, build a network - wireless and wide-area, that meets the customer's needs. Furthermore, many customers do not separate the access point's device density from the wireless LAN from the wide-area network. Have you noticed that when connected to a wired network people are likely to state that the computer OR the network is slow? However, when connected to a wireless network almost all complaints regarding performance relate solely to the speed of the wireless network. Our customers associate the WAN with the wireless network. So should you.
Understand The Short-, Long-Term Benefits of a Mobility Deployment.
Many customers see mobility as an added expense with no added value. It is important that you educate customers on what seems obvious to us. For example, mobility deployments and upgrades are less expensive than comparable wired deployments. For the purpose of servicing patrons, wireless networks are more scalable that wired networks. Wireless network provide access to information and additional mobility services from anywhere coverage is provided. This access empowers both the patron (limitless information) and the customer (visibility and control).
Recognize Mobility Opportunities.
Recognize and understand a customer's cues as it relates to mobility. A customer may not know that a mobility solution is best suited to solve the problem. All a customer may do is present you with his end-game and give you the responsibility to help him meet that goal. That is your cue to step in and propose a mobility solution that is right for that opportunity. For example, if a customer states that he wants patrons to have access throughout the building, strategically placed wireless kiosks may solve the immediate problem. But what if this initiative is very successful? The kiosk solution will not scale. Present the customer with the idea of turning every patrons' smart phone and tablet into a mobile kiosk. This way he will never run out of kiosks and the solution will scale more easily. The next phase of the service may only consist of a WAN upgrade and not finding space for more kiosks.
Understand Your Customer.
Without understanding what your customer does, the problem that has been identified, how much they are willing to spend, etc. you cannot attempt to offer any type of solution. You are wasting your time. I will give you an example.
Last year I had the opportunity to provide a wireless network to a customer that wanted to generate more revenue. The customer thought that a wireless network with Internet access would get people into the stores. Once in the stores, patrons would comparison shop and realize that this store offered the best price. In turn, patrons would buy more products. I thought that this was the perfect customer. He knew what he wanted and knew that it would work. I never thought to inquire about the validity of the customer's game plan or end game. I thought that my job started and stopped with the wireless deployment.
In hindsight, it is obvious that I was wrong. The customer did not properly market the availability of the service. When you couple that with the fact the company's website did not have a shopping component to it, patrons had no reason to use the Internet access as a tool to comparison shop. Patrons used the network to browse the Internet, read e-mail, and update mobile apps. Had I taken some time to ask the right questions, I would have been able to tell the customer that in order to achieve the success he wants, a mobility strategy is required. This is not the Field of Dreams. If you make it they will not necessarily come.
Know The Tools At Your Disposal.
Similar to wireless and wide-area networks, knowing your offerings goes hand-in-hand with understanding your customer. You must first understand if the solution you offer meets the needs of the market. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone's time. Based on my experience, the last thing you want to do is provide the wrong solution to any customer. Providing the wrong solution is like buying a car that is classified as a lemon. No matter how many times you put it in the shop, it will never run in the intended manner. Your best option is get rid of it and start anew.
As you perform the above you may realize that you must shut the door on many opportunities or shut the doors entirely. But acting on the answer may open doors to not just new opportunities, but new "real" business and "real" deployments. However, in order to maximize your time and resources, a tough decision must be made.