Archive for May, 2021

Meraki Unboxed: Lessons from the Campus

Student on computer wearing headphones and professor at lectern

Over the past few years, we have seen colleges and universities adopt online learning as a strategy to reach more students by offering additional programs. However, the campus was still the principal place to learn because of all the benefits of the in-person experience. The pandemic changed all that, and after a year of 100% online learning, reimagining higher education is critical for schools and universities to thrive in the new blended system.

With so much going on, we wanted to learn from an industry expert how the pandemic has reshaped the future of higher education. We spoke with Jenna Linskens, Director of Learning & Innovative Technology at Ithaca College, on lessons she’s learned from navigating the challenges of the last 14 months.

Please join us for this insightful conversation with Dr. Linskens and @MerakiSimon on the Meraki Unboxed Podcast.

Meraki unboxed episode 50: Lessons from the campus. Listen now

Visit our higher education site to learn more about how Meraki provides IT insights, visibility, and flexibility to improve the college experience. To discover federal funding available for higher education technology investments, check out this blog post.

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Making Physical Locations Digital

Over the last several years, it has become clear that organizations that know how to unlock the power of data have exceeded expectations. While large amounts of data can be valuable, whether one can manage and leverage the data effectively is another story. Digital tags enable transformation of an analog physical world into a digital one, which introduces many benefits.

Replacing paper price tags and labels with digital ones opens up various ways to improve profitability for many industries. For retailers, synchronized and optimized pricing, enhanced in-store efficiency, improved customer marketing experiences, and better on-shelf availability can help improve margins. Manufacturing sites can improve production and logistics processes by replacing physical labels and the transportation industry can provide digital signage with relevant travel or seating information. Workplaces can leverage digital signs to provide information to designate when meeting rooms are available.

Digital tags from the cloud

Starting today, your team can enable a secure cloud-managed digital tagging solution by leveraging existing Meraki infrastructure. This solution helps organizations improve efficiencies, automate tasks, and enhance shopping experiences without additional complex hardware.

We are excited to release this functionality, following the announcement of a partnership between SES-imagotag and Cisco Meraki. This new addition is powered by the Meraki platform, which hosts over 150 apps and ecosystem partners, enabling organizations to deliver differentiated business outcomes.

Meraki + SES-imagotag

Many current digital tag and electronic shelf label solutions have complexities, such as PoE requirements, add-on antennas, and servers that may limit the speed and ease of deployment. By leveraging a Meraki wireless access point and built-in IoT radio, architects can deploy digital tags much faster, without the need for additional hardware, and can manage everything remotely via the cloud.

“Our new solution with SES-imagotag will streamline deployment and management of digital smart labels. By bringing in this integrated offering, organizations will benefit from our joint expertise and reuse of their wireless infrastructure. As the market leader of cloud-managed Wi-Fi, we look forward to partnering with SES-imagotag, the market leader of digital smart labels and pricing automation, to transform physical locations seamlessly and securely.”

Matthew Landry, Senior Director of Product Management, Cisco Meraki

The integration can now be enabled within the Meraki dashboard, allowing configuration of Meraki access points and full management of the digital tags via the SES-imagotag VUSION cloud-based IoT management solution. The VUSION Retail IoT Cloud platform provides a secure and reliable cloud platform to integrate label images, track end-to-end operation, integrate data from various sources, control label flashing, and more.

To learn more about Meraki wireless and digital tags, take a look at our recent Cisco Live session and/or contact our sales team.

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The Workplace of the Future: The Office 2.0

I enjoyed hosting the third “Behind The Network” webisode on April 28, along with representatives from two small-to-midsize businesses. From my perspective, the pandemic has weighed heavily on this particular sector. As we begin returning to the office and school campuses, there will be many considerations. If you missed it, you can watch the recording.

Here’s my recap of what was discussed and my insights into some of the compelling subjects addressed.   

Hybrid work is here to stay

Over the next 6 to 12 months, I think returning to work and campus will be decidedly hybrid. The process will likely be slow and measured, with a high degree of location-based service deployment to ensure measures such as COVID-19 contact tracing, proximity, and density monitoring are maintained. 

For remote workers, organizations will evaluate connectivity platforms to ensure proper scale and security, and solutions that integrate security into the overall networking stack like SD-WAN and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) should experience rapid adoption. Furthermore, I believe that enterprises will adopt a greater degree of automation to ensure both higher levels of network uptime and a more consistent application experience regardless of location. Network assurance and analytics platforms, including AIOps, should also see broad adoption to monitor performance and provide actionable insights. 

Finally, I believe that network operators will also benefit from a cloud-first approach in the form of better scalability, economics, and flexibility to support the new hybrid work model. Most often, I hear customers voice a desire to make networking simple and easy to deploy and manage. Thus, networking as a service (NaaS) should also be a huge consideration long term.

During the panel, I invited Aaron Sturniolo from RRMM Architects and James FitzPatrick from Avenues: The World School to share their experiences during the pandemic and discuss how they pivoted to maintain continuity. We had an interactive question and answer session following the conversation, and a handful of common threads from the panel stood out to me. 

First, the pandemic forced both organizations to fundamentally rethink their approach to supporting critical stakeholder needs. Whether you are an architect or a student, it is mission-critical for IT staff to extend a consistent experience from work/campus to remote locations in order to maintain productivity. Second, both fundamentally changed their IT operating models by employing some of the previously mentioned tools to achieve the necessary scale and business resiliency. Finally, one of the silver linings resulting from the pandemic was an acceleration of each organization’s digital journey that will prepare them for unexpected challenges in the future. 

Looking ahead  

The future of work will be hybrid, and IT professionals will require connectivity platforms that scale, are secure, and deliver a consistent application experience regardless of location through automation, assurance, actionable insights, and cloudification. RRMM Architects and Avenues: The World School are two great examples of organizations that leaned into modern tools to not only survive the pandemic but thrive. It has been an interesting journey for all of us, and I believe businesses will be stronger as a result.

 

Will Townsend is Senior Analyst responsible for networking infrastructure and carrier services at Moor Insights & Strategy. He has been featured on NPR, CNBC, and in the Wall Street Journal, and frequently contributes to Forbes.com, providing insights into enterprise networking and 5G. Townsend is also ranked consistently as one of the world’s top networking analysts, as measured by ARInsights.