There is no denying that traditional brick-and-mortar stores have faced significant changes over the last few years. A shift in consumer shopping behavior toward a preference for online experiences has only accelerated due to COVID-19, the effects of which has caused a large number of already struggling retailers to close their doors for good in recent months. As of August 2020, over 6,000 stores have closed due to bankruptcy, according to marketplace.org.
Structuring IT for long- and short-term agility is critical for retailers to keep up with dramatic market changes, serve loyal customers, and bolster brand affinity.
Let’s take a closer look at which digital solutions are enabling dynamic retailers to survive—and thrive—in this evolving business environment.
A shift to online
The ease of online shopping was accelerating at pace, even before the pandemic struck. Browsing a large variety of products on the go, along with one-click purchasing capabilities, has led to larger basket sizes and more frequent purchases. From adding to the grocery list while riding the bus to snatching up a great promotion for a designer shirt during a lunch break—retailers offer convenience by integrating digital experiences into their target customers’ everyday lifestyles.
With the challenges of shopping in physical stores this year, and the need for a bit of retail therapy, consumers have flocked to online retailers. From July to September, consumers spent $199.44 billion online with U.S. retailers, compared to $145.47 billion for the same period last year, an increase of 37.1%.
While the long-term effects of the pandemic on the retail industry are not clear yet, in the short-term, the shift to e-commerce has put an additional strain on online platforms, as consumers stay indoors and order groceries, clothes, and other goods online. For example, vegetable deliveries in China grew 600% year-over-year during the Lunar New Year in 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic there. Likewise, JD.com, China’s largest online retailer, reported a 215% increase in online grocery sales, representing 15,000 tons of food, during the first ten days of February. The impact for retailers broadly from this increased online demand falls into the categories of network capabilities, robust online channels that can support spikes in online traffic, and connected operations that can not only pivot quickly but provide bottom-line cost savings.
Adjusting to new realities
The pandemic is also requiring that retailers pivot how they think about serving their customers in-store and online. The challenge is to figure out how to maximize engagement in-store, despite additional precautionary measures, while leveraging digital tools to blend online and in-store interactions.
Shoppers value friendly and welcoming service, speed, efficiency, and convenience—but delivering on these expectations can be challenging while meeting safety standards during the pandemic. Solutions such as mobile PoS capabilities that eliminate long lines, digital displays that enable self-service, and cameras to monitor occupancy can help.
Retailers who are doing well online can take advantage of lower traffic in stores to upgrade their IT infrastructure to support such tools. Such an investment will continue to pay dividends even after full scale reopenings by creating differentiated experiences—enabling retailers to not only survive through the pandemic, but also to emerge with a competitive advantage.
As we look forward to the future of retail, it’s critical to rethink how we engage with shoppers. With the help of agile IT and the right digital solutions, retailers can enable a seamless experience for their customers and stay resilient during volatile times—supporting customers in whatever way they want to shop, may it be in-store or online.
Subscribe to our blog to find out how you can stay competitive in our retail series. To learn more about why Meraki is a great fit for retail, check out our retail webpage.
Cisco recently hosted their annual Virtual Manufacturing Summit—which included manufacturing executives, solution providers, and industry thought leaders—to address the ways that manufacturers can provide a safer and more secure workplace while maintaining high levels of factory uptime and worker efficiency.
The two-day event focused on how IT and OT groups within manufacturers must work closely to ensure safe and reliable operations while increasing productivity and profitability. During the Summit, Cisco’s SVP of Global Manufacturing and Logistics shared best practices around business resiliency in a post-pandemic environment.
The summit also included a breakout session with Bossa Nova Robotics, a Cisco Meraki customer. Founded in 2005 as a spin-off from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Bossa Nova is a developer of advanced robotics technology designed to enable retailers to collect and process real-time intelligence about their inventory. The robots autonomously roam store aisles multiple times per day to confirm that each product is on the right shelf and has the right price. Bossa Nova’s robots are currently operating in over 350 stores globally.
During the session, Todd Shipway, Director of IT & Robot Communications at Bossa Nova, discussed how they leverage Meraki solutions in conjunction with robots to monitor the plant floor for safety and security. Shipway discussed the need to automate as much as they can in a post-pandemic world when it comes to manufacturing. He also discussed how Cisco Meraki has impacted their workflow during the pandemic and beyond.
As Shipway puts it, “As of right now we are 99% remote. The robots are still there and being tested and the Meraki solution has allowed us to keep an eye on our infrastructure.” To learn more about how Bossa Nova utilizes Meraki, explore their case study.
Learn more about Meraki products and explore how our solutions address critical manufacturing scenarios by visiting our website to get a deeper dive.
The future of healthcare is arriving at light speed in the form of tech innovations bursting with potential to upend how care is delivered and consumed—ultimately reducing costs, improving patient outcomes, and ensuring more equitable access to services globally. As organizations speed up their digital transformations and push closer to realizing these dreams, they must remain vigilant to security risks that imperil progress and ensure their systems are robust enough to handle new technology. With IT teams stretched thin thanks to COVID-19 response, hackers are hungrily circling.
These promising technologies, and others like robotics, nanotech, cloud, and quantum computing, will be familiar to anyone keeping their finger on the pulse of how healthcare may soon be transformed. These technologies are hovering over nearly every sector of our economy, materializing in day-to-day operations whether you are a manufacturer, a financier, or a retailer.
In fact, the world’s struggles with COVID-19 have squeezed previously unhurried plans for digital transformation into pressure-cooked timelines spanning mere days and weeks for many organizations. Entrenched roadblocks to progress like legal barriers, basic assumptions, and fear of lost competitiveness have crumbled by desperate necessity.
A prime example of these trends has been the sudden acceptance of telemedicine, which the healthcare industry has long flirted with but never eagerly embraced until now. Others include the widespread adoption of digitally enabled practices like remote patient monitoring, using technology to ensure compliant social distancing and contactless engagement, and the acceptance of virtual collaboration tools. And if you doubt that medical facilities will ever fully espouse a truly digital destiny, I present exhibit A: a high-tech, paperless hospital that offers a successful blueprint for facilities of the future.
Clear and present dangers
All of these technologies require a robust IT backbone to support their deployment and use, as well as to protect against the worrisome shadow of cyber threats. All of them will create prolific troves of data (much of it personal) that will prove irresistible to cybercriminals—who, by the way, are already laser-focused on the healthcare industry.
Hospitals and clinics are plum targets for heartless hackers because patient data is needed for life-or-death decision-making, and often needed quickly. The value of this data can literally be measured with human lives. Medical facilities are particularly vulnerable to a type of threat known as ransomware attacks—where trojans infiltrate victim networks and encrypt the data, rendering them unusable until a ransom is paid. In fact, just a few days ago, the FBI warned of imminent ransomware attacks against hospitals, and a handful of care facilities have already fallen victim. With COVID-19 stretching the bandwidth of harried IT teams, the calculus of hackers has been that now is the time to maximize profits. As a result, healthcare organizations everywhere have been reporting a worrisome uptick in threat activity.
As IT departments are being asked to do more with less, laying a secure (yet flexible) IT foundation is critical, not only to protect against cyber threats, but also to ensure that new digital technology investments perform at their peak. Ensuring this foundation is intuitive, easily managed from afar, and extensible with APIs and turnkey integrations can give IT admins peace of mind. Not only will they be able to support their networks without overwhelming them, but they’ll also have future-proofed their investments with a platform that can respond with new options and offerings when market demands arise. No one wants to substantially invest in solutions that are one-offs or that need to be tossed after a year or two of use because they’ve become rigid and out-of-date.
Necessity is the mother
Inventions have a way of arriving at their most critical hour of need, whether vaccine or VPN. For IT heroes bravely holding the line against malware hordes and the physical threats of a merciless pandemic, thoughtfully deployed technology can make all the difference to the tide of battle.
The efforts that hospitals and clinics are making to become more digital, more connected, and more actively data-driven are only the beginning. The pace of change speeds merrily along whether we want it to or not, and organizations that dig in their heels by resisting digital transformation and dismissing new methods of caregiving may soon find themselves obsolete in ways that hamper their broader missions and goals. But for those organizations seeking to be well-positioned to capitalize on the cost savings, efficiencies, and healthier patient outcomes that nearly-here innovations will unlock, investing in digital transformation and smart IT platforms is a good first step.
Over the past several months, we’ve seen healthcare providers leverage technology to quickly innovate and respond to the challenges brought on by the global pandemic. But what is the role of technology in healthcare as providers prepare for future investments?
Here are three things to consider as we look to the future of healthcare IT.
Staying connected through telehealth
The global pandemic has forced clinics and hospitals to transition nonclinical staff to remote working to ensure the safety of staff and patients. This has led to a more dispersed workforce of clinicians, administrators, and nonmedical staff, requiring the adoption of telehealth as a practical alternative for routine and critical patient consultation.
While telehealth can be a considerable investment for providers, fortunately, the recent CARES Act included $200M dedicated for the Telehealth Program. 539 applications from 47 states were approved by the Federal Communications Commission. While funding has been exhausted for the initial program, the FCC has other ongoing programs and resources to support telehealth.
At a time when hospitals and clinics are focused on taking care of patients and employees alike, network dependability and security should be the least of your worries. Network downtime and security breaches lead to poorer patient care and lost revenue—particularly in a time when noncritical procedures are being pushed out.
Additionally, a dependable and secure network makes it easier to manage and mitigate risks that could impact network scalability, which is critical if you need to rapidly deploy temporary clinics or pop-up testing sites.
But even with regular day-to-day operations, keeping your network running like clockwork is nonnegotiable. Even the smallest unexpected downtime can impact staff support, which in turn reduces the quality of patient care.
Fortunately, there are many innovative solutions to help healthcare providers rapidly scale their network while shoring up security. For example, cloud-managed IT solutions enable you to view and manage your entire network infrastructure from a single computer. You can also gain network visibility across dispersed locations, as well as monitor thousands of devices connected to it. One provider, Hospital Sisters Health System, which operates a network of 15 hospitals and clinics in the Midwest, upgraded to a cloud-managed IT system and saw significant improvements in the dependability and security of their network.
Digital transformation in healthcare has never been more relevant than it is right now. At a time when safety is top of mind, healthcare providers are looking to technology for ways to ensure staff and patients alike are far from harm’s way.
For example, one health provider has come up with a solution using cameras to monitor PPE (personal protective equipment) use from a safe distance. This deployment allows providers to deliver the best patient care possible while reducing risks from physical contact and optimizing the monitoring of multiple patients from one location.
During these challenging times, it’s important to be resilient and think outside of your comfort zone. The good news is, Cisco Meraki is here to help you do just that.
Data has always been an important tool for businesses, and the ways in which data is gathered, analyzed, and used is rapidly transforming in an increasingly remote environment. Businesses are being challenged to adapt quickly due to the ongoing pandemic and are turning to data to help improve efficiency across the organization. As more workforces are becoming distributed and remote, having the ability to automate data collection is essential.
Businesses rely on their networks to power critical functions and keep operations running smoothly. Poor environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures or humidity, can lead to premature equipment failure and network outages, and result in severe business disruptions and costly downtime. The use of sensors can provide insight into current environmental conditions, helping to ensure critical infrastructure continues to function, without someone having to be physically on-site.
Today, we’re excited to announce the newest Meraki product line, Meraki MT. Meraki MT is a family of environmental sensors that provide remote visibility and monitoring to help protect assets and facilities 24/7.
Meraki MT sensors monitor temperature and humidity data, leaks, and intrusion (open/close status of doors, cabinets, and more) in real time, so you can keep tabs on critical infrastructure or sensitive inventory at all times.
Cutting out the complexity with Meraki MT
IoT sensors exist in the market today, but they are complex and require dedicated gateways and on-premise servers for management, leading to long deployment times. The typical IoT sensor does not easily integrate into your network and doesn’t scale well. Meraki MT sensors cut the complexity of traditional sensor systems by eliminating the need for a separate gateway and management software.
Meraki MT sensors use a network’s existing Meraki MR access points or MV smart cameras as gateways, automatically connecting and speeding up deployment timeframes. Powered by the Meraki platform, the MT sensors are fully cloud-managed. Real-time visibility through the Meraki cloud dashboard and mobile app, along with flexible alerting options, keep you up-to-date wherever you are.
Improving efficiency and safety, reducing costs and downtime
The ability to have constant visibility into your site and network has a positive impact on your overall bottom line. 86% of businesses say that the cost of network downtime is more than $300,000 per hour; and nearly 35% say it is more than $1 million per hour.1
Organizations can also use Meraki MT sensors to:
Improve employee safety and efficiencies by preventing unnecessary site visits and reducing employee movement throughout facilities.
Reduce OpEx through automating data collection and lower CapEx by avoiding premature equipment failure.
Improve customer satisfaction by reducing unplanned network outages and operational downtime.
Cisco’s IoT offerings
Meraki MT provides customers with a simple, data-powered solution to monitor indoor environments and IT network closets. OT environments have similar challenges and concerns when it comes to operational expenses and site management. Cisco IoT’s new Industrial Asset Vision provides a solution for addressing these requirements in outdoor and indoor industrial environments.
If the past several months have demonstrated one thing, it’s that businesses need to remain agile, become safer, and find ways to be more resilient. We at Cisco are committed to creating work environments that can be remotely monitored to increase efficiencies and improve employee safety. To learn more about both the Meraki MT and Cisco IoT Industrial Asset Vision solutions, please plan to attend our special customer event on October 20.
I enjoyed cohosting the second “Behind the Network” webisode on September 9th with Ryan Ansley, who leads information technology at Cisco Meraki. What I loved most about the latest installment was the focus on solving real-world customer challenges, as seen through the eyes of three Meraki customers and my cohost. Here’s a recap of our conversation, along with a few of my additional thoughts. Without further ado—let’s jump right in!
Customer perspectives matter
Ryan’s story is interesting. He used Meraki solutions throughout his career and came to appreciate its cloud-native, simple deployment and ease-of-management capabilities. It made a lasting impression and drove his desire to join the Meraki team. Today, he uses Meraki platforms to manage over 5,000 employees’ connectivity needs, and can do so with a relatively small team.
Australia Post, Regions Bank, and Tandem Health shared similar anecdotes on the webcast as we discussed how each company adapted to the pandemic, managed remote work, implemented security, and re-architected future digital transformation plans. High on many of these organization’s consideration lists was the deployment of SD-WAN. No surprise to me, given the highly distributed nature of work during the pandemic.
Another common theme was a renewed commitment to investing in networking infrastructure that helps digitize business processes. From my perspective, one epiphany brought on by the pandemic is the need for networking scalability and agility. Many mid-sized companies were ill-prepared with business continuity and secure solutions to facilitate remote work.
Three trends to watch for
What is next for networking in a post-pandemic world? I expect to see three trends:
Adoption of SD-WAN:Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) may be a newly minted term, but the concept is not. I believe there will be continued rapid adoption of SD-WAN that weaves the agility of cloud and SaaS with integrated security. Integration of each element is critical in my mind, in that it reduces both the complexity and the operational expense of managing disparate tools.
Private cellular networking: I also believe that there will be increased consideration in private cellular networking given that licensed spectrum is opening up to enterprises through emerging models, such as CBRS/OnGo, in the U.S. Cellular connectivity can serve not only as redundancy to wired and wireless enterprise networking, but also to those deployments that have unique challenges with propagation and machine-to-machine communication.
Network automation: Finally, I expect enterprises to embrace higher levels of network automation to deliver greater degrees of uptime and application availability. A bonus lies in providing network operators with improved agility and time to engage in more value-added support for business lines.
I love the concept of the “X” factor. It defines a variable in a given situation that could significantly impact an outcome. In many ways, the pandemic could serve as a significant catalyst for the future of networking, given some of my previous insights into what I believe is next. Indeed, enterprises and service providers should be better prepared to support employees’ and subscribers’ future connectivity needs.
Will Townsend is Senior Analyst responsible for networking infrastructure and carrier services at Moor Insights & Strategy. He has been featured on NPR, CNBC, in the Wall Street Journal, and frequently contributes to Forbes.com, providing insights into enterprise networking and 5G. Mr. Townsend is also ranked consistently as one of the world’s top networking analysts, as measured by ARInsights.
Moor Insights & Strategy provides industry research and analysis to the high-tech industry. This blog was commissioned by Cisco Meraki. Moor Insights & Strategy disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of such information, and shall have no liability for errors, omissions, or inadequacies in such information. This document consists of the opinions of Moor Insights & Strategy and should not be construed as statements of fact. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.
We know you’re facing business uncertainty and disruption to your daily operations right now, so it’s all the more important that any investments you make will bring short-term and long-term success.
Here are our top five solutions for your business to grow, adapt, and stay resilient.
1. Accelerate your business with the Meraki platform & APIs
When it comes to building innovative solutions, investing in a platform with open APIs will provide the building blocks you’ll need to thrive in your industry.
The Meraki platform is an engine that powers everything behind the scenes of your network. It provides the underlying cloud infrastructure of our product portfolio and uses machine learning to give you rich analytics and extensible APIs to optimize your network.
Take Sally, for example, an IT director at a health care clinic. She’s looking to invest in a reliable and flexible network that will save time. With the Meraki platform, Sally can save countless team hours in troubleshooting, easily and remotely identifying issues in real time, down to the device, user, and application. No more time wasted going on-site.
To top off their cost savings, Sally is able to supercharge their business using Meraki APIs. Her clinic’s developers can use new apps in the Meraki Marketplace for key COVID-19 needs, such as Skyfii’s OccupancyNow web dashboard, which integrates with their Meraki Wireless Access Points. They’ll be armed with the ability to quickly integrate new technologies to both track occupancy in real time and comply with social distancing.
Getting started: Access the Meraki platform through our dashboard & mobile app, and/or through our APIs. Get a free demo here.
2. Enable safe operations
With many businesses having to redesign physical environments for safety, we’ve made it easy to track occupancy levels while keeping you securely connected.
Imagine Jim is an IT director at a beverage equipment manufacturer. He needs to find a way to see what’s happening in the warehouse while complying with new health guidelines. Meraki MV smart cameras are the perfect extension to their small IT team. It enables them to move away from their outdated network video recorders (NVR) to a scalable cloud-based solution.
More importantly, deploying MV smart cameras both indoors and outdoors enables Jim’s team to save time by remotely monitoring activity in and around their plant. They’re also able to maintain safe occupancy through advanced analytics like object detection and tracking.
3. Unearth new business opportunities
Discovering new ways to work is critical to unlocking new revenue streams. Our wireless products provide advanced features beyond reliable Wi-Fi, making it easy for you to find new opportunities.
Let’s say Danny is IT manager for an electronics retailer. Danny needs to quickly launch curbside pickup with outdoor Wi-Fi to keep their point-of-sale devices securely connected to their network. He also wants to enhance customers’ experiences by providing free Wi-Fi as they wait in line. As always, he needs to ensure any new IT investments provide a positive return.
Meraki MR Wireless Access Points offer a simple plug-and-play solution. They let Danny create outdoor Wi-Fi coverage for curbside pickup in less than 20 minutes. He can also happily report an increase in revenue from the built-in location analytics. By monitoring foot traffic and dwell time at multiple locations, the retailer can move staff from less busy hours to peak visitor times.
4. Prevent cyber attacks
Your company and customers are relying on online connectivity to function. A cyber attack can leave devastating effects on your business. This is why security is at the forefront of all our IT solutions.
Back at Danny’s electronics store, upgrading to advanced security devices to protect their retail sites from malicious threats is a top priority. After seeing how easy and cost-effective MR wireless deployments are, they’re able to remotely set up Meraki MX Security & SD-WAN appliances in minutes.
They’re now equipped with world-leading enterprise-grade security backed by Cisco Talos threat intelligence, which is automatically refreshed every 24 hours. Auto VPN keeps their data encrypted and allows them to build VPN tunnels that securely connect their three locations in just two clicks, without tedious manual VPN configuration.
5. Secure remote workers
As more small businesses migrate to fully remote or hybrid models, our technology has enabled teleworkers to be quickly and securely deployed.
Back at Sally’s health care clinic, they evolve to a hybrid remote workforce for their nursing staff. Sally’s IT team deploys the Meraki Z3 teleworker gateway for nurses working from home, for fast, reliable, and secure online connectivity. On top of stateful firewalls, VLAN support keeps their clinic’s data secure by isolating their business network from their employees’ home network.
With time savings as a key driver for Sally, her team also embracesMeraki Insight. It lets them monitor the performance of business apps used by their remote nurses to easily troubleshoot and advise teleworkers of any issues with their home internet connection.
Building for tomorrow
Whether you’re Sally, Jim, or Danny, we know times are tough today. New challenges seem to continually emerge and test the resiliency and fabric of the business you built from the ground up.
We designed our IT solutions for small businesses to be simple, secure, and smart. Ultimately, our goal is to help you rapidly adapt and overcome any disruption.
In the words of Bidwells, one of our Meraki customers:
“We needed streamlined productivity and future-proofing. Meraki was easy to configure, included built-in centralized management, and worked easily with our firewalls. It saved us 60% vs. traditional solutions, and enabled a new ‘work anywhere’ culture.”
Want to see our Meraki solutions live?Sign up for a free demo. Learn more about our Meraki products, or visit our developer Marketplace for our Meraki platform & APIs.
With 508K+ customers and 2.5M+ active networks across 190+ countries, Cisco Meraki is sweeping the world as a complete networking solution for environments ranging from small office deployments to very large enterprises. As the complexity of these deployments grow, organizations need people they can count on to run a well-operating, secure, and safe network.
This is why we are excited to announce the Cisco Meraki Solutions Specialist certification, the first Cisco certification that recognizes your expertise in Meraki solutions. This certification covers the full suite of Meraki technologies—wireless LAN, switching, security and SD-WAN, wireless WAN, Meraki Insight, smart cameras, and mobile device management—ensuring a well-developed skill set across the entire Meraki portfolio. The certification prepares you to adequately manage and grow your Meraki deployments as the needs of your network grow, and the confidence to ensure the solution is performing securely and as expected.
When it comes to your network, we’re always looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible. We make great technology at Meraki—from our access points to security and SD-WAN, switches, smart cameras, MDM, and SaaS app performance products—but we know there is a universe of possibilities once you combine our products with other, third party technologies. We don’t want you to “stop there” when adopting Meraki, and that’s why we’ve focused so heavily on our Meraki Marketplace.
To date, we have over 90 technology partners on the Meraki Marketplace and 118+ prebuilt, turnkey applications for various use cases including Advanced IT, Proximity Marketing, Wayfinding and Mapping, and more. We’ve even recently been able to leverage this ecosystem of partners to provide 28 new apps in four COVID-19 related categories, enabling our customers to adapt and safely reopen in these tough times.
This week we are excited to announce the release of another key application for Advanced IT on the Meraki Marketplace: a native integration with the ServiceNow Service Graph and Configuration Management Database (CMDB) through our Service Graph Connector for Meraki. This integration is part of the ServiceNow Service Graph Connector Program, a new designation within the Technology Partner Program.
We recognize that many of our customers and partners look to ServiceNow for their leading IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities and are excited to offer this integration to simplify management of Meraki devices in ServiceNow environments. This new, certified application will allow ServiceNow customers to easily integrate Meraki organization, network, and device data for Configuration Management Database (CMDB) synchronization and alert or incident creation.
ServiceNow Service Graph, the next-generation system of record for digital products and services, addresses the entire technology stack from infrastructure to the application layer. It includes ServiceNow’s CMDB, the repository for all infrastructure, relationships and configuration management information. With Service Graph, IT organizations are empowered with a broad and deep data foundation for managing the entire lifecycle of digital products and services. In addition, it underpins all ServiceNow products, allowing customers to tie together technology components, people, and processes into a service-oriented view. This connected approach enables customers to leverage their existing CMDB investments to rationalize portfolios, automate development, streamline cloud and security operations, manage risk, and understand ROI, driving high-value business outcomes.
Learn more about the benefits this application can deliver to businesses from two of the project’s leaders.
“In our development of this application, we found that using this application helped to dramatically simplify asset and alert management for our enterprise customers and MSPs. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback already on the time and money savings this native integration provides – allowing teams to reallocate budget and effort that would have otherwise been spent building custom integrations between these two environments (ServiceNow and Meraki). This native, platform level integration is a demonstration of the commitment and maturity of our vision for the Meraki platform: to enable key integrations with market leading technologies to further simplify and optimize IT management,”
– Cory Guynn, Lead Solutions Architect for this program at Meraki
“ServiceNow is leading the future of work by creating great experiences for businesses. We are pleased to have Service Graph Connector to help further enhance satisfaction, build trust, accelerate time to value, and reduce risk for our joint customers.”
– Jeff Hausman, Vice President and General Manager of IT Operations Management, Security, and CMDB, ServiceNow
If you are a ServiceNow customer (or not!), we hope you’ll check out the Marketplace to learn more about the Service Graph Connector for Meraki and other available applications!
I thoroughly enjoyed hosting the first episode in a three-part webinar series with Cisco Meraki called “Behind the Network.” From my perspective, the pandemic shined a bright light on the need for not only networking scalability to support work from home, but also business resiliency and continuity planning. During my discussion with Chris Stori, who leads the overall Meraki business, and Lawrence Huang, responsible for product and solution delivery, we delved into several topics. The conversation focused on which industries have been most impacted by COVID-19, which tools companies need to stay ahead of it, and the future of the workplace. I want to double click into each of these areas, provide insights into what I found most compelling, and draw a lighthearted analogy to one of my favorite movies.
Who is feeling the pain?
I think we can all agree that COVID-19 has changed our lives in many ways. Its comparison to the Spanish Flu of 1918 is warranted, though there are noticeable differences that exist nearly 100 years later—specifically the internet and wireless connectivity in the form of Wi-Fi, LTE, and 5G. In our discussion, Chris, Lawrence, and I discussed some of the broader trends related to the response to COVID-19 with Meraki customers. To no surprise, verticals such as education, healthcare, brick-and-mortar retail, and manufacturing are struggling given the physical demands and workload requirements. Consequently, the million-dollar IT challenge seems to lie in supporting the same user experiences remotely. From my perspective, a new tool kit that blends video collaboration tools with more software-centric capabilities to deliver network automation for higher predictability and security for business-critical applications is critical.
The work from home IT tool kit
As a networking analyst, I often speak to customers directly about connectivity challenges. It was apparent to me during the peak of COVID-19 that mid-sized businesses, in particular, were ill-prepared to support remote work. The challenges spanned remote security, network and device management, and application access and support. During our conversation, Lawrence spoke to the need for simplicity and network automation to ensure the highest quality experience. I wholeheartedly agree and believe Meraki is delivering to this end with its investment in health and assurance, a robust ecosystem that includes location-based services capabilities, and an SD-WAN platform that is cloud-enabled and secure.
What is the future of the workplace?
Is remote work here to stay? Companies such as Twitter have committed to supporting it indefinitely. More than likely, as COVID-19 infection rates decline, there will be a gradual return to the office with a balance of work from both home and office. During our last webcast session, Chris, Lawrence, and I discussed how Meraki customers embrace investment in new collaboration tools, such as Cisco WebEx, and improved home office setups and audio gear in light of the pandemic experience. A positive outcome from my perspective has been a revisiting of work-life balance, newly found productivity (something I can personally attest to given less time spent on airplanes), and the elimination of office commute time. How will this impact the future of the physical office? I believe it will result in the reduction of physical conference rooms, sustained use of video collaboration, broader adoption of location-based services, video recognition, and IoT sensors. Lawrence spoke to the latter in our session as a strategic consideration in the overall product roadmap development effort to help customers more intelligently manage office buildings. Meraki has also led the smart camera segment with its MV family of cloud-managed smart cameras, and I believe they will play a role in a safer return to the office.
If you are a “Back to the Future” fan, you remember that the flux capacitor enabled Marty to travel through time in an attempt to change events for the better. It would be nice to have a piece of technology that does the same in light of COVID-19. However, networking infrastructure providers such as Meraki have stepped up in recent months to deliver solutions to bring businesses of all sizes the networking scalability, security, and business continuity they need. To this end, I am looking forward to participating in the second episode in the series on September 9, that will include Meraki customers from Australia Post, Regions Bank, and Tandem Health, and personal stories from around the world. It should be a great discussion, and if interested, please register for the event.
Will Townsend is Senior Analyst responsible for Networking Infrastructure and Carrier Services at Moor Insights & Strategy. He has been featured on NPR, CNBC, in the Wall Street Journal, and frequently contributes to Forbes.com, providing insights into enterprise networking and 5G. Mr. Townsend is also ranked consistently as one of the world’s top networking analysts, as measured by ARInsights.
Moor Insights & Strategy provides industry research and analysis to the high tech industry. This blog was commissioned by Cisco Meraki. Moor Insights & Strategy disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of such information and shall have no liability for errors, omissions, or inadequacies in such information. This document consists of the opinions of Moor Insights & Strategy and should not be construed as statements of fact. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.