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Securing and Enabling IoT in Hospitality

Ryan T. Hall Published 12 Apr 2018

The Internet of Things (IoT) will have a profound impact on the way we do business. With analysts like Gartner predicting the number of connected devices will surpass 20 billion by 2020 and with 95% of new products expected to be IoT-enabled, it’s clear that connecting the world and the things in it will open up tremendous opportunities (and challenges) across all industries.

The hospitality, lodging, and hotel industries aren’t any different.  In fact, leveraging IoT has the ability to offer a number of compelling benefits and uses cases, like significantly improving the guest experience and effectively lowering operational costs.  How? Because IoT supports and drives use cases like:

The Opportunities!

  • Guest Room Automation: more and more hotel guestrooms will feature a litany of connected devices that go beyond laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Connected televisions, thermostats, door locks, and shower heads are just a small sample of IoT-supported devices already emerging.  This ‘smart home’ technology will bring even more comfort, personalization, and satisfaction to the guest experience.  Marriott’s ‘Guest Room of the Future,’ embedded in the company’s smart lab testing center, is a compelling example of what the future holds for guest room automation and personalization.  
  • Mobile Engagement:  mobile devices have disrupted and transformed how we operate and communicate on a day-to-day basis.  In hospitality, it’s placed new demands on guest expectations for interacting with businesses and in turn how they expect businesses to interact with them.  As an example, guests are able to check-in and access their room through their mobile devices instead of waiting at the front desk for their room.  Brands are also delivering value to guest by engaging with them based off their location to deliver more value and context around outreaches.  Services further down the road will allow guests to control room temperature, lights, and power outlets from the mobile devices.
  • Personalization: now that businesses have access to greater amounts of data than ever before, there’s an opportunity to organize and utilize this data to create a more personalized experience, one of the top trends in the industry for its improving the guest experience.  With IoT, a business may organize the personal data collected from their guest in a central platform to automatically tailor their room preferences for the next stay.
  • Predictive Maintenance & Streamlined Operations: a business may implement IoT-enabled sensors across their property related to mission critical utilities, in order to recognize and prevent disruptive malfunctions and hazardous occurrences from transpiring.  Furthermore, these sensors can alert the appropriate property staff about issues before they occur or escalate.  This extends from minor administrative tasks like replacing batteries and air filters to more major issues like electrical outages.

The Challenges! 

This all sounds great (because it is!) for the future of IoT, but it also comes with its share of challenges and risks – especially for IT staff.  Predominantly, IoT poses massive security risks for network infrastructure and the confidential data that is transferred across it.  How?  Let’s take a look: 

  • More and More Devices: IoT dramatically increases the number of connected devices on the network and also increases the complexity of those devices.  Laptops are no longer the only devices requesting access. Now there are smartphones, wearables, tablets, appliances, and a number of other IoT devices, opening up plenty of opportunities for hackers to steal confidential information. 
  • Device Updates: if a device is slightly outdated or if the user isn’t diligent about updating the software on their device, it’s much easier for hackers to locate and expose its vulnerabilities.  With companies constantly pressured to make the latest and greatest version of their devices available, an upcoming release may take priority over the firmware upgrades (and security) of older versions.
  • Data Volume: more and more devices mean the ability to collect substantial quantities of data (as mentioned above), which can be utilized to enable machine learning and more-informed decision making.  However, the sheer volume of data presents a much larger number of entry points for hackers and cyber-attacks.    

What Can You Do?

All of these challenges and risks place a heavy burden on IT staff to identify and control the devices across the network on a day-to-day basis.  For hotel brands that include a number of locations, large hospitality properties, or businesses with a limited IT staff, this level of network administration is incredibly taxing and consumes valuable resources otherwise spent on more strategic or more mission-critical tasks. 

The solution? Policy-based networking that enables complete visibility and control of all the connected devices (including wired and wireless) from a single pane of glass, and allows IT teams to easily develop and push unique network policies based off a significant number of customizable details, and provision these policies seamlessly day to day from a central platform.  Not only does policy-based networking support and enable IoT, it delivers a superior guest experience, increases operational efficiency, and keeps the network secure. 

Our Extreme Management Center offers all of these capabilities and more, providing IT teams with these capabilities:

  • A 360-degree view across users, devices, locations, apps, and networks
  • Full lifecycle management in one platform
  • Deep application insights with thousands of fingerprints
  • Integrated with ecosystem partners using a rich set of APIs
  • Security and compliance to avoid breaches and penalties
  • The best service and support you can get         

Read all about Extreme Management Center by visiting our solution landing page, or learn more about how we secure and enable IoT by reading out Extreme Surge solution guide.   

And don’t forget to visit our vertical landing page learn more about our Hospitality networking solutions!

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