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Why Retail Needs an Intelligent, Adaptive, Secure Network Edge

Ryan T. Hall Published 20 Jun 2018

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation, and the emerging technologies that have developed as a result, have created a number of exciting opportunities for retail businesses today, elevating the in-store shopping experience for customers, augmenting the functions of the business, and creating a more “connected,” engaging store.  Digital transformation has also placed new and added challenges on retail organizations to ensure day-to-day operations are smoothly and securely run. 

One area of the business that is directly impacted? The IT team and the network. 

Network Challenges in Retail

With the advent of IoT, the rapid adoption of mobile, and increase in the number of ways a user can access the network, the traditional confines of the network has evolved and grown significantly.  The network edge is now a cornerstone of every business, especially brick & mortar retail stores, where a significant portion of their network users are guests visiting their stores.  It’s the point where an organization and its customers meet; it’s where users engage, mobile transactions occur, and IoT devices connect and are managed. 

The network edge is also the first line of defense for cybersecurity threats and where a large majority of breaches occur.  With the retail industry adopting a greater variety of on premise and cloud-based deployments, network management and security becomes more challenging.  Furthermore, as more retail organizations rely on the network (Wi-Fi especially) to transfer payment transactions and personal, confidential information, ensuring this data is secure from hackers and misuse is a mission critical goal.   It’s also where all in-store connectivity technologies are available – whether this is Wi-Fi, Ethernet, BLE, or LTE – oftentimes for retail brands this includes multiple stores distributed across large geographies – all managed by the same IT team.   

Furthermore, retail IT teams tasked to support these large, complex environments usually lack the adequate resources and time.  To continue to deliver value to their customer base as well as meet the needs of today’s digitized society, retail businesses need a solution that simplifies the edge network; alleviating the burden of day-to-day network management, tailored to the unique requirements of the retail industry and evolving with the business moving forward.  

The Solution: An Intelligent, Adaptive, Secure Network Edge for Retailers

With new product releases, Extreme AI and ExtremeCloud Appliance, Extreme Smart OmniEdge delivers on all of the requirements articulated above with a network edge solution that is intelligent, adaptive, and secure – enabling retail businesses with a customer-driven experience for their users and the network capabilities to achieve their digital transformation goals faster.

Smart OmniEdge comprises of a secure, unified wired/wireless infrastructure complemented by a broad portfolio of applications and services, all augmented by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Managed from a single pane of glass, Smart OmniEdge is the only solution in the industry that leverages the same unified network products across cloud and on-premises deployments. 

For retail businesses, the inherent benefits are compelling, specifically brick & mortar stores:   

Pervasive Intelligence:

  • Smart OmniEdge provides retailers with the intelligence to better engage mobile users and drive both business and operational transformation, a central goal for all retail stores if they are to mirror the shopping experience established by digital retailers.
  • Small IT staff – characteristic of retail businesses – are given a boost by augmenting human intelligence with machine learning and proactive AI; Extreme’s virtual network engineer independently tunes the network for the changing conditions.
  • Network issues are identified sooner or even prevented, reducing help desk tickets and freeing up IT resources to concentrate on more strategic and innovative business initiatives, like leveraging location-based promotions, rolling out a brand loyalty app for repeat shoppers, or implementing an AR solution in-store.
  • Smart OmniEdge also includes an open-API architecture to easily support and integrate with native tools third party platforms and apps.    

Business Adaptive:

  • Retail businesses with distributed locations and unique deployment requirements may leverage a variety of network configurations – cloud-based, on premise, etc.  Smart OmniEdge doesn’t require organizations to lock into one architecture or deployment model. 
  • The network can adapt and grow as the organization grows and evolves.  For retail businesses enhancing their network or even expanding their network to new properties, Smart OmniEdge quickly adapts to accommodate business needs while keeping network management, hardware (wired/WLAN) and the customer experience consistent. 
  • On the topic of expansion, Smart OmniEdge also includes the V400 port extender, giving businesses more network ports to leverage and more devices to connect.
  • Location-based analytics and services: Smart OmniEdge integrates seamlessly into location-based systems and solutions, an emerging capability in the industry as it delivers valuable analytics related to foot traffic trends and the tracking of in-house associates across locations, in addition to sending contextual promotions to in-store shoppers.  
  • When network upgrades or expansions occur, this often comes with a rip and replacement, taking away valuable time and resources (and with it, profits).  With Smart OmniEdge up-time and availability, critical keys to success for all retailers, remains steady.   

Intrinsic Security:

  • While retail stores are faced with heightened pressures to create a compelling, personalized in-store experience for shoppers, embracing digital transformation comes with intimidating and unknown security risks.  But that shouldn’t stop retail stores from embracing a new digital initiative.
  • Extreme’s product portfolio offers end-to-end network protection against any and all cyber security threats, in addition to offering a comprehensive security ecosystem that delivers integration/automated compliance checks, threat detection, and intelligence related to on-boarding devices and users. 

Extreme Smart OmniEdge network architecture and supporting components for retail.   

To learn more about Extreme Smart OmniEdge, visit our solution resource page; for more insights around machine learning and its applications in the network today, read the Fairpoint Group’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

For more commentary on the digital trends impacting retail today, explore the resources below!   

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