New year, new network? Our six new year resolutions for retail and hospitality firms

Whether you’re looking to rebuild your digital network in 2019 or simply ensure it continues to remain in excellent shape, the next 12 months promise to be packed with challenges and opportunities. Here are our six new year resolutions, all designed to ensure your networks are a powerful sales convertor, rather than a sales killer, frustrating staff and customers alike.

  1. Lock down your network security…. especially IoT devices

Cyber security is arguably the most important investment you can make in your on-premises digital network. You may have state-of-the-art infrastructure but it’s worthless if your security can be breached, your critical data is vulnerable, or the worst-case scenario, your trading operations are temporarily shut down during a cyberattack.

It pays to remember that security doesn’t start and finish at your network perimeter. Sure, every effort must be taken to strengthen network access points, but measures such as internal network segmentation and role-based access must also be put in place to stop criminals running amok if, heaven forbid, they gain access.

Key network weak spots include Wi-Fi servers, Epos systems, and human users who can be tricked into divulging login details. Hackers can set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots on your premises, tricking customers and staff into logging on to these fake servers, exposing their personal details including identities and passwords.

Steps to protect your Wi-Fi network include multi-factor authentication, network segmentation, staff training, and automatic monitoring software that can spot suspicious activity and strange data flows, raising the alarm before damage can be done.

Meanwhile, without adequate end-to-end encryption and anti-virus software, criminals can quite easily contaminate Epos systems with malware and then harvest customers payment details and either commit fraud themselves or sell on those details to criminals on the dark web.

Steps to secure your Epos network include a managed firewall, segmented PIN entry devices (PEDs) and reducing cardholder data from the POS environment.

The latest network weak spot is internet of things (IoT) devices which have not had their factory-setting passwords updated. This is a simple job on paper but an administrative headache considering the rapid proliferation of these devices.

For more information, tips and advice on digital network security read our free guide.

  1. Switch to cloud-based Wi-Fi…if you haven’t already

Retail and hospitality Wi-Fi environments have traditionally been labour-intensive to set up and complicated to manage. Cloud-based solutions easily bridge the gap between traditional networking and software-defined networking, without having to reinvent a business’ entire infrastructure.

Additionally, businesses can manage all their infrastructure from a single management interface, reducing the need for any on-premise maintenance, and allowing them to manage their physical devices anywhere.

Other long-term benefits of cloud-based Wi-Fi solutions for hospitality and retail companies include enhanced behaviour tracking, personalised marketing to the consumer’s device, and both flexibility and scalability.

  1. Upgrade your old telephony system.

So many retail and hospitality firms are still getting by using expensive and obsolete telephony systems. Why struggle with these antiquated telephony networks when a modern IP system is cheaper and capable of unifying voice comms across an entire estate. These benefits also boost customer experience as it is easier to put customers straight through to the person they need to speak to rather than having to be put through to a frustrating list of people first.

  1. Go fully managed to unleash innovation

Gone are the days when CIOs and their teams were expected to focus purely on lights-on, business-as-usual (BAU) activities. In the age of Netflix, Amazon and Uber, IT teams are now expected to kindle the spark of innovation that can set the trajectory of a business for years to come. The key to liberating IT teams and their budgets is to forge partnerships with trust-worthy third parties capable of taking care of BAU tasks so IT teams can innovate. That’s not the only benefit however. Fully managed networks also enable you to keep pace with the demands for IT expertise, they provide greater scalability, they’re available 24/7, ensure predictable monthly costs and shift the burden of compliance.

  1. Expanding overseas? Take your digital network partner with you!

When striking out into new territories, businesses should first consider the benefits of taking their network expertise with them rather than automatically looking to enlist the services of partners on the ground. Why risk harming your brand reputation by offering poor connection speeds, or leaving the network open to security breaches? Retailers and hospitality companies opting for a trusted, flexible and supportive network partner can focus their attention on the customer, safe in the knowledge that their business is running on the very best infrastructure available. Replicating an existing network overseas will also bring an entire global estate within easy reach of your head office. So why risk your digital strategy at this crucial time in your growth?

  1. Don’t sign on the dotted line before you’ve spoken to Vodat

Whatever aspect of your on-premises digital network infrastructure you’re considering improving, you should contact Vodat before you sign on the dotted line.

Vodat is recognised as a leading supplier of private, managed networks in the UK retail, hospitality and leisure markets. We provide services to companies with estates ranging from 10 to 1,000 stores. We’re committed to delivering a fast payback on our customers’ investment in communication technologies through the delivery of technically and commercially innovative solutions backed by exemplary service. We ensure that all issues relating to network functionality, from the branch router to the head office connection are dealt with by our experts at Vodat. There is no requirement for our customers to monitor or resolve network problems, although a web-based access to our monitoring system is provided for you to view the network at any time.

With clients including Beaverbrooks, Ted Baker, Karen Millen, Oasis, Welcome Break, Fat Face and Poundland we’re sure we have the right skills to give you the best solution possible. Contact us now for a free quote.

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