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Prepare for Wi-Fi 6

From traffic to healthcare, the applications of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard are set to transform how we connect.

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20 years ago, with the release of 802.11b, Wi-Fi began its conquest of the world networking scene in earnest. Wi-Fi can easily be called out as one of the most popular technologies of the last two decades. Just as mobile telephony and mobile internet, it has become a part of everyday life. And with the advent of IoT and the introduction of 5G, the time has come for the new standard – Wi-Fi 6.

Beyond being significantly faster than the previous generation, Wi-Fi 6 delivers up to four times greater capacity. Latency is vastly improved, allowing for near real-time use cases. Wi-Fi 6 is also easier on connected devices’ batteries.

So what impact will Wi-Fi 6 have on business in the coming years?

Digitisation, mobility and IoT are driving the need for connectivity. By 2022, more IP traffic will cross global networks than in all prior ‘internet years’ combined up to the end of 2016. In other words, more traffic will be created in 2022 than in the 32 years since the internet started. In 3 years, 28 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, many of which (robots, production lines, medical devices) will communicate over a wireless network. Against this background, it is easy to understand why we need a redesigned wireless standard that is more responsive to present and future challenges.

Wi-Fi 6: The business impact

“In the first phase, we expect the new wireless standard to gain a significant foothold in the B2B field, where it brings important innovations,” said Garsen Naidu, Country Manager, Cisco South Africa. “We will see it, together with other technologies, penetrate significantly into manufacturing, into the logistics industry. The technology is also more effective in high-density settings like large lecture halls, stadiums and conference rooms, so we are likely to see significant penetration in these settings too. And, with its extremely low latency, Wi-Fi 6 also promises to open up new opportunities in AR/VR, healthcare, and self-driving vehicles. ”

Ever since the launch of the Internet, every leap in network speed has had a major impact on technological innovation: 4G has brought along the age of smartphones, whilst 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will transform the business world. According to Cisco experts, these two technologies – 5G and Wi-Fi – will be widely adopted at the same time, complementing each other.

A short history of Wi-Fi

In 1999, half a dozen technology companies, including Aironet, which was later acquired by Cisco, formed the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance. The standard announced that year, 802.11b, which gained significant commercial traction, was the first to emerge under the ‘Wi-Fi’ brand. As such, 1999 marks the year in which Wi-Fi really began.

Solutions that carry the official Wi-Fi logo work consistently with the IEEE 802.11 data transfer standard. These solutions are certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which guarantees compatibility between various wireless devices. In addition, networking manufacturers have done a lot to improve compatibility. Launched as early as 2002, Cisco Compatible eXtensions is a free licensing program that has enabled other vendors’ Wi-Fi products to be securely deployed on Cisco wireless networks.

Subsequent developments in Wi-Fi technology included managing interference and increasing data stability. Cisco is supporting these with the Cisco Flexible Radio Assignment and Cisco CleanAir technologies. The latter is capable of identifying and graphically displaying radio interference, identifying the source of the problem, and directing users to other, less crowded, channels.

Challenges of the present and opportunities for the future

One of the most widespread business applications of wireless technology is office Wi-Fi. Using Wi-Fi, employees can move freely and access the network from anywhere where there is a hotspot. Wi-Fi-based analysis and location services are also becoming increasingly popular. And with the spread of IoT, Wi-Fi is becoming ubiquitous, and is today found everywhere from agricultural fields to production lines.

“We see promising business opportunities and a wide range of new applications. At the same time, with hundreds and thousands of new devices connecting to wireless networks, IT teams are facing increasing complexity. So we need to rethink IT architectures from the ground-up,” added Naidu.

Much of this need to rethink network architectures is driven by the enormous growth in wireless connectivity.

Wi-Fi has driven growth in general IT use, which in turn has led to the need to provide and run bigger and more complex networks with a greater variety of endpoint device types on them. This complexity ‘feedback loop’, driven in no small part by Wi-Fi, requires that new solutions are developed to deal with this complexity.

Cisco has pioneered in this area, using AI, machine learning, and machine reasoning, via products such as Cisco DNA Assurance to eliminate manual troubleshooting and reduce the time spent resolving service issues.

The latest Wi-Fi 6 developments introduced earlier this year make a consistent, efficient and seamless wireless connectivity experience a reality.

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Top 10 global trends for 2020

Instant gratification, frictionless travel choices, diversity and convenience will drive consumers this year, according to a new study

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Instant gratification could be big in 2020: Seeking quick, concise and multi-sensory content for instant gratification is one of the top global consumer trends identified by global market research company Euromonitor International in its “Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2020” report. 

Released this week, the new report identifies the most influential trends shaping consumer behaviour, shopping habits and purchasing decisions this year. According to Euromonitor International, the top 10 global consumer trends in 2020 are:

  • Beyond Human: Embracing artificial intelligence for automation and convenience.
  • Catch Me in Seconds: Seeking quick, concise and multisensory content for instant gratification. 
  • Frictionless Mobility: Choosing transportation methods based on individual preferences for a seamless travel journey. 
  • Inclusive for All: Focusing on diversity and accessibility for everyone.
  • Minding Myself: Prioritising mental health and searching for products positioned to address specific well-being needs. 
  • Multifunctional Homes: Doing everything from the comfort of home.
  • Private Personalisation: Balancing the desire for optimised experiences with concerns about sharing personal data. 
  • Proudly Local, Going Global: Valuing home culture and products tailored to local tastes and preferences. 
  • Reuse Revolutionaries: Finding alternatives to single-use products to reduce environmental footprint and waste.  
  • We Want Clean Air Everywhere: Advocating for clean cities and a carbon-free world. 

“Convenience and personal control are the core themes connecting these trends in 2020,” says Gina Westbrook, director of consumer trends at Euromonitor International. “Consumers are putting themselves first as they look for ways to simplify their lives.” 

Download Euromonitor International’s free report to discover the 10 trends that will influence consumer values and business strategies in 2020.

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Time to close the TV/digital media spending gap

By GRANT LAPPING, Managing Director at DataCore Media

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Up until a few years ago, marketers worked on the assumption that digital reached a small audience of high-income earners while television served the mass market. That picture has changed dramatically over the last five years, and the time has come for brands to rethink how and where they allocate their media budgets. 

Let’s start with a quick look at the recent statistics. Though different researchers come up with slightly different figures, the more conservative sources estimate that Internet penetration in South Africa is around 54%. This is driven in part by the mobile revolution, with falling smartphone and data prices making the Internet more accessible to a mass market. 

The ICASA State of IT report for 2019 reveals that smartphone penetration has doubled in the last two years and now sits at close to 82%. ICASA recorded around 65 million data subscriptions in 2018 – an impressive number for a country of 57 million, even when controlling for individuals with multiple subscriptions. 

What’s more, Wi-Fi networks are starting to blanket previously excluded communities, with private sector players rolling out hotspots at taxi ranks, on buses, schools, malls and even spaza shops. Most South Africans today can get access to the Internet from a mobile device, their workplace or somewhere in their community. 

SA spends more time online

The result is that people from all walks of life are spending more and more time online – more than half of the population spend a significant portion of the day on digital devices.  According to Hootsuite, South Africans spend more time online than their counterparts in countries such as the US, Germany, UK, Singapore and China.  

What makes this even more compelling is that digital is no longer as fragmented as it was 10 years ago. People are clustering together on a handful of platforms – 90% of Internet users use WhatsApp, 84% use YouTube and 82% are on Facebook. Many of the most popular channels share an owner – Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram, and Google owns YouTube. 

This is not to say that other digital media outlets are not effective for a range of campaigns and audiences, but rather to point out marketers can today reach most of the population with one or two platforms. 

The high level of concentration resembles the old days of TV where marketers could reach the entire audience on three channels – but with the important distinction that a brand can tailor its message to each person using a particular platform or service rather than broadcasting the same ad to everyone. 

Using the behavioural data and algorithms that the digital platforms offer, brands can target people based on their interests at a moment in time. The brand can, for example, present the right message to a person shopping for a new car or a child-friendly hotel in Mauritius at the moment they will be receptive to it. 

TV sells, but so does digital 

Over time, a brand can create custom audiences based on their interactions with its content. It can define a clear funnel within a handful of channels, and then constantly target, measure and optimise to get the best results from its ad spend. TV, by contrast, can offer GRP data but brands are not sure which people watched the ad or how to continue to engage with them as they move through the sales funnel. 

Nonetheless, many South African marketers still allocate far more budget to TV campaigns than to online channels. Ask them why and they will say that they sell products when they run ads on television. Yet few of them have experimented to see what might happen if they equalise TV and digital budgets. 

According to Nielsen,  South African brands spend R45 billion a year on advertising and sponsorships, with TV getting close to 57% of the share of spend. Nielsen campaign data from campaigns tracked across 17 top brands over three years found that digital advertising return on investment was R2,30 compared to TV at R1,30.

This is not to say that digital can replace television, but rather that it should play a bigger role in some marketing and advertising campaigns. There is no argument that TV is a great option for FMCG brands seeking reach and frequency for a mass market. But when it comes to products where the sales cycle is longer, digital and TV can work well together. 

Scale and intimacy 

In the instance of purchasing a car, for example, a consumer will do a lot of research between deciding to buy a new vehicle and concluding the purchase. Throughout the sales cycle – from purchase intent to brand awareness to researching car options to booking the test drive to ensuring post-purchase loyalty – digital is a powerful way of engaging the customer. 

The ability to track a sale to its original media source is a huge advantage, especially when budgets are tight and there is a greater demand for accountability. Through digital channels, marketers can eliminate wastage on underperforming media channels, audiences and ad messages, although it’s important that the full attribution path is properly tracked and understood. 

Digital channels today not only offer the ability to target, measure, personalise and optimise spending – they make it possible to reach nearly every customer segment from the same set of platforms. This blend of intimacy and scale is unique to digital – and it is a great reason for brands to look at upping their spending on digital channels. 

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