Hungry For Secure Wireless – and Pizza!

November 8, 2012

by Mike Zozaya, Nexus Practice Manager, Security/Mobility/Infrastructure

My favorite restaurant makes great pizza, but I think they could use injection of wireless technology.  The entire process just isn’t very efficient, and that inefficiency often results in frustration for both customers and staff – and reduced profits for the owners.  Here’s what happened last Friday night:

  • Our server showed up at the table and took our order by writing it on a piece of paper.
  • The server took the piece of paper and waited in line with other servers to enter the order into the proprietary point of sale system.
  • The server must have made an entry error because instead of putting onions on our pizza, the kitchen staff added olives.
  • The server picked up our order and brought it to the table, but as noted above, the pizza didn’t have the correct topping.
  • So, our pizza went back to the kitchen (and became a loss), and a new one was prepared.
  • Meanwhile, we sat at the table waiting.
  • When the new pizza arrived, we were HUNGRY, and it vanished in a flash.   It was time for our check.
  • The server again waited in line at the point of sale machine to print out our check, then brought it to the table and left to take care of other customers.
  • I placed my credit card on the tray with the bill and waited for the server to return.
  • The server returned and picked up the check, then waited in line at the point of sale terminal AGAIN to process my credit card.
  • Finally, the server returned to our table with my credit card and my receipt.

Wouldn’t it have been easier if:

  • The server used a smartphone or tablet to enter orders wirelessly.
  • A secure, cloud-based application automatically sent the order to the kitchen and the restaurant manager and, at the same time, removed the ingredients from inventory.
  • The server picked up the order (which was correct because the server also owns a smartphone or tablet and is very comfortable using mobile apps) and delivered it to the table before customers were so hungry that they were ready to consume almost anything.
  • When it was time for the check, the customer had the option of viewing the check on the server’s device or requesting a print out of the check from a portable printer.
  • The server processed credit and debit cards at the table using a card reader attached to the smartphone or tablet.
  • Receipts could be sent to a customer email address or again printed at a local portable printer.

Using a secure wireless solution, my favorite restaurant would be able to:

  • Assign more tables per server
  • Serve more customers at peak times
  • Reduce waste due to errors
  • Track inventory in real time
  • Make their customers happier

Bottom line, my restaurant would make more money and I’d probably go there more often because I knew that I’d get great food, fast.

Because I can’t live without the good pizza my restaurant serves, there’s a good chance that I’ll be back at my favorite spot in the very near future.  But I’ll be dreaming about a place where the pizza is great and secure wireless technologies make the service fast, the orders accurate and the restaurant so profitable that they become an international chain.


3 Statistics to Make You Think – Round 1

October 25, 2011

Earlier this year, we compiled a short video to highlight how pervasive technology has become. This clip is the first in a series of excerpts from that video. Each one contains some fairly startling statistics, and all of them will make you think. Is your network ready? 


Work is What You Do, Not Where You Are

April 20, 2011

Borderless OfficeI was talking to the publisher at a major media outlet a few days ago about ideas related to “The Modern Office.” Ironically, the first thing that came to mind for me was that the “the modern office” doesn’t necessarily include an actual office anymore. With borderless networks and secure wireless access, more employees than ever are working remotely.

In “Wanted: Business Mobility Strategies” (Channel Partners, Apr 2011) there’s an interesting discussion about the growing need for IT to support devices of all types – personal or company-issued. But a complete strategy needs to take into account not just hardware and anytime, anywhere access, but also the business rules and policies to support genuine mobility.

Security should be a primary consideration factor in designing a wireless strategy. What devices are allowed to connect to the network? Should roaming or hotspot access be allowed? To what degree are device features allowed and which, if any, must be disabled? Obviously, data security plays a key role in establishing these procedures and policies.

According to the Cisco Connected Technology World Report, three out of five workers around the world believe that they do not need to be in the office anymore to be productive. In fact, their desire to be mobile and flexible in accessing corporate information is so strong that the same percentage of workers would choose jobs that were lower-paying but had leniency in accessing information outside of the office over higher salaried jobs that lacked flexibility.

The same Cisco study showed that two-thirds of employees surveyed (66 percent) expect IT to allow them to use any device – personal or company-issued – to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere, at any time. For employees who can access corporate networks, applications, and information outside of the office, nearly half of the respondents (45 percent) admitted working between two to three extra hours a day, and a quarter were putting in four hours or more.

With potential productivity increases in that range, it’s clear that companies need to consider and develop a mobility strategy sooner than later.


Physical Security Leverages Secure Borderless Networks

January 24, 2011

A simple web search for the term “physical security” yields nearly 13 million results. A quick perusal of the first dozen or so yields little argument over the basic meaning of the phrase. As one well-known site defines it, “Physical security is the protection of personnel, hardware, programs, networks, and data from physical circumstances and events that could cause serious losses or damage to an enterprise, agency, or institution. This includes protection from fire, natural disasters, burglary, theft, vandalism, and terrorism.”

Since the Nexus Physical Security team is exhibiting at AFCEA West this week, this topic has been top-of-mind and we felt it was definitely worthy of a blog post. At Nexus, we pride ourselves on engineering and deploying technology-based systems that protect the people, places and things that are important, providing security as a service of the network. Over the past few decades, security solutions have evolved from legacy, serial-based communications options to highly sophisticated, integrated, converged, IT-based systems.

Providing physical security as a service of the network has multiple advantages. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) software is a unique combination of video management for security and surveillance applications along with situation (incident and event) management. In Frost & Sullivan’s recent report, “Analysis of the Worldwide Physical Security Information Management Market” (Nov, 2010), the worldwide PSIM market is predicted to grow from $80 million in 2009 to $544 million in 2015, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 37%. Even a cursory look at the most obvious benefits helps explain the phenomenal growth.

Traditionally, organizations employed a series of video surveillance cameras to capture video, monitoring access points and “virtually” patrolling large physical areas. But those feeds had to be monitored or reviewed in real-time in order to stop an imminent threat, and the success rate was only as good as the reviewer(s). PSIM software can now automatically review incoming video footage, comparing it to a set of previously programmed standards and signaling when an exception occurs. The system then sends an automatic alert to a smartphone client, dispatching the closest personnel, and including the video snippet in question, so responders have instant intel on the situation or suspect.

In addition to the obvious threat-deterrent and threat-resolution benefits, these applications can also be used to improve customer service. For example, the same video surveillance system that monitors the line of tellers at a bank can be programmed to determine when the line of customers reaches a certain point, and to alert additional tellers to open when needed. In retail settings, video analytics can be used to identify groups of people throughout the store, out-of-bounds behavior, and lengthening checkout lines. They can even help retailers evaluate the effectiveness of merchandising displays and advertising by capturing customer reactions.

Frost & Sullivan’s report concludes that “Declining costs and greater sophistication are boosting the adoption of PSIM” and the advanced use of wizards and plug-and-play technology makes PSIM solutions viable not just for critical infrastructure protection and homeland security, but also for large- and medium-sized organizations.


Mobility Increases as Wireless Prices Drop

October 5, 2010

One factor that can be expected to continue driving borderless networking to new levels is the continuous decline in the price of wireless services. Despite consolidation in the wireless sector, prices have steadily fallen over the last decade, according to a study from the General Accountability Office (GAO).

While AT&T and Verizon now account for 61.7% of all wireless subscribers (up from 51.5% in 2006), the average price for wireless services was “approximately 50% of the price in 1999,” the GAO finds.

Moreover, the agency points out that buyers are generally receiving more services for their money, such as more voice minutes to use for lower costs.

What explains the drop in prices in a post-consolidation environment?

Speculation from the GAO indicates that economies of scale resulting from increased wireless penetration and the development of truly nationwide networks might be the reason. Wireless penetration has increased significantly over the past decade, rising from 38% in 2000 to 91% in 2009.

Now able to reach many more people, the total cost of providing service per user has steadily dropped. What’s more, nationwide networks have helped to reduce the roaming fees of the past, making mobility more affordable and efficient for the right-now, real-time demands on workers—regardless of where they may be.
 
The GAO’s research also points to a steady expansion of wireless handsets and devices in the market. “Wireless handsets have evolved from the more traditional handsets that offer basic features such as voice and text messaging, to smartphones that offer Internet connectivity. Over the past two years, the industry has experienced an increase in smartphone adoption, led by the Apple iPhone.” It’s no longer unheard of for participants on a video conference to be connected from their smartphones.

So what does all this mean for enterprises intent on reaching new levels of performance and growth?

It means that that the border associated with wireless access is steadily being spanned. While concerns remain about the availability of bandwidth to address the multimedia-rich demands of today’s workers, there is now an opportunity to cost-effectively expand the application of wireless services to create a more mobile and agile enterprise when supported by a borderless network.


Best Practices and Borderless Networks

September 1, 2010

We work, live, play, and learn in a world that has no boundaries and knows no borders. We expect to connect to anyone, anywhere, using any device, to any resource–securely, reliably, transparently. That is the promise of borderless networks.

In today’s connected world, business systems and processes are built to take advantage of the network. And just as business systems and processes are unique to individual customers, so too are their networks. Special network service requirements can be dictated by customer business model, or industry pressures, or geographic location, and on and on. The key to long-term savings is to design a network that ensures the effective and efficient delivery of premium service, no matter what the location or application.

Extensible systems and integrated services combine to multiply the value of the borderless network. Cisco’s wide-ranging portfolio allows freedom of choice for the customer. Designed-in hardware assists and a wide range of network and service modules help ensure that the network not only delivers rich services, but also provides consistent performance when services are turned on. Consistent services and common components also enable cost savings and operational efficiency.

Operating expenses typically account for 75 to 80 percent of the networking budget, so it makes sense that operational efficiency promotes the greatest network-related cost savings. Management expertise, policies, and best practices must all be applied across the network.

Beyond network-related capital expenditures (capex) and operating expenses (opex), you should also be mindful of costs that can be directly influenced by the network. For example, downtime results in lower productivity, customer dissatisfaction, and lost revenue. Underutilized resources result in overspending on systems and support.

Networking devices that support multiple services (for example, connectivity, security, voice, mobility, and so on) eliminate the need for specialized devices and reduce network complexity. Service intelligence and modular designs also extend the service life of equipment, protecting your investment over time. The result: capex and opex savings.


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