4 Hospitality IoT Trends to Watch Out for in 2018

With our industry’s seismic transition toward providing home-like experiences in the wake of popular services like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO, you’re likely in the process of taking your wireless infrastructure beyond just offering free Wi-Fi to enabling next-generation guest journeys.

Regardless of the size or type of property you operate, brands like yours will be embracing IoT devices, and related innovations, over the next year to get you to your goals. This article from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, discusses the four most important IoT and wireless innovations for hoteliers in the coming year.

1) Location Awareness Helps Create Home Away From Home

By deploying Bluetooth-enabled IoT sensors throughout your property, along with the latest innovations in location-aware mobility and analytics solutions, you can automatically recognize and register guests the minute they step onto your property. Eliminating the stop at the registration desk goes a long way toward mirroring the experience of walking in the door at home.

As newly-arrived guests proceed through your lobby, they can receive an automated update, via your mobile app, on the status of their room. If it’s not yet available, the same technology can offer them a discount on a snack or free cocktail in the lounge. Whenever a guest ultimately heads for their room, they can set the climate controls before they arrive.

Once in their accommodation, your IoT-enabled and location-aware infrastructure will work for you in other ways. For example, it can permit guests to stream personal content onto their in-room television while using your mobile app to schedule a massage in your spa and order a beverage to arrive pool side the same time as they do. As wireless solutions advance, expect even more options, such as using a mobile device to project a preferred fitness routine onto a full-length mirror.

2) Improved Access Management Supports Frictionless Journeys

An important contributor to creating home-like experiences is reducing friction, including around mobile connectivity.

For example, if your organization still presents guests with cumbersome authentication routines for accessing the Wi-Fi, that will be on its way out in 2018. Rather than typing in arcane, lengthy usernames and passwords, you need to enable them to authenticate with a single touch – and let your access management solution handle the device identification and network security chores.

With even more advanced access solutions, your regular visitors need only complete the log-in process once over a given period of time, such as quarterly or bi-annually. Larger brands have already begun enabling this functionality across multiple properties. So, if you visit a brand’s property in New York and log in to the network, when you visit a sister property in San Francisco two weeks later, you’ll already be recognized.

Another way to alleviate friction is by deploying navigation features within your mobile app to guide guests to food and beverage options. More advanced implementations can include real-time seating availabilities for encouraging guests to visit underutilized locations. Another capability is offering guests already waiting at a packed location an enticement to patronize an option that is virtually empty.

Sophisticated mobile engagement tools can also draw data from other records to automatically detect when a large group appears headed for refreshment and offer them specials at locations where demand is currently low. Similarly, such solutions can help you redirect staff to ensure locations experiencing demand spikes have the personnel to cover.

3) Asset Tags Enhance Experiences and Resource Utilization

Even the most home-like experiences and frictionless journeys can all be overshadowed by frustration caused by something as simple as a luggage cart delay. However, this perennial bottleneck is solved by adding cost-effective asset tracking technologies to your location-based solution. Then, you can enable your staff, or even your guests, to pinpoint carts for fast retrieval on your mobile app.

Similarly, it’s a real buzz kill for guests to encounter a gauntlet of dining carts and trays on the way to their room, diminishing your efforts to present an attractive hallway decor. With asset tagging, your staff can get alerts whenever meal carts leave a room – and wherever they are in the building – for fast and efficient retrieval.

The best deployments even track how long an asset remains stationary, such as in a guest room, and alerts staff. Then a human can check whether a guest is finished or, in the case of luggage carts, may even need an assist.

But, before staff intervenes, a personalized message can be delivered to the guest, creating yet one more touch point that feels unique and special.

4) Zoning + AI = Latest IoT Security Innovations

To effectively drive the experiences we’ve discussed, IoT-enabled systems must also be secure. We’ve already seen attempts by hackers to access hospitality networks via IoT devices, such as compromising an IoT fish tank sensor in an attempt to steal data

Advanced IoT security options include the ability to group your connected IoT devices into “zones” for segregating them on your network. This improves the ability to apply customized security policies, such as defining one set of policies for asset tags and another for network-connected door locks.

Additionally, the best solutions infuse real-time intelligence, advanced analytics and AI-based machine learning. Such tools can spot changes – at millisecond speeds – in user or device behavior that may indicate an invasion has evaded your perimeter defenses. Affected devices can then be automatically quarantined and an alert sent to a designated human to investigate.

No matter what your specific guest experience modernization entails, it’s clear IoT will play an increasingly vital role in 2018 and beyond. To get the most from your deployment, now is the time to consider the options available to help your organization stand out from the rest.





Make room! How to manage mobile and IoT devices without getting eaten

Your business wants to take advantage of the Internet of Things. How can it do that without compromising security?

While not made of Soylent Green, IT defenses at small to midsize businesses are in danger of being eaten by the rise of the Internet of Things. IoT has benefits, but it also poses security risks to IT systems.

There are many good reasons for your business to adopt the latest and greatest IoT technologies, particularly when they serve and delight customers. Among the perceived IoT benefits are improvements in operational efficiency, customer service, intra-organizational collaboration, strategic decision-making, and profitability. Others cite hardware cost savings, improved employee mobility, greater employee satisfaction, and increased employee productivity. And this isn’t (sensor-based) pie-in-the-sky; many businesses are getting real results from IoT.

As such, IHS Markit forecasts that the IoT market will grow from 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and 75.4 billion by 2025.

Mobility solutions play an important role in improving SMB productivity. Here’s how to strengthen network security and management.

Serious security concerns

Despite the increase in affordable IoT devices, security for the devices is not keeping up. According to a PWC report, “The IoT is the Wild West of cybersecurity and privacy, an ungoverned frontier without laws and norms. In fact, there is no global agreement as to which entities own the platform and are ultimately responsible for its security.”

Businesses worry. In one survey, 73 percent of midmarket companies indicated that they were concerned about IoT security. Devices are at the mercy of their environment, human error, and hackers.

Given the advantages of using the IoT, as well as the security risks, the issue facing IT teams is to manage these devices, not to prevent their use or prohibit IoT initiatives.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize the risks. Up front: Some of these solutions cost money.

Minimizing risks

“It all comes down to risk vs. reward,” says Matt Michalek, CISSP and manager of information security at a midsize financial services firm.

“For example, the risk of theft might be $1 million, but the business upside is $2 million,” he says. Business and security teams usually give the pertinent information to executives, and the C-suite makes the final decision on how to respond to risk.

Given the pace of both business and technology innovation, “it’s good to revisit these issues as often as necessary to make sure nothing has changed,” adds Michalek.

Identifying and minimizing risks is the IT department’s job. Michalek, who’s also a retired captain in the Army National Guard, adopted a military approach as he moved to the IT world: defense in depth.

defense in depth strategy (DID) has multiple layers of security. Each takes into account the worst-case scenario. For example, if hackers break through the firewall, network monitoring may catch them before they do much damage or steal data. This approach is much more secure than depending on a single layer of security.

The weakest link is people

The first layer of Michalek’s DID strategy is an HR policy that ensures each employee knows which IoT or personal devices are allowed and the repercussions for violating the policy. “The human element is always the weakest link in information security,” he says.

This policy can never cover employees with malicious intent, but it does take care of those who might use forbidden devices because they’re unaware of security vulnerabilities.

The next level in Michalek’s DID strategy is internal IT team processes. “I need to make sure the staff is aware of the threats. They need to know what to look for, including the types of devices they may come across in the course of their day.”

Choosing technology controls

IoT preventative measures include several types of technology, such as monitoring, detecting, and taking action, says Michalek.

Start with physical control. At its simplest, that means controlling who can touch the hardware. Every network port is locked down until IT enables something to be plugged in. When a device is plugged in, IT can detect a device signature and, if it’s not recognized, shut it down or sound an alarm.

Next, consider what is permitted to connect to the network and the nature of the data that travels across it. Michalek allows certain devices to connect, and the rest are locked out. This is done at both the physical level (what can be plugged into the wall) and the logical level (Wi-Fi devices). Traffic monitoring triggers an alert if it detects something odd. Large companies may have 20 people to keep an eye on things, but SMBs do not have extensive resources. Instead, smaller businesses need to be smart about how to monitor everything that’s going on.

The key, says Michalek, is setting baselines. To do so, get an idea of normal traffic, how internal applications and users look, and then look for things to pop up. “For example, one employee may be browsing Russian websites,” says Michalek, “It might not be anything; maybe the guy’s from Russia. But you need to look into it.”

A simplified example of DID in action: a laptop with a camera and an IoT camera look similar, traffic-wise. However, while the IoT device may pass the traffic monitoring layer, the device-signature monitoring layer catches it and bumps it off the network.

Finally, Michalek’s team can take action remotely to kick devices on the “not allowed” list off the network. For example, if a bad device is plugged in, the network port it’s using can be deactivated.

“The IoT is by itself not a bad thing, but it’s often done haphazardly,” says Michalek. Because it’s so easy and cheap to get IoT devices, people do not think about security. Defense in depth covers these lapses and keeps your systems from being eaten.”

IoT security: Lessons for leaders

  • IoT brings both risks and rewards, between which the decision to allow or forbid the devices must be made.
  • A defense in depth strategy includes multiple layers of security, each of which provides a way to protect a company’s system.
  • IoT security measures include both physical and logical systems, each of which use a number of technologies to reduce risk.



Fueling Retail Performance with IoT Connectivity Power

When it comes to serving the modern shopper, IT performance matters. In the retail sector, businesses need achieve optimal levels of speed, security, and performance in order to create a superior shopping experience. To achieve this, retailers are utilizing large quantities of data—such as transactional, historical, and customer data—to learn customer spending behaviors, identify upcoming trends, and deliver quality products and services. Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in particular must strive to extract and implement data insights in order to enhance retail offerings, store layouts, and more, and gain competitive advantage.

Today’s businesses are utilizing data from Internet-enabled cash registers, computers, personal devices, and a variety of intelligent machines in order to better understand their customers and optimize the supply chain through inventory monitoring. These intelligent things are constantly connected and generating data on a platform known as the internet of things (IoT). According to a 2016 Business Insider report, a projected 34 billion devices will connect to the Internet by 2020, rising from 10 billion in 2015. To accommodate this major disruption, nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions in the next five years.

For retail SMBs, quickly and securely harnessing IoT data is key to deliver a convenient and personalized shopping experience. 70% of brands worldwide are working to adopt the IoT in order to drive business performance and enhance customer satisfaction. Of these investments, 81% of retailers are deploying security sensors, earmarking network protection as a chief concern in the digital age.


Source: Forbes, 2017

Retailers are experiencing a rapid influx of IoT data, and businesses leaders are now seeking a more capable infrastructure in order to safeguard their networks and accelerate innovation. IT solutions expressly designed for the IoT are helping SMBs operate with confidence, providing the flexibility, security, and affordability required to accommodate business growth.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is equipping businesses for IoT connectivity with the help of Aruba technologies. These solutions, such as Aruba Instant Access Points and Aruba ClearPass, offer additional levels of business network security as users utilize smart devices. Aruba Instant Access Points, and network switches, support a growing number of vulnerable endpoints by ensuring simply and safe access from the intelligent edge to the core. In addition to secure network access points, Aruba ClearPass enables SMB leaders to create and monitor network access policies in real time. This ensures that operations are secure from both internal and external threats.

Retailers who pursue IoT innovation stand to gain significant advantages:

  • Optimized workforce.IoT connectivity helps retailers understand buying patterns based shopping trends, weather, holidays, store layout, and more, which increases workplace productivity and reduces workforce costs.
  • Faster inventory turn.IoT technologies monitor purchases in real time and alert employees when products run out on a display, thereby mitigating loss of sales and boosting customer satisfaction.
  • Loss prevention.Utilizing security sensors, videos, and electromagnetic tag tracking to monitor in-store products significantly reduces the risk of theft.
  • Better IT management.Investing in the right IT solutions provides consistent visibility across the network, letting SMBs easily manage their IT networks and connected devices across disparate locations.

What’s Your New Year Resolution for Better Networks?

2017 marks the year cybercrime went mainstream. Security breaches and ransomware splashed headlines, demonstrating the impact malicious hackers have in today’s digitized world.


I could be exaggerating when I say that Asia Pacific is in the eye of the storm. With the advent of Mobility, Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud, consider how organizations in the region are 80 percent more likely to be breached than their global counterparts. Did you also know that half of the infected systems in the first two days of the WannaCry outbreak were found in China? While almost every business and nation is embarking on digital transformation, the majority still struggle to get a handle on cybersecurity.


So what does 2018 have in store for us? One thing’s for sure, cybercrime is not slowing down. With digital transformation in full swing, the network has become the foundation for organizations. Securing your business starts with securing your network, but that is already a given (if you don’t have a sturdy network security strategy, you should get started now). In today’s digital age, we need to aim towards delivering new levels of connectivity that ensures security while driving agility, innovation, and productivity. My take on getting there? Adding intelligence to your network, which is a personal business resolution I advocate.


An eye for intelligence

If mobile is the undisputed king of Asia Pacific, then IoT is the queen. The resulting device explosion introduces more devices than ever before to enterprise networks, revolutionizing workplaces and enabling new engagement models.


While this could translate to significant business benefits, it also stresses traditional networking architectures built for the client-server era. Legacy networks are simply not equipped to compute power, agility, and reach needed to support today’s complex environments. For instance, connected devices in healthcare often don’t have the luxury to wait for a centralized computer source to tell them what to do. At the same time, IT managers now have the added responsibility of manually managing multiple devices per person with unpredictable locations, new traffic patterns, and unknown shadow devices across a wide area.


Having complete visibility into your networks may help alleviate these pressures, but in device-dominated environments, this is hardly enough.


For the most part, intelligence is about automation: the network is smart enough to act and react autonomously. The simple act of having the network automatically identifying the devices that are connected, as well as the data and applications they can access, goes a long way in streamlining workflows and accelerating processes. This will ultimately reduce the strain on IT to cope with growing workloads, giving them breathing space to focus on innovation instead of maintenance. Aruba is focused on driving programmability and automation through its end-to-end framework encompassed through its mobile-first strategy.


With security continuing to be top-of-mind, next-generation end-to-end security solutions, such as Aruba 360 Secure Fabric, further demonstrate how they are empowering organizations to secure their business and infrastructure IoT through machine-learning, becoming smarter and faster at detecting threats coming through the network.


On the other end of the stick, intelligent networks can enhance end-user engagements. In a world where instant gratification is the new normal, having constant and multiple touchpoints—think real-time engagements like location-based marketing—is key to building stronger business relationships for healthier bottom lines. Sectors such as healthcare and retail can utilize intelligent networks to collect crucial data on user traffic patterns and automatically enable powerful BI tools to draw insights to help boost end-user satisfaction.


The technology landscape will not evolve slowly and neither should we. Like Gartner, I believe intelligence is the game changer of 2018. Having not just a robust network, but an intelligent one will be key for your organization to move as fast as technology advances.


Intelligence is my 2018 resolution. What’s yours?



Betting on Wi-Fi: The Guest Experience

Betting on Wi-Fi: The Guest Experience


The wireless network is critical to the new guest experience in hospitality gaming environments. The days of providing a poor and costly wireless experience are in the past and organizations are working to make this an integral part of the stay. To be competitive now, the guest network must meet “three Is”—Intuitive, Intelligent, and Interactive.


An intuitive wireless network is one that has been designed with the guest use cases and needs in mind.  For hospitality this is ubiquitous coverage with the bandwidth to do everything guests want to do—make Voice over Wi-Fi calls, Netflix, FaceTime, provide connectivity pool side, etc. Mobile apps and analytics are becoming a big part of this process to better help organizations engage and understand their consumer’s behavior in an effort to better refine their product which is quickly shifting away from purely gaming to a destination experience. In planning for these networks, meeting with line of business owners and getting outside of IT is critical for the initial planning and design, while maintaining those non-IT relationships is important to the refinement, improvement, and development of future services.


The intelligence component simplifies user experience by being aware of the user’s context and their preferences so that an organization can anticipate their users’ needs and populate choices within a mobile app based on location or proximity to areas of interest. Simple things like detecting a known user is on-site and adjusting their room environment to their preferences such as lights on or off, curtains opened or closed, and the temperature of their room. Enabling features like location-based food and beverage ordering both improve the guest experience and generate revenue for the property. Sensor networks can provide more data points that can be factors in the overall equation. Additionally, adding a layer of analytics that are aware of movement in the network and a specific user’s demographic information can help tailor the notifications or types of interactions that are made.


An interactive network defines the moments of engagement and is an opportunity to add some human elements to the process. These interactions should feel natural, for example some organizations are leveraging beacons and mobile app technology to notify employees of the presence of a VIP guest and allow for the employees to greet that person directly. This interaction while powered by technology is very personable and can make all the difference in that person’s daily experience. Using language localization on Smartphones could be a way to detect a large foreign group and automatically shift digital signage to their native language. People are sensitive to technical interactions that feel forced or artificial (e.g. push notification via SMS to a phone) however they are almost ubiquitously open to a human interaction that makes them feel singled out for being important to the business.


Building an intuitive, intelligent, and interactive networks takes careful planning and inclusion of a multidisciplinary team that combined have a firm grasp of the business and technology to ensure a well thought out design. Aruba’s suite of products and the open RESTful API structure are ideal for building this sort of environment.



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