Posts Tagged ‘SMAC’

Retail Analytics: Who Owns The Data?

January 14th, 2014

At AirTight Networks, we talk a lot of SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud). Together these forces have come together to significantly impact and radically change various markets. It’s not hard to wax eloquent about SMAC for long periods of time, but in this article, I want to focus only on the Analytics piece – that numerical, statistical, miracle whip that drives business decisions.

Analytics Data: Type and Collection

In the SMAC model using Wi-Fi as the Mobile piece, data is collected from Wi-Fi access points. The analytics data itself generally falls into one of two categories: 1) Presence, and 2) Opt-in.

Presence Analytics
Presence Analytics is, as it sounds, focused around whether the client device is on-location (“present”) and whether it is inside or outside a boundary (e.g. a store front). This type of data is device-specific (MAC Address), independent from the user of a device (contains no user-identifying information), and therefore anonymous. It is collected by using Access Points (APs) to scan the air and to gather MAC addresses (which only a hashed representation thereof is stored). Presence Analytics can be used for a variety of things, but some examples might include:

  • Understanding total foot traffic (e.g. how many visitors came to your location)
  • Understanding capture rate of visitor traffic (e.g. which visitors came inside your store front and which ones stayed outside)
  • Understanding dwell time (e.g. visit duration) either inside or outside your location

AirTight Presence Analytics

The same capability that enables Presence Analytics also enables similar functions like Loyalty Analytics. Examples of this might be:

  • Understanding visitor frequency (how often do they come to see you?)
  • Understanding visit recency (when was the last time they came to see you?)
  • Understanding repeat visitor information (how many times have they come to this location over a period of time?)

Analytics: Unique visitors

Opt-in Analytics
Opt-in Analytics are obtained through a process whereby a person uses his/her mobile device to willingly engage the wireless infrastructure (and associated back-end systems). The typical scenario involves the use of a Captive Web Portal (CWP) to display terms and conditions and to allow the user to authenticate (log in) using one or more methods, such as:

  • Phone Number with SMS verification
  • Social Media integration (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn login APIs)
  • Guestbook function where the user fills out a web form

Regardless of the process, the user is agreeing to the use policy in order to obtain a benefit, which is most often free Wi-Fi access, promotional coupons, location services, or perhaps all of these and more. The use policy allows the infrastructure to collect a specific amount of the user’s personal information that is determined by the user at the time of authentication.

Other Types of Analytics

Of course, all of those are just simple examples, but to be honest, analytics can get pretty sophisticated. Consider other types of relevant data, such as Engagement Analytics and Wi-Fi Usage Analytics.

Engagement Analytics 
Engagement Analytics might, for example, consist of:

  • Conversion and Bounce Rates (Did they come inside or stay outside? Did they use the Wi-Fi while in the store? Did they buy anything while in the store?)
  • Social Media Wi-Fi Authentication Visitor Logs (Who are they?)
  • Social Media Wi-Fi Authentication Demographics (How old? Male/Female? Where do they live?)

Engagement Analytics

Engagement Analytics allow the organization owner to pair up the device (which is identified with Presence Analytics capabilities) with the user of the device (which is possible because of Opt-in capabilities) and then tie those capabilities into back-end systems such as their CRM. That CRM system could then be used, in conjunction with the wireless infrastructure system and analytics engine, to:

  • Identify and locate a user’s device when it arrives on-location
  • Understand the owner of the device’s habits and desires (e.g. purchasing habits/desires if in retail)
  • Push context-relevant, location-relevant, and personalized content to the user in a timely fashion
  • Provide an entertaining experience while on-location

It might sound space-age, but it’s the holy grail of the retail market right now, and other markets will likely follow suit when retail has proven that it can be done well, end-to-end.

Wi-Fi Usage Analytics might, for example, consist of:

  • Device Types
  • Data Traffic
  • Session Duration

Having access to data such as average session duration may allow a quick service restaurant (QSR) to make a decision about how to configure their Wi-Fi infrastructure system. Some Wi-Fi infrastructure systems have a “black out timer” that imposes a no-use time after a configured period of use time. This type of data may help a coffee shop decide on whether to write their new mobile app for iOS or Android first. It may allow a financial services firm to decide on whether to upgrade their Internet backhaul pipe or apply protocol filtering to block peer-to-peer file sharing applications. There are 101 uses for Wi-Fi Usage Analytics.

All that rich data is just waiting to be mined for business-transforming information that can be easily organized into useful formats and compared across locations, and can help you decide on marketing spend and business expansion. All you need to get started is the right Wi-Fi solution.

Analytics Data Ownership

“Houston, we have a problem.” Yeah, that’s you when you find out that you don’t own the data…

“Say what? That doesn’t sound right…are you sure? Wait…where’s my contract! What do you MEAN I don’t own the data?” Yep, that’s you again…quickly growing worried and agitated since you’re the one who recommended the Wi-Fi vendor who’s either holding onto your analytics data awaiting ridiculous additional monthly fees or who has an analytics business partner who’s trying to perform unnatural acts with your wallet while the Wi-Fi vendor keeps you distracted.

“But it’s my system! It should be MY data! These are MY customers for crying out loud…who else’s data would it be?”

Oh, don’t worry… your analytics vendor has you covered. They can fix you up for… $_______ per AP per year. Or as my man Alan Jackson might say, “But don’t be downhearted, I can fix it for you, Sonny; It won’t take too long, it’ll just take money.”

Of course, if you buy AirTight Networks Wi-Fi and analytics, YOU own the data.




Retail, WiFi Access ,

Evaluating a Wi-Fi Solutions Provider? Make Sure They Talk SMAC

July 15th, 2013


Applying the Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) model to your Retail Wi-Fi Investment


Figure 1: Gartner Nexus of Forces is the convergence of social, mobile, information (analytics), and cloud to transform business and IT.

Figure 1: Gartner Nexus of Forces is the convergence of social, mobile, information (analytics), and cloud to transform business and IT.

Social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies are high on everyone’s investment priorities list—so much so that SMAC has become the new enterprise IT model. Research firm Gartner refers to the trend as the Nexus of Forces, a convergence of technologies that is building upon and transforming consumer behavior and ushering in the next-generation of business technology.


“Although these forces are innovative and disruptive on their own, together they are revolutionizing business and society, disrupting old business models and creating new leaders,” says Gartner. Therefore, the SMAC model calls for evaluating individual technology investments by how well it helps you integrate social, mobile, analytics and cloud services to transform your enterprise.


According to RIS’s Store Systems Study 2013, retailers highest investment priority is mobile, and rightfully so. A lynchpin technology for enabling mobility in brick-and-mortar retail is Wi-Fi.


Does your Wi-Fi solution provider pass the SMAC test?


Here’s a few things to look for when evaluating Wi-Fi for large, distributed retail environments:


Social Integration


Social is a major driver of SMAC. It was largely people’s desire to socially interact with friends and family on the go that drove the rapid adoption of smart devices, so make sure social is integrated into your Wi-Fi solution. Social integration allows customers to login to your guest Wi-Fi via their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ account, making it super easy and far more likely.

Retailers not only gain a mechanism for rapidly growing their followers and fan base with high-value users—those consumers who have already visited their store—but can now put a name to what was otherwise an anonymous shopper. Armed with this information, retailers can integrate an individual’s in-store shopping experience with her online habits and customer loyalty programs to send highly personalized and relevant, location-based offers, coupons or other information directly to her mobile device. The customer, in turn, can opt to share that information and positive brand experience with her own social network of friends and family. And the cycle continues.


Omnichannel Technologies to Maximize Holiday Sales and Profits | webinar via @RISnewsinsights

Date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 | 2:00 pm ET |  1 hour  (archive version will be available)

Moderator: Joe Skorupa, Editor-in-Chief, RIS News

Panelists: Robert Fort, Former CIO of Wet Seal and Kevin S. McCauley, Director, Retail Market Development, AirTight Networks


Secure Mobile


8 Steps to Secure Retail Wi-Fi | AirTight INFOGRAPHIC

8 Steps to Secure Retail Wi-Fi | AirTight INFOGRAPHIC

You may be inclined to think that any Wi-Fi solution would meet the “M” for mobile SMAC requirement. However, in retail environments where payment information is exchanged over the network, secure mobile with a capital “S” is of paramount importance. As you investigate WLAN vendors, make sure they have a complete solution for PCI-DSS compliance and reporting. For large, distributed environments, security should be automated and simple to deploy, manage and maintain with little or no local IT support. Look for features such as automated scanning for detection of rogue devices or “man in the middle” attacks, and automated preventative measures and actions for immediately eliminating the threat.


Even environments that don’t yet offer guest Wi-Fi access should have a solution in place for dealing with bad guys who may be out to scam your customers and possibly harm your reputation. Therefore, look for solution providers who can offer you wired and wireless intrusion prevention that can evolve and scale to provide you with the access you’ll need when you’re ready.


Is Your Wireless Safe? |by  Airtight CTO Pravin Bhagwat via @QSRmagazine




Customer analytics provides valuable business intelligence to increase customer loyalty, engagement and revenue. However, because customer data comes from a large and growing variety of sources—through social interactions, loyalty programs, POS systems, online browsing history and in-store real-time browsing—no where is SMAC integration more important.


AirTight Social Wi-Fi Solution Brief


A good Wi-Fi analytics report should provide real-time and historical trends such as number of Wi-Fi user devices present in or near the store, type of device, where they are located, how long they linger, and at what time of day. It should also provide information on repeat visitors of specific stores and groups of stores. When integrated with social media, analytics become far more powerful and personalized, providing not only the identity of mobile in-store shoppers, but information such as “likes” and interests to help push highly targeted and relevant offers and information to your customers.




Not all cloud-based Wi-Fi solutions are equal.  Look for a controller-less architecture that is purpose-built for large, distributed enterprises. Things to watch for:


  • Scalability and multi-tenant support

Controller Wi-Fi, controller-less Wi-Fi, cloud Wi-FiThe solution should be able to scale to tens of thousands of locations or devices. A hierarchical location-based architecture should enable multi-tenancy (the ability to separate accounts, configurations and data) within a single customer account (e.g., corporate vs. franchisee, or across multiple brands)


  • Reliability

Your vendor’s globally distributed data center environment should offer four nines (99.99%) uptime and local and WAN-based high availability and redundancy. While managed via the cloud, all of your access points and sensors should be able to operate even when connectivity to the cloud is lost.


Airtight will be talking SMAC at #WFD5 | August 7-9 2013

Airtight will be talking SMAC at #WFD5 | August 7-9 2013


  • Location-aware centralized management

Web-based management should be simple and intuitive, and provide administrators with access and reporting based on their role and the locations that they manage.


  • Zero-touch provisioning

Solutions should be plug and play, requiring no IT staff at remote locations. Access points and sensors should be automatically discoverable and configured when connected to the cloud.


Focus on the Customer Experience


At the heart of the SMAC model is relentless attention to the customer experienceRetailers are strategically deploying SMAC across key business processes and technology deployments, combining the best of virtual and physical retail shopping to create data-rich, personalized channel-agnostic customer experiences.

At the heart of the SMAC model is relentless attention to the customer experience.

By focusing on the way customers like to shop and consume information, and enabling those experiences with technologies such as in-store Wi-Fi with integrated social, mobile, analytics and cloud services, forward-thinking companies will continue to compete in this rapidly changing digital world.


 According to the recent IBM study, From Transactions to Relationships: connecting with a transitioning shopper, what consumers want is a personalized in-store experience that not only mirrors the experience they get with online shopping, but is seamlessly integrated with their on- and offline shopping habits, preferences and history.

Dr.Nadia Shouraboura talks about how online and offline retail can come together to create the perfect shopping experience. 

Additional Information:




Other blog posts by @LinaArseneault


Best practices, mobile device management, PCI, WiFi Access, Wireless security, WLAN networks, WLAN planning , , , , ,