Custom-Designed Networks Help Businesses Leverage the Latest Technologies to Meet Rising Expectations

Categorized:  The Access Blog  |  February 27, 2024

By Bryce Nordstrand, Access Networks VP GM Managed Services

Robust, reliable data networks are foundational for virtually all modern businesses, whether it’s a company pursuing a return to the office, a remote worker joining a conference call from home, a restaurant providing Wi-Fi to customers, or an airport issuing real-time updates to flight information displays and digital signage. The rapid pace of progress in technological capabilities is also pushing average citizens to adopt advanced solutions in their homes and daily lives, raising expectations for digital experiences at work, stores, restaurants, transit hubs and even publicly managed spaces.

The rapid rise of work-from-home and hybrid work arrangements caused a seismic shift in possibilities and daily operations for businesses, a change equally felt by employees. While they rushed to adapt to daily virtual meetings and looked for ways to separate work life from home life, many office workers created or upgraded personalized workspaces with technologies and comforts that go beyond the standard expectation for a cubicle or office. For most people, the top concern was ensuring consistent internet connectivity and speeds, with some also taking greater control over their work environment through new lighting, AV and climate equipment. 

To promote a return to the office, companies and leaders can work with professional custom integrators to outfit their offices and commercial spaces with technologies that provide the same level of comfort and productivity workers became accustomed to over the last several years. 

Better cameras, speakers or headphones can vastly improve the quality and productivity of virtual meetings, but may also utilize more network capacity. More advanced computer monitors can increase comfort with bigger sizes or curved designs, while meeting rooms and retail experiences can be built around the latest large-format DVLED displays that last for years and include models that take less than a day to install. If these utilize higher-definition audio or video or lead to increased overall use, they will require more network bandwidth. Simultaneously, our evolving knowledge about the health effects of artificial lighting are leading to the use of colored LED lights or even circadian-based lighting automations, introducing yet another system that’s reliant on a network connection.

If they want to maintain worker satisfaction while eliminating a work arrangement some workers prefer, business owners need to find a balance between budgets and creating inviting spaces to draw new and existing talent into the office. This trend presents tremendous opportunity for commercial integrators to promote and install custom enterprise-grade networks that not only meet the current needs, but will also be able to support increasing traffic demands or business expansions for several years. For example, installing better lighting and advanced telepresence systems to replicate the experience of being in your home office in a comfortable chair requires a trustworthy network, which will be key to encouraging hybrid work schedules. 

Increasing network performance is a fundamental part of the custom integration industry that never slows down. In the past, networking standards would maintain relevance for up to 10 years, but with more modern services, devices and digital content increasing network traffic every day, it takes a lot more to stay up-to-date on the newest innovations and to plan for a business’ future needs. 

Due to accelerating advances, new expectations and variable customer needs, we are seeing a general acceptance in the custom installation market that integration firms simply can’t be expected to master every product or solution. Our integrator partners are instead embracing mastery in the art of running a business and their role as relationship builders, while pursuing business partnerships with subject matter experts who provide insight and training to keep pace with increased technological development.

There is nobody better suited to help integrators maintain readiness in the face of change than the experts who design and test the products, such as a manufacturer, reseller or distributor, making these relationships more important than ever. 

Network solutions for commercial environments involve dozens of variables including who the administrator is, who is responsible for the performance of the network, what systems will be connected, specific implications of network intrusions, number of simultaneous users, maximum speeds for individual users and the system as a whole, requirements for maintenance uptime and more. It can be a lot to think about. 

Working with preferred product and service providers can ease the burden, allowing integration firms to lean on professional teams in sales, marketing, design, engineering, network configuration and customer support whose sole mission is to provide the absolute finest network experience. In addition to direct, immediate assistance for RFPs, the best suppliers also provide continuing education on new products and encourage discussion among customers and experts to solve problems and identify new market needs. 

When we combine capability, experience and best-in-class hardware solutions, the end result is a network designed and built to meet the distinct needs of the users. 

Moving forward, the continued push to refine technologies in commercial and public spaces to improve experiences will drive investments and network requirements. In the immediate term, advances in digital signage networks, virtual communications and security are top concerns worthy of focus. Given that we can’t know exact future networking needs, current installations and plans should strive to provide adequate capacity, bandwidth and expandability to support business growth and new demands.

Looking further down the line, every involved party from manufacturers and distributors to integrators and end users will have to adapt to the increasing influence of artificial intelligence (AI) on virtually every type of technology and service. AI’s potential to both disrupt and improve our personal experiences is profound, and may be underestimated by anyone at any level of an organization. 

The staggering variety of emerging AI tools will almost certainly be leveraged to improve performance across a wide variety of technology products from cameras to wireless access points to smart systems. In this new landscape, leading product makers must make sure that major enhancements are matched with meaningful resources and education to help integrators optimize solutions to provide specific results and meet every clients’ expectations.