Intelligent AI Holds the Power to a Better-Connected Future

By Jamie Pitchforth, EMEA Practice Leader at Juniper Networks.

  • 1 year ago Posted in

The impact of advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being felt across the world, from personal use cases seen on social media through to sectors of enterprise. This widespread adoption has caused consumers and businesses alike to re-evaluate their relationship with emerging technologies and networks, with a view to improving their lives and business functions. TechUK found that “the UK is a global leader in AI and is ranked highly in ‘AI readiness’… [and] ranked third in the world as a destination for private AI investment”.

In the networking sector, increased digitalisation has been especially prevalent as companies across all sectors and disciplines aren’t just buying networks for connectivity purposes, but are looking to improve and build on their foundational infrastructure with intelligent networks.

According to PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study, AI is forecasted to contribute $15.7tn to the global economy by 2030. The UK Government itself is set to invest £900m into its own ‘supercomputer’ to rival the likes of ChatGPT’s natural language processing capabilities. However, whilst AI seems to be a buzzword now for journalists, technologists, and a new focus for CEOs looking to scale their businesses in some relatively tangible way, how will this increased AI investment tangibly affect our day-to-day and what role is location-based services playing in enriching the experiences of the business and at an individual level?

Confessions of a Personalised Shopaholic

Over the last five years or so, there has been a marked acceleration in the retail industry’s shift to digital operations. From digital signage in advertisements through to automated store use to improve our checkout experience with the likes of Tesco and Amazon Fresh. Automated stores and self-service checkouts have established a presence on London’s high streets, which we can expect to grow throughout the UK and across Europe in the coming years. These advancements wouldn’t be possible without a secure network infrastructure underpinning this innovative technology. The continued trend of retailers putting customer-centricity at the heart of consumer shopping experiences will see omnichannel offerings grow in the coming years.

Retailers are demanding reliable network connectivity and accurate indoor location-based services.

Location-based services will begin to tailor the consumer journey in a way we haven’t seen since the creation of the department store. For example, suppose a customer were to purchase a bottle of wine on the weekend. In that case, the next time they’re in the store’s beverage aisle, their loyalty app (which has location permissions enabled) will be able to flag relevant discounts and promotions directly to the consumer’s smartphone. Of course, this is achieved through their connection to the network, but virtual Bluetooth LE (vBLE) will aid this technology’s reliability, in addition to Mobile Check-In functions such as Click & Collect.

The ultimate aim of location-based services is to deliver personalised experiences that match the modern shopper’s expectations. These new advancements will empower retailers to deliver that level of personalisation. AI allows businesses to better their user experiences, translating to brand loyalty and sales growth. Still, the analytics gathered by these applications around the individual will give retailers more insightful data about how shoppers navigate their stores. This will thereby help retailers to achieve better conversions and product sales but with the added purpose of driving meaningful consumer connections.

These retail advancements wouldn’t be possible without a secure and reliable network infrastructure. Behind the scenes, in-store POS devices, shop and warehouse scanners and interactive real-time customer engagement insights are required and are powered by consistent wireless connectivity. Predictable Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity is essential to communicate between stores, warehouses, and company headquarters to ensure a retailer's smooth and efficient day-to-day operations.

Education: Re-engaging with the Inbetweeners

UK universities have seen turbulent dropout rates in recent years. However, currently, these have fallen to the lowest on record according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. While this is precisely what we want to see for future students and the public education sector, more can still be done at a granular level to ensure our children’s development.

Location-based services individually monitor, support, and provide analytic-driven recommendations to universities about how best to engage with students personally. Through monitoring how those in question engage with the university network, student support offices can gain a holistic understanding of how they are faring in their academic and social life. For example, suppose a student has become self-confined to their halls of residence, missing lectures and partaking in fewer social interactions. In that case, this will send a red flag to the university and flag potential support that an individual may need. A balanced social and academic life is crucial to supporting students' mental health and well-being.

Ultimately, this will lead to better student support and a sharpened focus on productive mental health services available, whether the student is on or off campus. On an individual level, this accumulation of meaningful data can help re-engage students with their course and student life.

Location services can offer further advice and information around student support programmes. This can be extended to recommend suitable social clubs for that particular student to join. Overall, this network and data-driven overview will enrich the university experience with the student’s health and well-being in mind.

Optimising Patient Care in Hospitals

The NHS is currently under the most strain and pressure in history. With this responsibility on the NHS resulting in declining satisfaction numbers, location-based services can be implemented to support health workers and hospital managers in their daily operations.

Hospital employees carry access tags when they move around a hospital. We see this functional tool available in many offices, but its effective use cases are paramount within the healthcare sector. Using these tags prevents unauthorised persons from entering restricted areas of medical facilities, stopping them from negatively affecting the quality of patient care. In an institution where stress and life-threatening situations come part and parcel with the job, these tags have activated short-range wireless technology to monitor the wearer’s movements. This location-based technology can record this accurately to a range of one to three metres, providing necessary support for the hospital’s incident management team.

While this will enable quick and effective remediation, from a compliance perspective, this technology will give the hospital a complete audit trail. This will provide further insights into resourcing, security, tracking vulnerable patients and a record of staff mistreatment.

With businesses and governments making further investments in AI, location services will continue to be critical in revolutionizing the user experience – combining personalization and data analytics and providing organisations with real-time visibility, all while reducing operational costs through intelligent automation and quick deployment.

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