We’ve written before about the process of choosing the right hardware for your beacon deployment, the different technologies used and the basic questions you need to answer before designing your own solution based on location data.
These are all very important steps in the process and planning is obviously essential to successful deployment but this time we’re turning the focus to the long-term needs of any beacon-based solution. This means the tools and technology required to monitor, adjust and update the device fleet and to keep it in optimal operating condition.
Collectively, these tools are referred to as Infrastructure Management or IM. All too often, IM is overlooked not only as a cost of ownership but, more importantly, a resource for leveraging the full functionalities of beacon deployments and mitigating the longer-term costs and challenges of managing a large number of hardware devices. Without IM, no deployment can be as efficient, cost-effective and beneficial as its design and capabilities allow.
Using Infrastructure Management, you gain a level of access and control that is unattainable via manual operation and monitoring of beacons. The ability to remotely access and configure beacons at scale delivers many benefits that are impossible without IM:
Even in small-to-medium size deployments, the number of devices involved means there are performance issues that can threaten their operation and utility. Take battery life, for example. With IM, you can remotely monitor battery levels in all connected devices and plan preventative maintenance rather than allowing dead batteries to interfere with the operation of the deployment. Without fleet management capabilities, you learn about problems only when the reach a point where they can negatively impact performance. Also, alerts can be set up to give you advance warning when potential issues are still manageable and larger problems can be avoided.
There are a number of performance settings for beacons that can be configured according to the needs of your use case. Adjusting, for example, signal strength or signal frequency to fit the needs of the context can improve performance, save battery life or enhance the customer experience depending on the particulars of the case. Manually making these changes, while technically possible, becomes an expensive, impractical and time-consuming task in all but the smallest, most limited beacon deployments. With Infrastructure Management, in addition to visibility into device performance, you have the power to remotely adjust and configure devices at scale with just a few clicks. No need to waste time and manpower on inefficient manual adjustments when you can accomplish the task in a fraction of the time with IM.
Like the deployments they support, beacon software and firmware grows and changes. And as with other devices we use, both at work and at home, updates are regularly available for beacons to improve their performance, fix problems and add new functionalities. We all recognize the benefits and importance of such updates but what are you going to do if you have, say, a thousand beacons supporting your location data-based solution? How much time and effort do you think it will take to manually implement those updates? Now compare that with the minute or two it might take to install the same update over the air via your Infrastructure Management tool. As with capabilities related to beacon monitoring and control, the ability to update beacons en masse and remotely with Infrastructure Management is a clear matter of convenience and reliability versus costly inefficiency and risk.
Anyone planning a new deployment or using an existing one needs to know more about what they can gain through the use of Infrastructure Management. That’s why we’ve put together this white paper on the subject for a closer, detailed look at why IM is such an integral part of location-based solutions. Download it here.