Published on October 17th, 2016 | by David Frith
4Gon speak to UCOPIA on Wi-Fi access solutions, UCOPIA Products and UCOPIA deployment examples
David Frith, Marketing Manager at 4Gon Solutions catches up with Didier Plateau CEO of UCOPIA Communications. The pair discuss the history of UCOPIA, why customers should use UCOPIA and Wi-Fi access solutions, examples where UCOPIA has been deployed and future product launches and updates from UCOPIA guest Wi-Fi solutions.
4Gon, David Frith: Broadcasting from various countries around the world using Wireless technology this is 4G Uncovered, a 4Gon Solutions UK podcast. I’m David Frith and today I’m interviewing UCOPIA and I’m delighted to welcome Didier Plateau CEO of UCOPIA Communications. Thank you for joining us Didier.
Please could you give us a brief background of UCOPIA and inform our audience about Wi-Fi access solutions?
UCOPIA, Didier Plateau: OK, so UCOPIA was created in 2002 by 4 individuals including myself. This was the very early days of commercial Wi-Fi and UCOPIA’s initial mission was to develop the security that different organisations would expect to deploy Wi-Fi. We very quickly identified the market was expecting at this time was the capacity to enable mobile users to connect simply and securely to public and private Wi-Fi networks, what we call ‘Guest Access’.
So you have to remember at this time there was no smart phones, no tablets; it was just about laptops being able to connect on the internet and the key verticals were hospitality and education. With the launch of smartphones on the market in 2008 new verticals appear like retail, large public venues, stadiums, enterprise and the market grew very significantly. We basically surfed on this opportunity over the past 2 or 3 years that UCOPIA and other vendors as well have included the value proposition the capacity for the customers to turn their Wi-Fi investment into business benefits.
UCOPIA is relying on fewer two tier channels relying on a number of value added system integrators and we have deployed about 12,000 solutions across EMEA over the past 10 years. We have delivered services like online training and 24/7 technical support. Our customers include a mix of small and large businesses across various verticals hospitality, education, healthcare, public sector enterprise, large public venue retail.
4Gon, David Frith: Excellent, I was at Ecommerce EXPO in London yesterday and I logged onto the Wi-Fi and it was actually UCOPIA as well.
UCOPIA, Didier Plateau: Was that at London Olympia?
4Gon, David Frith: Yes it was at London Olympia.
UCOPIA, Didier Plateau: Yes London Olympia is one of our customers.
4Gon, David Frith: So I thought I recognised that logo. So moving on to our next question, could you talk us through the different products available in the UCOPIA portfolio?
UCOPIA, Didier Plateau: The UCOPIA value proposition is articulated around 3 key contributions; Connect, Collect, Engage. These features are packaged as two product lines. The first one is an internet guest access appliance product line scaling on traffic intensity from 5 to 100,000 product users and based also on feature requirements. We have an express product targeting SME’s and an advance product line for medium and large projects.
UCOPIA appliance is an all-in-one solution delivering seamless and secure connectivity for mobile users. Traceability and compliance to legal obligations is very important all over europe now and other countries as well. The capacity to connect end user data is very appealing for marketing teams and also a very easy to deploy easy to operate highly scalable solution which is very convenient for system integrators who deploy the solution at the customer premise.
The second product line is an internet service platform enabling delivery of complementary features from the cloud such as remote administration of the deployed appliance, analytic of the end user connected by the UCOPIA controllers as well as the design and execution of marketing campaign to engage with the end user and enhances their experience. This internal platform can be hosted by UCOPIA is hosted by UCOPIA or it can be privatised on demand by the service provider in all departments.
David Frith: Excellent, thank you very much. Why should customers look to integrate UCOPIA over rival guest Wi-Fi solutions and what makes UCOPIA stand out from its competition
UCOPIA, Didier Plateau: So, this is an interesting question in that the competition we are facing can be different depending on which vertical we are addressing. In the enterprise space we are facing a number of competitors. In the hospitality and retail we are facing others. However there are a number of key values that are included in the UCOPIA Value Proposition which I believe will make sense for all these verticals.
The first one is deliver the best user experience, for instance UCOPIA enables splash page customisation, provide a very convenient onboarding for new users like set registration using the social media ID to connect and remember the features which keep the end user from connecting again and again repeatedly. There’s a varied customer experience. We support over 16 different languages and compliant with all kinds of devices across smartphones and tablets with fully reference design for the screen that you are displaying and we deliver certified security which is also very important for the end user.
The solution is very easy to deploy; it provides plug and play infrastructure neutrality for it works with any Wi-Fi in this world. It can also work with wired connection as well, but most of the projects we’re dealing with relate to Wi-Fi. It’s a zero onboarding cost. There’s no need for the customer to spend time creating passwords for the end user. It provides also a centralised configuration and maintenance which enables the reseller to deliver services remotely, so good services delivered at minimum cost for the reseller.
The third key value is security, so security is key for both the end user connected on the internet for the customer who is facing legal obligation, traceability, terrorism act depending on the country we are talking about, children protection eventually. So this is very important and this is one of the very strong points that UCOPIA provide.
And last but not least we provide a very effective and comprehensive Wi-Fi marketing suite enabling the customers to collect end user data, metrics available for analytics, create reports and understand who are the customers and what they are expecting, what they like and what they would like to see improved. It also helps training, a very good end user engagement, more end user loyalty. Also bringing and driving end user to become an ambassador for the brand where the location is being connected. So altogether all key values, best end user experience, best customer relationship, best security, best Wi-Fi marketing.
4Gon, David Frith: Sounds Excellent from what I’ve seen and the stuff I’ve looked at already. It is a very comprehensive solution for Wi-Fi connection. Can you let the 4Gon audience know any examples where UCOPIA has been installed from both SMB and enterprise organisations?
UCOPIA, Didier Plateau: Of course, so as I mentioned earlier UCOPIA has been deployed at 12,000 customers premise. We’re serving customers across various verticals, for instance we’re serving more than 3,000 hotels worldwide. Example, we’re serving a number of public venues we mentioned such as Ecommerce EXPO at Olympia. Olympia has been a UCOPIA customer for more than 3 years now.
We’re also serving British Library, a very different way we use the solution because usually a British Library Depot with a one or two hours sitting in the library while usually in an exhibition centre the sessions are much shorter. We’re serving customers like KFC fast food restaurants, hospitals in London, the Jockey Club, Cheltenham horse racing course, Liverpool football club, Anfield Stadium, Edgbaston Cricket Arena and many more.
4Gon, David Frith: Excellent and it’s probably a lot of our customers and a lot of our audience and followers have obviously used and touched UCOPIA at some point without even knowing it till now so that’s great. What future plans do UCOPIA have for products or any expansions of their current portfolio?
UCOPIA, Didier Plateau: Over the next two years we have three key priorities. One will be as I mentioned the original value solution is based on appliance. The appliance can be physical or virtual, however this is a component that will usually sit at the customer premise. One of our priorities will be to enable the deployment of UCOPIA as a service from the cloud. So we’ll launch the first version of this cloud offering beginning of next year 2017 with a clear focus on small business, small medium sized business.
The good thing about cloud is, of course, providing a more cost effective easier to deploy solution to be used on a pure subscription model which means we increase the Capex requirement enabling the customer to engage over a period of time that can be short and we create also recurring revenue streams for ourselves of course and our partners.
So thats priority number one and for priority number two we have a comprehensive Wi-Fi marketing and analytics platform but there are a lot of features we are willing to add in the future or to enhance related to the capacity to collect data from other equipment and Wi-Fi equipment. For instance from the video camera that may stand at the entrance of a retail shop you may count the number of users that step in and out. That’s just an example.
All of this data collection is aimed at delivering to the customer information that will help them fuel their business and improve it. Of course we will also provide the data intelligence and analytic capacity that is required also to use and take advantage of for data cleaning and analytic capacity. Dual location is also a very important subject in a number of verticals. So a lot is already there but there’s a lot to come in the future related to Wi-Fi Marketing and Wi-Fi analytics.
The last important topic on which we will work in the future is security, so we come from the security field and it’s part of our DNA. We think it will be more and more important in the future, in particular with the tremendous growth of connected things, the Internet of Things (IoT) that very often create security breaches. We believe its very important to continue from the architecture and the Wi-Fi connection to avoid disaster for our customers
4Gon, David Frith: Excellent, so it sounds like there’s a lot of stuff in the future pipelines for UCOPIA which is excellent and shows the thought process behind everything that’s coming out at the minute….so that’s fantastic. Thanks for joining us today Didier and bringing the 4Gon listeners up to date with the latest developments at UCOPIA. This has been a 4Gon Uncovered podcast. For more information please visit http://www.4gon.co.uk/UCOPIA/
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