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Customer First, Customer Last … Aruba Creates a Lasting Experience Pt.1

Caption above: Steve Wood, VP, Asia Pacific with Janice Le, VP & Chief Marketer, Aruba explaining the raison d’être of Aruba’s existence at the 2018 installation of Aruba’s APAC Atmosphere

Aruba Networks’, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, Atmosphere 2018 Asia Pacific event held in Bangkok recently leant heavily on the theme of creating an Experience Platform. A plethora of used cases and examples were shared by Keerti Melkote, Aruba’s co-founder and President, in his keynote.

First-off, Keerti shared that Aruba’s Asia Pacific (APAC) business in particular, has been growing much faster than the rest of the world. The last 3 years had seen an exciting burst of disruptive technology in virtually all areas. His APAC perspective was that if one talks to anyone in any business today, he will say that the major disruptions are:

  1. in the adoption of Cloud; and
  2. in the adoption of mobile devices – where such wireless tech is the digital tool of choice

Between these 2 trends, the last decade was about the creation of a “Mobile 1st, Cloud 1st network”, which has been the driving force behind the creation of the Aruba platform. While it all started with Aruba access points & WI-FI tech, then came Aruba’s switching tech. Last year, cold switching tech and another layer of security (AI-based machine learning IntroSpect, which spots changes and anomalies in user behaviour to cut off threats before damage is done) were integrated into its existing ClearPass security fabric).

Sounds like Aruba has had a busy decade, but not content to rest on its laurels, the company has now trained its eyes on the mission of “Customer First, Customer Last” – which is simply easing the customer/user to seamless, predictive and relevant digital experiences in every aspect of his life. This of course, will be possible in the age of Internet of Things (IoT).

“We are riding the wave of an estimated 20.8 billion connected IoT devices by 2020. If we transform physical platforms into an Experience platform, it means it must be powered by a lot of data to be unique to a customer and smart to a user. Everything will be connected to a network where simple sensors that give you temperature, humidity and the number of people in a building, give one environment awareness. Build all this into an enterprise infrastructure and the data that accumulates over time begin to build awareness of people movements including the applications used and the experiences that customers are having inside an environment. This allows the retailer/hotelier/building management to take intelligent actions on traffic, temperature and security controls,” Keerti elaborated.

But Aruba wants much more than that – because its network architecture must not only support this but be so stable, so secure, and ultimately so smart and simple to the user that it is like an invisible network that blends physical spaces with digital tech so that the experience is seamless to the end user. To provide value, the network must provide insights that are made possible if it is outfitted with sensors throughout.

Partha Narasimhan, Aruba’s CTO, introducing Aruba’s recent acquisition, Cape Networks, that will expand Aruba’s AI- powered networking capabilitiesba

 The Experience platform forged with best-of-breed partners

To this end, Aruba cites examples of transformative digital disruptions, including its participation in enabling some of these changes in a world of wireless intelligent Wi-Fi architecture….

  • Smart digital workspace – the nature of work is getting disrupted by companies like Upwork (a global freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely) which are basically taking work into the freelance domain where one is no longer employed by any single employer but is renting his time and skills to any employer at a particular time.
  • In this area, instead of merely being a functional Wi-Fi network provider, Aruba proactively seeks out “best of breed” partners to co-create apps that allow its “Experience Platform” ambitions to come alive. For e.g tie-ups with global real estate company CBRE, furniture producer Herman Miller, TEEM and Chargifi, among others, enable an architecture from green buildings to cloud-connected customised furnishings settings, intelligent meeting room booking tools to conference call set-ups and smart device charge-on-the-go.
  • Smart digital schools – schools used to be the place for learning, but now with online tools like Coursera, education itself is disrupted, so that one can obtain a respected degree without having to physically attend a school.
  • Smart digital stores – disrupted with the rise of Amazon and Alibaba so much so that physical stores are more a showcase than to sell.
  • Smart digital hotels – disrupted by Airbnb, among others. Imagine arriving at a hotel and not having the cumbersome wait to check-in, because your photo-ID, authentication and check-in details had all been pre-verified and you can head straight to your room by unlocking the room door with your smart-phone…
  • Smart digital hospitals – A proof-of-concept is embarked upon by Aruba with Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, Thailand, whereby with a patient App, the patient can order food, customise room comfort level, look at own health status, and have doctors/nurses track his medical condition even after discharge.
  • Smart digital city
  • – Aruba has tied-up with the state government of Rajasthan, India as part of the Digital India programme, to connect rural communities using mobile tech, road traffic management and building smart cities. This is Aruba’s largest outdoor wireless networking deployment ever.

Smart digital cities will be equipped with “eyes”, sensors and light

One of the ways a smart digital city can work is to optimise on energy usage.

Energy expenses can skyrocket due to over-illumination of smart buildings, city street lights and home lighting fixtures. This has created a challenge for enterprises increasingly connecting everything into a vast IoT as well as cities attempting to create an inviting and safe environment for residents. The high performance of Microsemi’s smart lighting solutions provide a more cost-effective energy output, ultimately improving lighting infrastructure and decreasing the total cost of ownership over time.


Keerti Melkote, Co-Founder & President of Aruba delivers a keynote with the theme of creating an “Experience Platform” to stay in step with the “Experience Economy” of today



Keerti’s Perspective on the Experience Platform

“Tesla today is not in the business of manufacturing cars, but its cars have transformed from a transportation tool to a completely immersive digital experience from entertainment, news to safety. Workplaces need not be a fixed place you go to for work daily but rather wherever, whenever that work is done, be it at the park, at a hot desk or at home.

If coffee beans are sold as just a commodity, the value one can bring is 2 cents per cup but if you grind the beans down, package and sell them in the supermarket as coffee powder, you would have transformed it to a product and the value of that coffee now moves up to 10 cents per cup. The next step up is to transform this product into a service. We experience this on a daily basis when we order a cup at a restaurant. The value of this cup of coffee now increases to $1.50. Starbucks took this to a next level – not only do they serve coffee as a premium product but they transformed it to an experience by creating a footprint in its physical store. Think of our home and workplaces being the 2 most important spaces for us. Now, Starbucks has vied to become a 3rd place – where people want to go to see their friends and be seen. The act of drinking coffee is just one of the things one does at a Starbucks café. The reality is that going to a Starbucks café is an experience and as a result, they are able to charge $2.70 for a cup of coffee.

Developed economies of today is transforming from a Knowledge Economy to an Experience Economy. This gives us motivation to look to the future to think of transforming it. Take that same footprint which enables you to develop that mobile 1st, cloud 1st concept to a digital platform to become the Experience platform. To do that, we have to infuse the physical with the digital to make a superior product, all of which must rely on a stable and superior network infrastructure to work.”


(This journalist was a guest of Aruba Networks to their annual conference in Bangkok).