Corporate Wi-Fi – No Longer an Accessory

Peter Clarke
On: 6 Aug 2015
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Peter Clarke outlines the route to an effective corporate Wi-Fi deployment.

Alongside smart device adoption and BYOD, Wi-Fi is blurring the boundaries between work and leisure. Your colleagues expect no boundaries or barriers between the technology they use at their desks, when stepping into a meeting, heading out to lunch or working from home.

Here are five key considerations I would recommend for IT managers when scoping out corporate Wi-Fi plans:

  1. Devices – Do you know the ratio of `non-pluggable’ devices to those with an Ethernet port being used within your organisation? With BYOD policies increasing and smartphones, tablets and even wearables taking their place in the corporate world, your Wi-Fi provision needs to be an equal part of the network to support these devices – not merely an accessory.
  2. Cost – While mobile data networks are essential for anytime anywhere connectivity, making corporate Wi-Fi the de facto network on all premises helps to ensure the best possible cost efficiency. IT industry analysts recently predicted that by 2019, Wi-Fi networks will be carrying up to 60% of mobile data traffic. Corporate Wi-Fi also offers a cost effective supplement to cable networks that may need to be expanded to cope with increasing demand. Network infrastructure is expensive to buy and install, and the process of doing so is slow and difficult to reverse. Corporate Wi-Fi can achieve additional connectivity more quickly with lower investment and greater flexibility.
  3. Productivity – Which is more productive, a network that ties people and technology to fixed points or one that follows them around, allowing them to work smarter and collaborate more easily? Corporate Wi-Fi has some obvious advantages but the productivity argument gains force with new high speed wireless advancements coming to market, such as 802.11AC and 802.11AD. The latter makes devices potentially more fluid and flexible in their use, as well as simply accelerating access to data, apps or the web.
  4. Service – Workers and customers often co-exist in the same locations – think retail outlets, campuses, branches and public amenities. With mobile technology also becoming a bigger part of these groups’ interaction, doesn’t it make sense for Wi-Fi to deliver the applications they all need?
  5. Security – Securing the Wi-Fi network is obviously vital, and as the network becomes more sophisticated with different levels of access for different people (e.g. employees, external visitors, customers), IT managers must be mindful of these access levels sitting side by side and the risk of data leaking from one network to the other. Introducing BYOD policies also elevates security as an issue, as unmanaged devices become potential holes in network security. It’s therefore vital that Mobile Device Management and Wi-Fi security policies are aligned.

Consider your own organisation’s wireless network provision and whether it takes full advantage of these drivers and benefits. Wi-Fi is no longer a business accessory but a complimentary solution alongside your fixed cable network.