Creating Wi-Fi Foundations for Next Gen Wireless Workplace

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By Ammar Enaya , Regional Director at Aruba Networks, Middle East & Turkey

Mobile devices are everywhere – and they’re changing the way things are done. From the way people work and play to how they interact with one another. Technology is also altering what employees are coming to expect from their employers. This mobile proliferation has bred a new group of people dubbed #GenMobile.

This generation expects to have access to resources and information whenever and wherever they need them and to balance their professional and personal lives. For #GenMobile, flexibility and mobility are business as usual.

A wireless workplace

While remote working is certainly in demand, the concept of traditional offices and working hours will still exist. The focus on a more flexible work environment is mainly driven by knowledge workers – industries such as the financial and professional services are leading the way in this transition. But the likes of healthcare and retail will continue to require more traditional workplaces, for obvious reasons.

So what does this suggest about the workplace of the future? It indicates it will be one in which employees have complete flexibility to access information and collaborate, and where business processes become increasingly automated.

This means employers will need to shift their thinking on the concept of the workplace to one that meets the needs of #GenMobile employees. Those who offer the conditions sought after by #GenMobile are more likely to attract and retain the best talent. And more importantly, of course: satisfied employees make for productive employees.

Ammar Enaya , Regional Director at Aruba Networks, Middle East & Turkey
Ammar Enaya , Regional Director at Aruba Networks, Middle East & Turkey

Gearing up for #GenMobile

In a survey conducted by Aruba Network of 5,000+ respondents worldwide, including the two biggest IT markets in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the enterprise mobility trend, 57% of #GenMobile workers were found to prefer connectivity via Wi-Fi compared with 3G/4G or wired networks. It is therefore most important for organizations to build stronger Wi-Fi networks to support the influx of mobile devices, work style and demands of #GenMobile. IT departments can create rock-solid Wi-Fi foundations by following five easy steps.

Install 802.11ac: To accommodate the rapid increase in traffic today and in the future, migrate to 802.11ac. The 802.11g standard provides a maximum network throughput of 54 Mbps, and actual real-world throughput of just 20 Mbps. That means four devices running 5-Mbps HD video sessions would max out the network.

802.11ac gives organizations gigabit Wi-Fi speeds and ensures they are ready for new 802.11ac devices like the Dell Latitude, MacBooks and Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Over 250 devices are already 802.11ac Wi-Fi certified.

Even 802.11n Wi-Fi clients will get a boost, operating 40 percent faster on 802.11ac access points (APs). Faster transmission also helps extend smartphone battery life 33 percent by enabling the mobile device radio to finish sooner and enter sleep mode, for less power use.

Put Wi-Fi everywhere: The defining aspect of #GenMobile is that these employees connect from all locations all the time, and prefer Wi-Fi over other connectivity options. Clearly, the hotspot model of deploying Wi-Fi only in areas where people traditionally congregate will no longer work. IT departments need to plan for network access in every corner, from board rooms to locker rooms and elevators.

Organizations that already have 802.11n Wi-Fi, should consider deploying 802.11ac first in areas that serve lots of users. Then, over time, migrate fully to 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Outdoor 802.11ac APs can even extend Wi-Fi to parking lots, courtyards and sidewalks.

Manage interference: Interference is a fact of life, but poor performance doesn’t have to be. Maximizing performance requires a WLAN that constantly scans the Wi-Fi spectrum for interference and self-heals within seconds of finding a problem.

Plan for crowds: Today, each member of the #GenMobile crowd carries an average of three mobile devices. By 2015, ABI research predicts that there will be 18.8 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices worldwide! So networks need to be built with the stability and performance to handle lots of connected devices.

Deal with sticky clients: Most smartphone users suffer from sticky client syndrome. That is, a smartphone connects to the first AP it encounters and stays connected, even if the user roams closer to another AP.

That means that an iPhone stays connected to the lobby AP even though it has moved upstairs and is now at the employee’s desk. This is bad for the employee and bad for the rest of the network that might be waiting for the device to complete upload on a slow link. Utilizing a smart Wi-Fi solution which automatically moves devices to the appropriate AP helps overcome this difficulty.

Conclusion

In short, employers need to put ample mobile measures in place for #GenMobile, and soon – or risk scaring away future talent. With flexible and remote working such a top priority, and the traditional ‘productive’ working hours slipping away, organisations need to improve their mobile credentials, and close the #GenMobile gap


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