Wi-Fi: Ensuring Enterprises Stay Connected

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The increase in wireless devices as a result of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has made enter prise grade wireless solutions a necessity in the workplace. Despite its progress over the last 23 years, the capabilities of WiFi is still not up to scratch as a result of the large number of simultaneous connections running from multiple servers. It frankly just can’t cope, yet consumer expectation for WiFi to work, and for the IT department to fix any issues, has heightened user frustration. Phillip Keeley, Principal SE, Aerohive Networks spoke to Comms Business.

Planes, trains and automobiles

The expectation for WiFi access 24/7 is borne out of the improved wireless in the home and increased connectivity in public places. A number of airlines have offered wireless to their customers in the last few years. This has also started to happen on national transport as significant investment is being made to achieve faster Wi-Fi for commuter trains and Transport for London is currently trialling wireless on its London buses. This enables employees to remain connected during their commute and equipped to increase productivity.

BYO Connectivity Issues

In a recent consumer poll, we found that 40 percent of workers blamed connectivity issues for missed deadlines, highlighting that robust WiFi underpins enterprise productivity and barriers to this is having a negative impact on workers. As businesses spend thousands on enterprise Wi-Fi, it should be providing a better service than their employees’ home network. However, many are underestimating what Wi-Fi is used for in the workplace. The multiple simultaneous connections running from numerous servers is causing a strain on the wireless network and businesses are also underestimating the number of applications being used at work. Adding to this is the fact that workers aren’t connecting just their corporate-provided computers, but a large number of personal devices too.

The growth in BYOD and an increase in mobile culture have impacted the workplace, making it a necessity for an organisation to meet the connectivity needs of their employees. According to Gartner, we have recently seen the rise of the “business consumer” – employees who continue to be consumers and make consumer like decisions when they enter in the workplace. With strong connectivity at home and on public transport, business consumers also expect this in the office and so organisations need robust and easy to access Wi-Fi to support this digital workforce. IT departments can no longer ignore this expectation and need to improve Wi-Fi, so investment must be made to circumvent any obstacles to success. By having a wireless network which is quick and simple for users, and ensures connectivity, business can keep up with the current trends and adopt a mobile-first approach. Ensuring their employees do not lose connectivity, whatever device they are using is of vital importance to any successful company.

Maintaining connectivity

Getting devices connected securely to the network is only the first step towards improving mobile connectivity in the workplace. IT departments need to keep devices connected so that workers have a seamless and productive experience, an experience that they have grown to expect wherever they go. This presents a real challenge as many of these devices are designed for consumer use at home and so having a high battery life often overrides the need for a strong Wi-Fi transmission.

To counter this, IT departments need to make sure that they are implementing access points (APs) and routers that have been specifically designed to enhance the Wi-Fi experience for these consumer grade devices. By using custom designed antenna for APs that enhance sensitivity, they can receive transmissions from lower power devices such as the smartphones and tablets employees are bringing into the workplace. This increases the speed of the transmission and lowers the errors and retransmissions. Overall, making APs more intelligent and combining them with cloud-managed, cooperative control software will enhance the Wi-Fi experience on all devices, whether they are built for consumers or the enterprise.

The connected workplace

Improvements to Wi-Fi networks at home and the advent of connectivity on public transport, whether in the air, on the road or on a train has increased consumer expectation when it comes to wireless, and so they expect a better service at work. This has coincided with a need for the IT department to improve their networks to meet the rise of the “business consumer”. The increase in mobility in the workplace and the rise in BYOD has forced employers to make changes to their APs and routers. By understanding that there are a vast number of devices entering the workplace, and each devices has different requirements to corporate provided laptops, IT directors can ensure that their employees maintain connectivity and IT issues do not cause productivity to drop.