It seems that there isn’t a month that goes by without the announcement of yet another release of a smart wearable, such as a fitness device or heart tracker. These join the plethora of smartphones and tablets on the list of devices that employees insist on connecting to the business network, adding, even more, bandwidth pressures. Companies find themselves faced with bottlenecks, buffering and speed issues with their systems. It is not just the employees, but an expectation from visitors alike that all workplaces now support free wifi in common areas such as the reception, break areas and kitchens. With this in mind, these workplaces must be set up to provide good wireless access throughout the building. Wireless access points need to be located in the right locations to ensure that a high level of performance can be accessed wherever and whenever needed.
With so many individual devices accessing your network, it is no wonder that security is one of the main issues in adopting a mobility infrastructure. There is a weight of security matters and cloud infrastructure requirements that will impact businesses which embrace this new dawn of mobility in the workplace. Businesses do not always know how to spot the new security threats or even what to look for, and in embracing this approach, there is an overwhelming requirement to examine security blind spots and weaknesses.
The challengesWith business technology capabilities continually evolving, all businesses have to be able to cope with current and future mobility network requirements, here’s just a few to think about:
- A truly mobile workforce needs to be supported by a robust wireless infrastructure, with 11AC as the newest wireless standard, its predecessor, 11N, continues to be supported. Adoption of 11AC is expected to be relatively slow because of the cost and the lack of enabled devices.
- Organisational IT managers need mobile device management policies (MDMA) and must be able to know what's connecting to their network - which employee is using which device and what they are doing. Organisations should also be aware that as more employees bring mobile devices to the workplace, connecting ever more devices to the network will have a detrimental effect on wireless networks.
- A sensible business keeps an eye on the amount of bandwidth used by employees, to ensure prioritisation of bandwidth on work-related duties.
When it comes to security, two important but often-overlooked aspects include the risk borne from using any of these mobile devices in the home, on another public network, and then back at your workplace. Devices that are used on multiple public networks, and at home are subject to many malicious viruses and cyber attacks, designed to steal data and destroy databases. Introducing any of these infected devices (which are often immune from many common virus checking software) onto your business network, could bring catastrophic results to your business as the virus or malicious attack then unfolds on your business data, systems, and networks.
No 'one approach fits all'
Mobility means different things to different people. There's, unfortunately, no single white label approach that can be taken to help a business, each situation has a particular solution, for example:
- To a call centre manager, this means keeping agents focused during shifts, so allowing them free and easy access to their own devices, without using their precious mobile data bundles during their breaks, is an important part of staff satisfaction.
- To the hotel manager, welcoming hundreds of guests a month, and being to offer them free and excellent service wifi, in every room is critical to their satisfaction, and positive reviews online.
- To a retail manager, this means an easy-to-use, low-cost device, with a barcode scanner to respond efficiently and quickly to customer requests.
- To a medic or health worker, it means a rugged device which withstands cleaning with strong chemicals, allows for extended battery life and can be shared between shifts, and between people.
In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A bespoke approach, taking into account individual business demands, is the only way that IT can achieve success that does not negatively impact the corporate network. A centrally managed solution, which is both flexible and appropriate for the business needs will keep costs down.
The workplace is changing, and those organisations that are looking ahead are already preparing the workplace. Embracing mobility on your office infrastructure requires a series of reliable and robust network initiatives and ongoing network design.