Business Agility and Wi-Fi

Often in business, time = money.

In a competitive market, a business must stay agile; whether it is rapid development of new ideas to open new markets, reaction to competitive threats, or using new intelligence gained from data mining (Big Data) to improve their market share.

For a business to be agile in supporting the primary business objectives, technology is considered more and more of a competitive advantage but only if it can enable the toolsets (applications and infrastructure for example) needed by staff.

The computer network is enablement.  This is not to say it is more important than any other business asset;  just that we all know what happens when the network goes down.  Productivity stops. People complain.  Customer Service is impacted.

Wi-Fi has shown that it can improve productivity in the workplace.  Staff have the flexibility to move around the office or campus environments.  By not being tied to their desks they are able to participate and work where and when required; improving not only productivity but often staff satisfaction/morale and staff retention.  It takes less time to install a wireless network than to run wired infrastructure cabling throughout a building – it is certainly cheaper – hence the office is available earlier and the business of doing business is accelerated.

BYOD devices such as tablets and Smartphones drive Wi-Fi adoption in business even further.

The ‘consumerisation’ revolution has been elevated largely through maturing Wi-Fi technology.  iPads in hotel rooms for guests to order services, restaurant waiters with Wi-Fi connected devices to order reliably,  immediately and error-free, self-registration through your smartphone at events…Companies or organisations are constantly innovating using technology over the Wi-Fi network to showcase new services and/or new products.

I see Wi-Fi as a true enabler of improved agility in today’s business environment.

When Wi-Fi is professionally designed and implemented, it will always be there. Invisible, reliable and immediate, like turning on a light switch.

Enterprise Wi-Fi differences

Although not obvious, there are substantial differences to Enterprise or Corporate-grade Wi-Fi to those systems for Home/SOHO use.

For a user, these differences can be transparent.  For them it is business as usual: a password gets entered and their devices are able to connect to the Wi-Fi network.  For a business, there are valid features in enterprise grade equipment that are of important, if not essential, operational use.

To many mid-size to large organisations, requirements are usually more demanding to those of the SOHO/SMB market. The most common needs for wireless services in a corporate environment typically include the following.

  1. Coverage, Capacity and Density – servicing many clients in a contained area or vice versa.
  2. Differentiated services experience – to support critical business applications, BYOD or Guest-only WiFi for visitors.
  3. Performance and reliability – an exemplary user experience regardless of numbers and loading on the network.
  4. Advanced security – leveraging centralised authentication and dynamic data encryption for users, plus network-wide protection through wireless intrusion detection systems.
  5. Network Integration – a seamless service across wired & wireless networks.
  6. Support – the supported environment is consistent with existing operations.
  7. Centralised Management and Reporting – global visibility from one portal; leveraging common toolsets, processes and metrics to produce business performance objectives.

Most of these deliverables can only be achieved with enterprise-grade wireless solutions.  SOHO devices, as the name suggests, are otherwise perfect for a single instance of a small or home office, but do not have the ability to scale or to offer enterprise features.

In the end, its worth considering your business requirements from a different perspective.  It’s possible that you may arrive at a solution that was not expected.