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June 13, 2016updated 28 Mar 2017 5:38pm

Creating the right infrastructure for the mobile generation

By John Oates

The use of mobile phones and other devices in business has undergone an almost silent revolution in the last few years.

For the upcoming generation of workers mobile really is the first technology they think about or reach for.

Research from the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that mobile strategies can have a profound impact on how staff think about the company which employs them.

The survey of almost two thousand people in nine countries found companies with decent mobile strategies had staff who felt more creative, productive and loyal to their employer. What was once seen as an ‘add-on’ to enterprise IT now needs to be considered first. It is not just a technology issue but should be seen as a key issue for human resources too because it is an increasingly key way to both recruit and retain talented staff.

Staff expect companies with strong mobile strategies to not just allow them to bring and use their own devices to work but also provide technical support for those devices. They also expect to be able to use applications which they might use in their private lives, like WhatsApp, in their working lives too.

The demands of #genmobile bring new challenges for enterprise IT departments.

They need to move away from legacy networks to systems which better support a range of mobile devices. They need bring the reliability of wired networks to the wireless world. Collaboration and remote working applications need to be as good as in-office systems and mobile applications for customers and staff alike need to work seamlessly on different devices.

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And of course they need to do all of this without compromising on security. As more and more applications and company data use wireless networks so security must be just as good as for the wired corporate network.

The first step for many enterprises is looking at their Wi-Fi network.

A modern network needs to work with a huge variety of devices from smartphones to tablets and even Internet of Things devices and sensors.
Different devices need not just coverage but also make widely different demands on the wireless network.

The business must clearly define what devices are, and are not, acceptable for work use. Then that policy must be clearly communicated to all staff. While network security might be second nature to experienced IT pros younger staff often don’t see the issue with adding any of their devices to the corporate network.

The next step is to classify the devices which will use the network according to what functions they will need and how much bandwidth they will require.

Simple coverage is no longer such a useful metric – someone using a tablet for video conferencing will have very different requirements to a temperature sensor connected to a heating system.

You need to think about not just coverage within the workplace but also capacity.
Creating such a system requires careful monitoring to check on quality of service and provide early warnings of congestion on the network or on an individual channel.

Getting hold of this data will allow you to be proactive not just reactive.

Mobile users expect applications to just work. They don’t expect to have to work out why they don’t work or to ask for help.
You need to know about problems before they become an issue for the users.

This is especially true for mission-critical applications but as staff use of mobile applications continues to increase the definition of ‘mission-critical’ is constantly expanding.

Which takes us to the final point – there is no final point – mobile use and the wireless network is a work in progress. Whatever you create now you can guarantee it has a limited lifespan – invest in systems which offer the flexibility to grow and change with the needs of your business and its staff.

The research, sponsored by Aruba Networks, is available here, along with a more detailed outline of getting networks ready for #genmobile and the digital workplace:

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