The demand for New Zealand businesses to accommodate employees bringing their own smartphone and tablet
devices to work offers great opportunities for New Zealand resellers. Commonly referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), this trend initially began with the adoption of laptops and smartphones and now organisations are faced with the challenge of providing wireless LAN (WLAN) support for tablets too.
A March study by the Aberdeen Group, Enterprise Mobility Management 2011: Mobility Becomes Core IT, found that 72% of organisations were permitting employees to bring their own device to work for business purposes. When asked why the company permitted BYOD in the office, 57% of respondents said the business reduced costs by not paying for devices and 51% of respondents said employees gained productivity.
This trend does not exist solely in the corporate environment. Our partners are increasingly working with customers to provide wireless networks to accommodate the BYOD trend in secondary schools, universities, hospitals, retail and the hospitality sector. Universities report that students want access to their mobile devices over wireless rather than wired and, as a result, universities are looking to remove much of the wired infrastructure, reduce operation expenses and build new facilities with only minimal wired infrastructure and lower capital expenses.
Secondary schools in New Zealand are also working to meet these requirements so staff and students can access the internet and online school portals via mobile devices, including tablets and laptops. This wireless network will revolutionise the way students submit work, interact with staff and collaborate on projects.
Retail and hospitality must also cater for these technologies. Some restaurants are using tablets to take orders and entertain guests while hotels are offering guests the chance to rent a tablet during their stay. Hotels must also cater for guests who wish to connect their own smartphone or tablet to the hotel’s wireless network.
While there are a variety of ways organisations will utilise and benefit from this BYOD trend, IT managers will deal with similar challenges in facilitating this technology change.
Resellers need to be aware of the challenges facing their customers so they can meet the organisation’s needs. These challenges include:
1. Scalable performance
Wi-Fi performance is particularly important for tablets because it is the only way to connect. There is no wired ethernet port to fall back on if WLAN performance is unsatisfactory. Designing a high-density wireless LAN means taking into account the performance implications of having many tablets, smart phones and other Wi-Fi clients in a small area.
2. Ease of integration
Tablets such as the iPad and BlackBerry PlayBook use 802.11n technology, and IT needs to ensure these high-performance devices will not adversely affect the performance of clients using legacy Wi-Fi technology. To maximise its benefits, tablet performance needs to be guaranteed in the presence of legacy Wi-Fi technology. Appropriate measures should be taken to prevent performance degradation on the existing set of wireless devices and applications, and overall network performance.
3. Strong security
How does the organisation’s IT department ensure that tablet users have convenient access while ensuring sensitive information is protected? Many tablets have been designed primarily for the consumer, but because of the high numbers of organisations allowing consumer tablets to access their business network, IT managers must ensure that they can mitigate the risk of data loss or network compromise to meet a growing set of compliance requirements.
4. Mobility with ease
Users expect seamless mobility when using mobile devices. IT must ensure users can move across the hotel, campus, restaurant, hospital, store or office, without breaking their connection so that productivity will be unimpeded.
5. Maximising battery life
IT must ensure that network infrastructure is designed to maximise the available battery life on tablets to improve enduser experience and productivity. Battery life is key to mobility and if a wireless network is draining battery life, the use of the tablet becomes restricted with charging-up time.
BYOD momentum will continue to grow and by addressing the above challenges resellers will find they are well equipped in helping their customers prepare for change in their organisation.