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THiGDesigns.com - specializing in all your web, presentation and print needsJanuary 2004 MSN Network

5 reasons you need a wireless network

The more ways there are for people to be wired into the companies they work for, the more critical it becomes to keep them well-connected.

In a world where employees seem to have more ways than ever to connect, using cell phones, laptops, and handheld computers, companies still struggle with day-to-day connectivity. For small organizations that don't have large IT staffs, keeping a growing, changing company "wired" can be a significant burden.

With wireless local-area networks (WLANs), employees can move from cubicle to conference room and back again and still stay connected. They can sit in the lobby, storeroom, or break room and access the Internet or internal servers as though they were hardwired to the high-speed Ethernet LAN.

WLANs can help small companies in these five important ways:

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1. Greater employee productivity

According to industry studies, today's professionals are at their desks only 30% of the time. For frequent business travelers, the figures are even lower. Employees often find it difficult to make time between meetings to complete their work. According to a study conducted at Minnesota's Macalester College, professionals spend as much as 48.8 hours per month in meetings. And, unfortunately, too much of this time is often wasted.

Using WLANs, workers roaming through meeting rooms, lobbies, lunchrooms, and other common areas can securely tap the same resources available to them at their wired desktop PCs. Responding to a few additional e-mails between appointments might seem like a small gain. However, a WLAN user enjoys the flexibility to stay on top of communications throughout the workday rather than waiting until 5 p.m. to deal with a day's worth of messages might give an employee vital information in time to close a deal or seal a customer's loyalty.

In 2001, an independent study by NOP World found that WLANs enabled users to stay connected an additional 1.75 hours each day, which translated to an increase in productivity as high as 22%.

Here are real-life examples of the ways companies in different industries are using WLANs to improve business productivity.

The consultants in an industrial construction firm can access job-site information during meetings, reducing their group decision-making time by 50%. The WLAN in the company's training room enables trainers to move equipment around and reconfigure training stations for different customers without being limited by the location of wired network connections.

A printing company's purchasing staff takes their wireless-equipped laptops to the parts cages to conduct inventory reconciliation online, which is faster and more accurate than writing everything down and returning to their desks to transcribe the data.

A retail store uses WLANs to allow employees to move freely throughout the store and interact with customers while still being able to access inventory and order data at their fingertips anytime, anywhere. The store has been able to reduce labor costs approximately 10 to 15 hours per week.


2. Making better use of application investments

According to the Hackert Best Practices 2002 Book of Numbers, the average company has invested $11,600 per user to deliver network applications to the desktop a resource that workers can access just 30% of the day. For a few hundred dollars more per user, companies can extend access to that network investment by more than 50%.

A robust WLAN system delivers secure performance at speeds up to 11 megabits per second (Mbps), enabling mobile workers to use the full range of network applications and tools over a wireless connection.


3. Facilitating change

If no one ever joined or left a company, or were promoted or transferred to another department, or visited from another office, then changes to the network would merely be an occasional headache rather than a constant battle. But the reality is that facilities and their occupants are constantly changing, and each change requires coordinating, cabling, attaching, configuring and testing.

With a conventional LAN, this is referred to as "moves/adds/changes." The burden of moves/adds/changes is such that a small business might very well avoid moving employees around simply to avoid the hassle of reconfiguring their workstations. Or they might have to pay outside vendors rather than waste valuable in-house resources on these mundane but necessary tasks.

With WLANs, employees can move from cubicle to cubicle without any rewiring or reconfiguration, improving mobility while reducing administrative support.

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4. Supporting a diversely connected workforce

In the past, when most employees worked from the same location, the requirements for connectivity were more predictable. Today, with the growth of mobile technologies, small companies enjoy greater freedom and flexibility in how they deploy their workforce.

Employees use laptops, handheld computers, and even phones to connect to their data. It's almost impossible to know when and with what hardware today's mobile workers will need to connect to the company network when they are back at the office (or where they might be able to plug in if they don't have a permanent workspace in the office). With a flexible, robust WLAN, these connections can be made seamlessly.


5. Connectivity in old buildings or temporary locations

Young, successful companies often have to move several times as they grow, sometimes into older buildings or into temporary locations while waiting for office space to be retrofitted. The cost of re-cabling an older building for broadband connectivity (one that is not wired for Category 5 cabling, which is used for traditional wired local-area network connectivity) can be surprisingly high.

In addition, re-cabling may mean move-in delays, which make the move to a new location more painful and disruptive than necessary. WLANs can be deployed much more easily and quickly, giving companies more flexibility in how they make their operations grow.

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THiGDesigns.com - specializing in all your web, presentation and print needs
THiGDesigns.com - specializing in all your web, presentation and print needs
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