2004 MSN Network
5 reasons you need a wireless
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
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
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
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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