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5 Considerations in a Down Economy

Tue, 02/24/2009 - 12:41pm
Chris Kozup

If you’re like me, you’re working hard to hold on to your innate optimism through the current economic doom and gloom. It’s almost impossible to open a newspaper or turn on a TV without catching a whiff of uncertainty. Yet I believe those with a keen sense for opportunity will not only navigate successfully through these turbulent times, but make the tough IT decisions that will put them in the best possible position for the future. However, sorting the opportunity from the risk is not always an easy task.

Chris Kozup
Chris Kozup

IT is certainly not immune to the effects of shrinking budgets. More than ever, projects and capital expenditures are being re-evaluated. Still, a couple of bright spots persist. In recent discussions with customers, it’s clear that any project that reduces operational costs will rise to the top of the consideration list. Businesses continue to make investments in mobility as a way to improve employee productivity and enhance collaboration. Users expect IT support for a plethora of new mobile devices and applications, and these expectations combined with proven productivity benefits are driving continued investment in mobility and wireless.

Still, such investments must be carefully evaluated to ensure the highest return possible. Here are five points where mobility and wireless technologies can help either reduce costs or improve productivity.

Streamline Facilities
Wireless is enabling a more collaborative workspace, one in which employees are not bound by physical location, rather they are free to collaborate and work anywhere. Enterprises are using mobility and wireless as a way of reducing facilities costs. Specifically, more collaborative workspaces allow for a higher density of employees to be collocated in a single space. Flexible working options such as hoteling and teleworking further reduce the need for physical office space.

The aggregate result for the business is a reduction in overall facilities space, including the related costs of maintaining, powering and heating or cooling a building. Furthermore, a wireless office delivers more flexibility for moves, adds and changes along with reducing the cost of fixed infrastructure such as cabling.

Enhance Productivity
The employee demand for access to network resources and applications is unprecedented. Ask any general user and they’ll tell you they expect the same application performance over wireless networks as they enjoy on the wired network.

The good news is current wireless systems have significantly closed the gap between wired and wireless performance; to the point where businesses are realizing new productivity gains from a truly mobile workforce. More than most technologies, mobility has direct implications as to how we work and a shorter time to return on investment than alternative technologies. By maintaining an investment in wireless and mobility, businesses can improve employee productivity at a time when increasing resources is not feasible.

Reduce MDM Costs
With the number of mobile devices entering the business expected to increase exponentially over the coming years, businesses will be faced with securing and managing these devices. Leading analysts claim that of the IT resources dedicated to mobility, 80 percent of those are spent on the mobile device itself. As such, the organization can save significant amounts in provisioning, deployment and helpdesk costs by making relatively small investments in a standardized approach to mobile device management. Wireless systems that integrate the device and provide troubleshooting tools will greatly simplify the otherwise challenging task of supporting a plethora of new mobile platforms.

Maintain Investment in Wireless Security
Even during times of economic downturn, security must remain a key focus area. This is especially the case for wireless given the number of relatively high-profile wireless security breaches that have occurred over the past couple of years. With more attacks being motivated by financial gain, wireless has become a more attractive medium. Enterprises must maintain investment in wireless security – especially as it relates to comprehensive wireless intrusion prevention tools – as a means to maintain the integrity of corporate information. Failure to invest may result in a much larger financial impact due to a possible security breach.

Do More with Next-Gen Wireless
The concept of doing more with less definitely resonates in times of contracting budgets. New wireless technologies like 802.11n provide significant enhancements in performance that allow businesses to invest for current and future mobility applications. With up to 9x the bandwidth of existing wireless networks, 802.11n allows organizations to support a broad variety of applications, including media-rich and collaborative applications like video and voice. Furthermore, 802.11n business applications that were once confined to the wired network can now be delivered seamlessly over the wireless network and technology enhancements such as beam forming allow IT to extend the useful life of existing mobile devices by increasing their performance along side that of newer 802.11n devices.

Mobility and wireless technologies deliver strong return on investment. Businesses can respond to user demands for mobility while reducing costs and improving productivity. As the dust of the economic climate settles, the opportunity surrounding wireless and mobility is sure to ignite a renewed sense of optimism. By combining this optimism with selective investment, IT can ensure efficient mobile experiences and better prepare the business for the upturn to follow.

Kozup is senior manager in the Mobility Solutions group at Cisco Systems.

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