Strategy Analytics predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of the global workforce will be mobile; that’s almost 1.75 billion people. In Europe, the proportion of mobile workers is set to be even higher, already estimated to climb to 75 percent of workers this year. The future is now. And businesses need to be ready to embrace this change. For one, they need to ensure that workers who are no longer tied to the traditional office can access corporate data and services from anywhere.
To meet these requirements, many businesses already supply their employees with laptops, smartphones, and tablets – or allow them to use their own personal devices. However, there is one key element in the deployment of their enterprise mobility strategies that companies too often ignore; and that’s the fact that mobile devices only have limited effectiveness when they aren’t connected to the internet. Without constant connectivity, mobile professionals can’t use cloud-based business applications and other services, such as VoIP, which are crucial to their productivity. It’s no surprise then that most mobile professionals have turned to Wi-Fi, the access technology which already moves 60 percent of mobile data traffic on smartphones.
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There’s a good reason for worker’s reliance on Wi-Fi. It is at once more cost effective than 3G/4G and also frequently provides a much better performance. In addition, Wi-Fi offers a more stable user experience when using data-intensive applications and services, such as video conferencing or cloud applications. After all, what’s the point of trying to dial into a video conference service only to get a poor connection? Similarly, mobile professionals can’t afford to wait for large data files to download. Due to the sheer volume of data most mobile employees require, a ‘Wi-Fi-First’ strategy for connectivity clearly makes the most sense.
Given the growing supply of global Wi-Fi, mobile professionals can leverage their business applications in more locations than ever before. There are now millions of Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, including in airports, cafés, hotels, planes, even in rural areas, and other locations where a 3G or 4G signal just can’t reach. The number of hotspots is growing larger by the day.
Keeping things simple
Despite the proliferation of hotspots, Wi-Fi isn’t without its challenges. The user experience can be uneven. Many have struggled with captive login pages, waded through intrusive ads, or input personal information just to get online, all of which have created numerous friction points to connecting. In order to stay productive, businesses should look for Wi-Fi services that will keep their employees connected without encountering any of those hurdles.
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A further consideration is security. Now it seems major data breaches make headlines on a daily basis, and lack of security is a marked weakness of free, public Wi-Fi hotspots. Many are reluctant to connect to networks that are open to hackers. No one, employee or employer, wants connectivity at the cost of valuable corporate or personal data. To counter this, businesses should encourage their mobile workers to use features such as a Last Mile VPN, which secure connections over open Wi-Fi hotspots, by adding a layer of protection where users are most vulnerable.
The future of Wi-Fi connectivity keeps getting brighter
Today, Wi-Fi is already a key tool for many workers. However, companies are likely to find themselves relying even more on Wi-Fi in the future, especially as cloud services continue to proliferate in the enterprise.
>See also: Wi-Fi and productivity: redefining the workplace
Undoubtedly, Wi-Fi is already the most cost effective and reliable way to keep the mobile workforce connected. However, a Wi-Fi-First strategy isn’t just about cost savings. Making Wi-Fi a business’s core connectivity method will ensure that employees are able to work anywhere, without having to think about connectivity or security – allowing businesses to regain huge amounts of otherwise wasted time.
Sourced by Mato Petrusic, VP EMEA & APAC, iPass.