Feature Story

The Technology of Convenience

Technology of Convenience

The number of devices and connections we own continuously go up—making life easier for us, but challenging for the network.

Written by Chris SpainVice President, Product Management for Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group. 

Technology has enabled new levels of convenience at home, in the office, and nearly everywhere else. By connecting through mobile devices and through advancements from the Internet of Things, everyday tasks are now easier to complete and the access to information is in real-time.

The notion of "always-on, always-connected" drives the technology of convenience. Today, we're witnessing this idea being extended to wearables and novel devices, such as Amazon Dash that make completing tasks as easy as the push of a button. These connected devices – from the mobile phone to the wearable to sensors – might simplify certain elements of your everyday, but they have also spurred unprecedented growth in the number of devices and connections (an estimated 11.5 billion by 2019!), which presents complex challenges for the network.

Let's take the office as an example. As exhibited by past trends such as BYOD, a more mobile and connected workforce presents value with improved collaboration and productivity gains. Employees thirst for anything that makes it easier to do their jobs. Email and text got rid of the fax. Mobile phones made the boundaries of the workspace more fluid. Apps unleashed access to information from the cloud, across any device. And now sensors placed throughout the office enable better allocation of resources, from lighting to security. 

Look under the hood of all these things, and you'll find that wireless connectivity is at the backbone. While each technology gain brings an added level of convenience to employees, there is more complexity layered onto IT. As workers and organizations fully grasp the value of connected technology for the workforce, IT is left with solving and managing the intricacies that make the workforce experience come to life.

For more organizations to realize technology as the enabler of convenience without crippling IT, what really needs to be done? Here are some tips:

· Convenience for many in a connected office will swiftly relate back to network speeds. Enterprises must consider the network and potential changes that need to be made in order to address a population of mobile connections that will outnumber the global human population in less than five years. Ditching 2.4GHz, otherwise known as the junk band, will allow more available spectrum, non-overlapping channels and lower levels of interference for the "things" that consume a lot of data.

· Convenience at work often comes down to access. For users and business leaders, the value of connections ultimately comes back to the value of the data coming out of those connections and the insights gained in real-time. The sheer number of devices coming on to the network may require additional IP addresses, and enterprises should ensure that networks are provisioned to supply these or else risk exhausting the supply. An exhausted supply of IP addresses can result in added burden for IT – a complex readdressing exercise – and restricted convenience for users in the form of denying access to laptops and smartphones.

·Security must be at the center of all connected workplaces in order for true convenience and value for both users, IT and the business. In IoT, security begins and ends at the network. In order to deal with today's most complex security challenges and further the workforce experience, organizations need a simpler, scalable, and threat-centric approach that addresses security across every device, within every policy.

In the end, the technology of convenience is about freedom. Time has shown this to be true of nearly every trend entering the enterprise – from bringing the first wave of smartphones to connecting wearables directly to the network. Access, speed and security remain the key pillars of giving end-users the simplicity and ease they demand and expect from today's technology. Meanwhile, enterprises that think differently about the network infrastructure will enable IT to enjoy the same freedom of convenience too. 

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