As the Olympic Games draw closer, many fear that London will suffer traffic gridlock and have its infrastructure put under acute pressure. So businesses will be looking for flexible and secure ways to enable a more mobile workforce.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon, as staff use their own personal gadgets for work purposes, also means that enterprises are being forced to adapt.
However, the ideal vision of a plug-and-play set-up, where work can be done effortlessly at any location from a range of devices, is still not quite a reality. This is where the channel must support organisations in their journey towards greater connectivity and flexibility, by building robust wireless infrastructure, delivering effective device connectivity and productivity, or providing comprehensive security.
The first challenge is to provide high-performance wireless access points. The rise in smartphones and tablets brought to work is already driving up the number of WLAN upgrades.
This anticipated growth is an opportunity for all channel partners, including those that may lack wireless expertise, to grow business by partnering with technology companies delivering fast, efficient and reliable WLANs, in a branch office on demand scenario.
To be effective, BYOD also relies on employees' ability to access a wide range of office applications through their personal laptops, tablets and smartphones, regardless of whether the devices in question run on Android, iOS or Windows.
Value-add connectivity should provide unified access to any device, applications, files and content on virtualised, cloud or server-based platforms. New technology vendors are now providing simple access to Windows applications through a connection broker, enabling organisations of any size to support their mobile workforce.
As the use of diverse and off-site devices increases, so does the complexity of working practices and the associated security and access requirements. While in-house IT teams understand security all too well, end users may not.
For example, what if an employee allows a family member to use a BYOD-enabled iPad, and that person unwittingly downloads a corrupt application that infects company data on the device? Use of a device in a public hotspot also increases the risk of corporate data being hacked into or intercepted.
The same stringent compliance and security standards should be applied to the mobile enterprise as to the office desktop. Consulting services can add value here.
For some organisations, the management of these diverse and complex security policies can be onerous. If that's the case, security-as-a-service might suit. Here, the customer retains control over the rules and policies, but the complex administration and implementation of those policies are outsourced to a trusted partner.
In this way, strategic alliances can broaden offerings to reach more potential customers. The Olympic Games are one of the greatest challenges for athletes, but the associated need for mobile security, connectivity and management could be the making of the channel.
David Ellis is director of new technology and services at Computerlinks
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