New generation of workers pose challenges to the corporate network

The prevalence and effectiveness of tech devices is affecting the way we choose to work, in and out of the office, and the phenomenon will impact how companies shape up for a generation of mobile-ready workers, according to a new study sponsored by wireless LAN vendor Aruba Networks.

Aruba Networks define this generation of constantly connected workers as  #GenMobile, a group of people for whom smartphones have gone beyond personal entertainment and BYOD. While they can be of any age, the younger the age bracket, the more pronounced is the embrace of and reliance on mobile technology as an essential element in life and work. #GenMobile have a tendency of working non-traditional work hours, and are always online (34%), at work or off work.

The study revealed that 95% of South East Asians carry two or more devices. Over 60% of them use their own devices for business applications, and only 50% of their employers set security policy to manage devices brought into the workplace, representing a security gap that businesses should not be overlooking.

Among the businesses that were interviewed, 94% are becoming aware of the transformation and the critical role mobility plays in preparing for #GenMobile’s entrance to the workforce.

“It is not an option to ignore #GenMobile, they will just keep coming,” said Albert Tay, ASEAN General Manager, Aruba Networks. “The new phenomena presents an opportunity for CIOs and their IT teams have an opportunity to be a business ally. They can improve employee responsiveness and attract #GenMobile talents by challenging workplace norms of desks – desktop computers and desk phones.”

Tay said that banning personal devices at work is a poor business practice and hard to enforce. “For starters, personal devices allow employees to be responsive to business needs beyond the proverbial 9-to-5. Moreover, it is very hard to prevent everyone from dialling work numbers and logging into browser-based work apps from personal devices.”

Tay further noted that personal devices through Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Choose-Your-Own-Device (CYOD) initiatives break Wi-Fi networks and traditional traffic engineering practices.

“IT managers can overcome Wi-Fi stability issues by using the IEEE 802.11ac standard for gigabit Wi-Fi capacity,” adds Tay. “Aruba goes beyond this with ourAruba ClientMatch software, which further improves the Wi-Fi experience by evenly spreading the device load amongst access points and ensuring that every device roams to the closest Wi-Fi access point.”

As employees become more mobile, an all-wireless Workplace will allow enterprises to accommodate #GenMobile and enable IT to meet the growing demand for mobility, said Tay, adding that an all-wireless workplace is also more cost-efficient than the traditional workplace with network ports at each desk.

Tay also said that IT managers need to ensure that their networks have app intelligence so it can selectively route work app traffic inside company firewalls, while keeping personal web traffic out. Voice and video apps also require priority handling so the connection does not become finicky.

Asked how data can be protected and access controlled in the new normal, Tay said IT managers can implement granular context-based policies to improve the security posture. “This can be achieved with solutions such as Aruba ClearPass. ClearPass fingerprints users, their different devices, the different work apps on each device and locations of use. This allows IT managers to audit their environment and identify points of compromise, such as devices without latest security patches.”