How to Stimulate the Wireless Economy
January 28, 2017
According to RCRWireless, the global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion people or 42.5% of the global workforce in 2022, up from 38.8% in 2016. But this stat is not just about working remotely or collaboratively. It’s a reflection of what’s required in order to compete in what Andrew Seybold refers to as the wireless economy.
My 16 year old daughter was looking over my shoulder while I was recently editing a data sheet for our Sapphire Eye Wi-Fi performance sensor. I was editing the section that outlined Power over Ethernet (PoE), when her proofreading spotted a typo. “Dad, you spelled Internet wrong,” she stated calmly and confidently. In that moment, as it suddenly dawned upon me that she had likely never heard of or seen the word Ethernet before, I had a revelation. My daughter would enter a workforce that knew no wires, boundaries or limitations, but instead offered infinite possibilities in the space between people and machines . Her imagination would not be tethered by unruly, disorganized cables making point-to-point connections, like mine was. Rather, her generation would thrive in a world where products, solutions and services all literally run on the air we breathe.
Now back to the present moment. There is still much the wireless network industry must overcome before this vision becomes reality, but change is certainly happening at an exponential rate. To truly enable the wireless economy, I see the need for three things:
- Great WLAN network design
- Effective Wi-Fi performance management
- And from the device standpoint…reliable roaming.
Without these three working in concert, the wireless economy slows.
Great WLAN design can be carefully planned and executed. There are many tools and experts out there to assist. This is especially important if you want to take advantage of 802.11ac technology which only works on 5GHz and requires smaller cells. Wi-Fi performance management systems to proactively monitor, identify, diagnose and prescribe solutions to enhance the Wi-Fi experience and improve productivity are out there too. Just browse our website. However, the wildcard in this equation is the roaming behavior of mobile clients such as, laptops, tablets, smartphones, wearables, RFID tags, and other “things” on-the-go.
Roaming is directed by a device manufacturer’s proprietary formula. It’s this algorithm that compares the frequencies and signal strength’s of neighboring access points and decides when to gracefully make the roam. As a result, roaming behavior varies widely from device to device. The fact that Apple, Samsung, Motorola and Intel all have their own secret sauce is frustrating to the network engineer attempting to stimulate the wireless economy for their own organization as a way to increase productivity or gain a competitive advantage. Easily identifying “sticky” devices that refuse to roam is elusive and difficult and the techniques employed by engineers to identify and resolve roaming issues can be down-right primitive.
I recently spoke with a WLAN engineer, who in a desperate attempt to troubleshoot an angry executive’s laptop, told me the story of how she would walk up and down the hall with his laptop in one hand and a speed test app in the other in an attempt to retrace his steps and analyze the roaming behavior of his device. This techno-psychoanalysis was certainly not what she had in mind when we began the job a few years earlier.
Research by MarketsandMarkets indicates the Internet of Things market size is estimated to grow from $157 Billion in 2016 to $661 Billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33.3%. However, the wireless economy will only flourish, transform commerce and ignite innovation when the pieces required for success work together harmoniously. Professionally designed networks, managed properly, in conjunction with analytics and insight into specific device behavior, will fuel this bull market.