In 10 years will you still be sprinkling WLAN access points across your enterprise in the thousands? Will it still be necessary to manage your own WLAN infrastructure and all of the security too? If the culture and consumer behavior continues to evolve at an accelerated rate, then I see a couple of potential outcomes.
Minutes became a commodity, SMS became a commodity…and data will too. As prices from AT&T and Verizon continue to drop and network bandwidth increases, each person will become their own LTE hotspot. Just as they rely upon themselves for devices and apps that increase personal productivity, they will depend upon themselves for reliable, secure connectivity as well. After BYOD, in 10 years we may see BYOC (bring your own connection) as the next policy shift that empowers the worker, saving organizations both time and money.
Time Warner Cable is already pushing their nationwide Wi-Fi network. If you’re a TWC customer it’s as simple as logging into the TWCWiFi SSID. As time goes by, partnerships and alliances will form and networks will grow. TWC sees far enough ahead to where Enterprise Mobility, Cloud Computing and the incredible shrinking data room are taking us and they want to be the ultimate and ubiquitous gatekeeper. With the TWC and Comcast merge pending, they might just accomplish it.
Why would a CIO spend blood and treasure on maintaining a secure WLAN that has ample capacity and coverage, when it will be provided as a service by the carriers and cable companies and subsidized by your workforce? In the name of empowerment and personal productivity, your workers will pay for it. Actually – they are already paying for it. This new network will be just as reliable and as secure as anything the IT department could offer. In fact, some security issues may disappear completely.
To achieve efficiency and further savings, groups of workers or departments may pool together to provide connectivity for themselves and share bandwidth. It will be self-managed to retain greater control and flexibility. This may even be preferred by groups of employees and collaborative teams who are in and out of the office or who like to meet in different locations.
So this all begs the question: what is the life expectancy of your WLAN access points? Is it possible that we won’t need them in 10 years? I believe so. Workers will use their own personal connections that they already personally procure, either from their cable or cellular provider. I see this as the next evolutionary step in the consumerization of IT.