Efforts to transform workplace networks will have to place a strong emphasis on wireless access in the coming years, as a new survey has found the number of people expecting to connect solely via Wi-Fi is set to reach a tipping point.
Research conducted by IHS Markit found that almost half of employees will access company networks exclusively through Wi-Fi by 2020. This will be driven by major changes in how individuals choose to work, which devices they intend to use and the adoption of new, more mobile-focused business processes, the study found.
Matthias Machowinski, senior research director for enterprise networks at IHS Markit, stated that future workplace environments will need to encourage flexibility and support employee mobility.
According to IHS Markit's study, one growing driver of Wi-Fi demands will be cloud apps. These have now become the third-largest contributor to Wi-Fi traffic within enterprises, driven by new IT architectures and the adoption of public cloud services and devices that rely on cloud connectivity for full functionality.
"A key foundational element of these new workplaces is ubiquitous network connectivity. Companies are investing heavily in Wi-Fi so that employees can communicate and access information from anywhere to deliver a better experience for their customers," Mr Machowinski said.
Therefore, it is essential that firms invest in equipment such as access points to ensure wireless connectivity reaches every part of a business' premises and does not create any bottlenecks as multiple users attempt to connect via the same solutions.
Indeed, IHS Markit's survey found that more than three-quarters of new access point deployments (77 per cent) will be based on the forthcoming 802.11aqx standard, which should offer benefits including higher capacity, range and speeds compared with earlier standards.
The research found that the most popular new device to connect to these Wi-Fi networks in the coming years will be tablets, following closely by smartphones. However, a quarter of respondents also plan to add wireless Internet of Things devices to their network.
With such a significant increase in the number of endpoints, ensuring these expanding networks are effectively protected will be a top priority. Survey respondents named security as the number one area in which they plan to make improvements to their WLAN networks in the next 12 months.
"Security breaches are not some obscure event - they affect millions of people," Mr Machowinski said. "Almost every week brings news of another major cybersecurity breach, and networks are a security concern because they could potentially give hackers access to sensitive information."