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Wireless Strategies that Help you Save to Invest – Part 1

- June 22, 2009 - 2 Comments

As I was negotiating for budget to fund certain projects last week, I thought that many of you must go through the same process in your organizations to get budget for projects and investments you deem valuable. Problem is, to win in this negotiation one has to prove their proposals have value and a high ROI. In this multi-part blog series I will be discussing different wireless strategies you can employ to increase your ROI from a Cisco WLAN deployment. In the process I hope to arm you with some tools to help you make the right infrastructure investment decision as you negotiate for budget with your peers.Strategy 1: Create Flexible Workspaces to Save on Real Estate CostsIt may seem counterintuitive in this tough economy that you would invest in creating flexible workspaces in order to reduce real estate costs, when your workforce may be shrinking due to downsizing. However, similar to future IT investment planning decisions, organizations should take a longer-term approach and plan for the inevitable upturn.As your business grows — and it will — so will your needs for additional space capacity to accommodate new employees. Many companies have and continue to experiment with flexible workspaces. The main concept is to move from fixed and isolated workspaces to mobile and collaborative workspacesFrom Fixed and IsolatedimageTo Mobile and CollaborativeimageClearly adopting such a strategy has great implications on employee productivity, collaboration and operations. Employees can move freely throughout the facility, form ad hoc working groups or simply choose to work where they feel most comfortable. Building this flexible workspace environment is dependent on many factors. Pervasive connectivity to the network is a prerequisite to enabling a flexible workspace. Wireless networking provides the most flexible network architecture to achieve these results in a cost effective manner. Additionally, next generation wireless networks with 802.11n have the required performance to ensure consistent application performance for all employees. The most frequently asked question around flexible workspaces is inadvertently about the all wireless office. Contrary to what you may have heard from WLAN only vendors, the decision about cutting the wire (or not) is not as simple. These technology decisions need to be made in the context of the business problems they are addressing. Granted, there may be cases where an all wireless office makes sense — such as university campus residence halls. However, in most cases — and for reasons I will have to discuss in a different blog — most enterprises would want a unification of wired and wireless for their production networks. You are probably wondering what kind of benefits can be expected from moving to a pervasive wireless network to support flexible workspaces? Cisco has implemented this in multiple offices; one of them on the floor below my fixed and isolated cube. The results were astounding: • Real estate needs were reduced by 37%. Put differently, we can grow our employee pool by 37% and still use the same space we are occupying today. • IT capital spend was reduced by 40% by spending less on switch ports. Only two switch ports per workspace are now used. One for an IP phone and another for backup connectivity (many Cisco employees use wireless as their primary access medium).• Reducing the number of switch ports per workstation, also reduced cabling costs by 60%• Fewer switches also meant a reduction in wiring closet equipment space by 50% and consequently energy consumption savings by reducing the cooling requirements for those spaces leading to a greener operation. Of course the benefits extended to other less direct savings such lower furniture spend, lower workplace services, and lower construction requirements for new buildings.Join the discussion:Are you considering (or have deployed) flexible workspaces in your organization? If so, what benefits do you expect (or have received)?

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  1. Thanks Neil. The next entry will be on teleworking, stay tuned.

  2. Good article and appreciated. This will be a good series and I look forward to following. My experience in working in this for many years is that budget expands when two things are achieved; 1) incorporation of C suite priorities, and 2) investing with an eye to the three primary business problems which are collaboration, improving real time business analytics and opex reduction. Best- Neil.