Given that most fit-outs are retained for at least five years, planning technology infrastructure is paramount to both a business’s operations and its bottom line, as Tracey Cook reports.
TECHNOLOGY is ever changing and evolving. Who dares remember the days when fax machines were cutting edge and office design centred around a computer lab?
The Internet, too, has had an impact on office design, changing the way information is relayed through an organisation and clearing the way for more employees to work from home, or anywhere in the world for that matter
Now, wireless technology is a major technology stream to be considered when planning a new office.
The first computer notebooks are hitting the market, complete with an in-built wi-fi enabling chip, with the latest wi-fi technology – 802.11G – having been ratified by peak industry bodies.
While 802.11B version is generally regarded as the industry standard, 802.11G can run at speeds of around 54 megabytes per second, significantly faster than the 802.11B’s 10 megabytes/second rate.
CDM Australia managing director Camillo Della Maddalena said businesses needed to have a look at wireless technology as an option.
While security was still a major issue, wi-fi-enabled notebooks would encourage the wider acceptance of wireless technology into business, he said.
Mr Della Maddalena said organisations such as Star-bucks, Qantas Club and McDonald’s were now implementing hotspots to enable executives to log into their networks while on the move.
Another recent technology is IP enabled telephony, which involves running data and voice communications along the same fibre cable.
“By using the same cabling it saves on not only the infrastructure costs but the ongoing communication costs,” Mr Della Maddalena said.
Working Systems Solutions Limited professional services general manager Clive Hodgson said businesses thinking of installing wi-fi technology should adopt the ‘standard’ because often the latest technology was not yet compliant with existing technology.
Mr Hodgson said that, while he did not expect an average desktop worker to really need wireless technology, its increasing use by mobile executives would lead to a trickle-down-effect.
And although wireless technology didn’t require the installation of cable, he advised businesses considering the technology to use encryption to guard against snoopers.
It was also important businesses ensured they had plenty of power to support future applications.
“What might be adequate today may not be adequate in the future,” Mr Hodgson told WA Business News.
Depending on what applications a business utilised, the ability to expand memory and hard drives, as well as a fast processor, was important, he said.
“Getting suitable bandwidth and making sure it can increase as the business expands is also important,” Mr Hodgson said.
Other aspects of an office’s technology worth considering, according to Mr Hodgson, concerned office-wide software usage, among them the Linux operating system.
Available free over the Internet with both server and desktop products, Linux is an alternative to Micosoft software.
An advantage of the Linux system, in addition to the cost benefit, is that while it has similar applications to Microsoft, it’s not as prone to computer viruses.
On the down side, it requires slightly more network support and in the past has been regarded as difficult to implement and install, although Mr Hodgson said this had improved over the years.
“Linux has been regarded as kind of a geek thing but it is getting more commonplace,” he said.