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CCI
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 17:35

Unloved networks are the main casualty in the race to a digital future

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67 per cent of network managers see a digital strategy as important to reduce threat from competitors, yet 49 per cent say legacy technology is holding them back

42 per cent of network managers believe that their organisation’s network doesn’t fully meet the needs of the business, despite 76 per cent agreeing that the CIO has 100 per cent visibility of the network.

This is according to a survey of 250 network managers, conducted by Axians UK through Arlington Research, and comes at a time when digital transformation projects are actually forcing companies into administration.

This is alongside the fact that 44 per cent of network managers cite customer complaints about slow application performance happening at least once a week, indicating that major network improvements must be made if businesses want to improve the experiences of their customers.

Addressing the customer experience with a digital strategy

Customer experience is crucial to long term business success today and many companies are achieving this through a digital strategy. In fact, 67 per cent of network managers agree, that a digital strategy is important to reduce threat from competitors who can scale up quicker than those with established networks. 74 per cent also believe their organisation has a well thought through digital strategy, and 89 per cent advise that having experienced staff to work on digital strategy implementation is important.

But, as the digital strategy becomes a priority, the network changes necessary to sustain secure and agile businesses are being missed. For example, 49 per cent say legacy technology is still holding back the organisation. What’s more, 44 per cent say their company struggles to find the IT skills or talent in areas that can’t be automated, and 27 per cent aren’t sure their company has enough bandwidth to achieve its digital strategy.

The customer experience is vital for success, and businesses are committing to digital strategies to enable a more engaging and positive journey, but are neglecting to support these broad objectives with the details that will enable long term success.

A change of mindset and education is critical for long term success

Russell Crampin, UK Managing Director at Axians UK, comments: “Organisations are currently risking reputation and can’t always obtain the adequate skills in the network, causing disparity between the long-term vision of the business, and the reality of the here and now for network managers. CIO’s must look beyond software and focus on utilising people internally and externally to truly address the digital strategy and secure long term success.”

62 per cent of network managers say their company would be more profitable if it invested in new technology, and 67 per cent believe a digital strategy will reduce operational costs in the long term. This is critical, as 62 per cent feel increasingly pressured to reduce operational costs of the network.

Correctly prioritising business objectives

To successfully implement a digital strategy, respondents identified the following as important:

  •     network management (94 per cent),
  •     security (92 per cent),
  •     network visibility (90 per cent),
  •     educated staff (89 per cent),
  •     flexibility/agility (89 per cent),
  •     application performance (86 per cent),
  •     scalability (84 per cent),
  •     automation (76 per cent).

Replacing legacy technology and improving control of the network with technologies such as Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is widely agreed to help businesses improve on these priorities but within a lower budget.

SD-WAN connects critical networks over large geographic distances. Businesses need to work with experts to take these new technologies and integrate them with the ability to deploy their own services around this solution. By doing so, they will gain access to consultancy, service creation and support, where the knowledge and expertise is lacking.

Reputation is key to success both now and in the future

For long term success, businesses must protect reputation and sustain quality services while making necessary changes. They can do this by calling on advisors and consultants to help them practically implement the strategy and adjust the network, while remaining secure and keeping application performance at a good level.

Crampin continues: “By investing in Axians’ experience in the network, and supporting the investment in next generation networking like SD-WAN, organisations can build a solution to fit their own business challenges. By doing so, companies can scale, be flexible and agile, while making the changes necessary to implement a digital strategy which will ultimately enable them to continue to address and improve the customer experience – but with fewer casualties along the way.”

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