Guest contributor Ben Christian, Networks and Collaboration General Manager NZ at NTT Ltd, shares the five ways networks are likely to evolve over the next decade.
Over the course of the pandemic, networks of all kinds were put to the test. Whether a network in the context of connections between people — such as family members, friends or colleagues — or cloud networks connecting systems and data, we’ve all come to realise the importance of those connections, and how much we miss them when they’re not there.
In the technical context of networks, nearly all executives (98%) now agree that the network is a critical part of driving business growth, according to recent research by NTT. In fact, the pandemic has forced nearly three in four (72%) business execs to realise that low levels of network maturity are now negatively affecting their delivery and goals. And 9 in 10 executives say that their network dependency will grow in the next two years.
So what can businesses do now to future-proof their network? Here are five practical tips.
1. Think of your organisation first, then think about your network
A good leader always assesses the situation within the business, works out a strategy to move forward, and then finds the best tools to help them execute on that strategy. By thinking about the business and the strategy first, and by setting some clear business-oriented goals, you can ensure that you’re led by what your business actually needs, rather than what technology can offer.
Technology is only ever a tool. It’s a means to an end, and so technology should only ever come into consideration once the business is sure on what it wants to achieve. Break down silos and unite your business and IT teams behind your business goals to achieve a meaningful return on investment.
2. Work out your technical debt
The older the technology stack and networks within your organisation (and the bigger your organisation itself), the more technical debt you’re likely to have. In fact, technical debt created by legacy network assets affects two thirds of organisations, and it requires significant manual network support.
The key to reducing technical debt is to implement and maintain a fast, secure and agile new network that’s supported by the latest cloud operational models (voted a top investment priority by senior executives in NTT research). And keep innovating and evolving your network to make it future proof.
3. Consider a network-as-a-service (NaaS) model
Much of technology has moved to an “as-a-service” model, helping to free up hefty one-off fees for capital expenditure, spreading costs over the course of months, and shifting the responsibility for maintenance over to a specialist.
The same is happening now with networks. To move your organisation forward, consider the network-as-a-service model to consume and pay just for what you need while allowing access the latest trends in technology. This is a strategy worth considering at a time when global corporate network spending is rising, with 95% of executives now accelerating their investment in digital transformation.
4. Embrace new tools like AIOps in the pursuit of an agile network
New tools like AIOps are helping to make networks much more agile than before. 90% of senior executives believe innovations like AIOps, automation and predictive analytics will have a huge impact on network delivery and are worth investing in now for the purposes of future proofing their networks.
However, keeping on top of the latest innovations in the tech space can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Therefore, it’s worth making innovation the responsibility of your managed service provider and using it as a way to differentiate one provider from another.
Organisations now use various sources of providers in this regard, including tools from independent vendors, in-house tools, managed service provider tools and partial automation.
5. Factor in security
Cybersecurity concerns are growing faster than ever as the attack landscape widens through technologies and cybercriminals become smarter. Because cybersecurity is an ongoing battle, it has moved from being a question about how to stop attacks to being about how to make the organisation more resilient.
Networks aren’t exempt from this kind of thinking, so it’s important to consider how changing security and regulatory requirements (specifically regarding data privacy) will affect what you need to do with your network.
While networks continue to grow in capability and complexity, the more that end-to-end expertise becomes key. A strong managed service partner can help you align your tech and its associated costs with your business requirements, and help optimise network management, security, agility and innovation.
Because, after all, networks have become the veins through which flows the lifeblood of modern business. It’s worth getting it right to provide the experience that your employees and customers are looking for.