In the drive for business modernisation, the network can often remain an afterthought. The big promises of cloud, AI, machine learning, automation and IoT to name just a few of the latest sexy and shiny tools, can dominate business strategy discussions. And, rightly so. After all, when you’re focused on driving growth, creating efficiencies and expanding innovation you need the latest tools to match.

The network is just after all, the network – isn’t it?

But, while the focus is often on the promises new tools and applications can deliver, what if we looked at things in a different light? If your business were to implement many of these new tools and applications based on current infrastructure and a less than optimal network, to what extent is your business at risk?

Of course as an IT leader, you’ve known for years the risks of a suboptimal network. But, in a world where your budget holders may fail to appreciate the need for infrastructure investment, how do you make the case for prioritisation of a modern network? First, let’s consider the risks.

Understanding the risks

One of the single biggest changes to have hit organisations in recent years has been the transformation of the workforce. Not only have the dynamics changed, but finding great talent is a perennial challenge for many a mid-sized organisation.

KPMG’s Growth 2.0 Report, which focuses on five priority issues for mid-sized business in Australia supports this. As part of increasing market share, diversifying the business and onboarding new digital technologies or innovations, a lack of talent was overwhelmingly the largest barrier (44 percent) to achieving this.

And, in a bid to attract and retain that talent, mid-sized organisations have expanded their search and propositions accordingly. This means having greater access to mobile technology and applications to facilitate collaborative working.

Add to that a thirst for knowledge and the ability to share information across the organisation, and this also means a greater reliance on analytics and information access. All of which places significant demand and risk on the network from a workforce hell bent on meeting the growing digital expectations of customers. Yet, continuing to ignore the warning signs and risks will ensure they manifest in the form of application performance and availability issues.

Going further, however, it’s the outcomes of these risks your senior leadership team should be extremely wary of. Application performance and availability issues will have a negative impact on employee productivity, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. And, when performance problems, outages and subsequent security incidents occur as a result of old equipment and a fragmented infrastructure, you’re the person asked to react and sort everything out!

In short, if you’re not placing a modernised network at the top of your transformation program, then every benefit you should derive from the raft of new tools and applications you’ve thrown over the top of it, will simply not materialise. Not only will they be difficult to operate from an IT perspective, but users will experience extreme frustration around access and usability.

Making your case for network modernisation

Making the case for network modernisation is about highlighting potential risk and articulating the benefits gained in a language budget holders understand. Those being the creation of greater efficiencies, driving growth and expanding your innovation capabilities – all of which can be achieved through one vital component – network visibility.

With enhanced visibility, you gain more insight into network traffic. This can help drive better application performance, increased collaboration, productivity, and ultimately, improved user experience as your employees and customers reap the benefits of new digital services.

Creating efficiencies

Through increased visibility, you’re able to provide your workforce with far greater support and improved productivity benefits through being highly connected across offices and locations.

Not only that, but there’s added levels of security too, at a time when threats are one of the biggest concerns for organisations. Greater visibility on the network ensures you can pro-actively search for threats, such as unauthorised data movement and abnormal traffic patterns.

Driving growth

As part of KPMG’s mid-market study, increasing market share was listed as the highest growth priority – 48 percent of mid-sized businesses agreeing so. A modern network facilitates this by providing greater bandwidth options. Branch sites can be set-up quickly and efficiently in different locations when required.

On top of that, a modernised network can rapidly provision new services to support entry into new markets as your business diversifies. In a world where timing and speed to market is everything, the ability to scale immediately could mean the difference between gaining a successful foothold in a new market and producing growth.

Expanding innovation

Customer experience is the major driving force behind a vast majority of innovation and transformation projects. Again, KPMG’s study found 62 percent of mid-market businesses agreed data or tools to improve insights into customers and customer experience was the single biggest innovation priority.

Customer experience continually rates as the point of difference in many industries, and something many mid-sized organisations pride themselves on. With an increasing focus on smart apps, bots, and multichannel services to help deliver this, modern networks can be architected in a way to optimise these requirements.

When the network is not just the network

Despite its ‘behind the scenes’ persona, the network is utterly crucial to the delivery of many critical and innovative tools and applications in your business. The message you can communicate as an IT leader is, despite all the will in the world to transform and provide a greater array of digital services, the business is nothing without a top grade network to support change. While we all likely understand the benefits it can bring, often shaping discussions in terms of the ‘dreadful alternative’ can spark budget holders into action.

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