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What digital transformation means for your network


Jan Hein Bakkers

Research Director, European Tech Solutions and Ecosystems IDC

What digital transformation means for your network

When you think about the future of your company, your line of thinking will probably quickly shift to digital transformation (DX). The way in which your organization can leverage the abundance of new technologies to fundamentally change the way you do business should provide plenty of food for thought. When this happens, do you typically consider the implications for your network?

Over the past couple of years DX has become a key business priority for the vast majority of organizations. We are now also seeing that the focus is increasingly shifting from developing a strategy to delivering on it. IDC's 2018 Digital Executive Sentiment Survey shows that 70% of U.K. CEOs are facing significant pressure to deliver a successful DX strategy. Chances also are that technologies like cloud, Big Data, mobility, IoT, and artificial intelligence will play a big role in your DX plans. These areas have risen consistently over the past few years in the technology investment priority list in IDC's annual European Enterprise Communications Survey, and IDC expects them to play a fundamental role in corporate strategies in the years to come.

What is less likely is that the network is considered as an integral part of your company's DX initiatives. In many organizations the role of the network in general, and the wide area network in particular, is barely visible to senior management and the wider organization — until it breaks of course, by which time it will be too late. This is quite surprising when you consider that the successful adoption of new technologies, and ultimately the success of digital transformation, depends on a network that can properly connect users, locations, applications, and data.

At the same time, the adoption of these new technologies will drive network requirements to unprecedented heights. Security plays a critical role in this respect, as underlined by the results of IDC's Enterprise Communications Survey. U.K. organizations do not only see security as the key driver of network requirements, ahead of cost and flexibility/agility, but also as the biggest challenge and the number 1 network provider selection criterion. IDC research also shows that fixed data volumes are set to double in the next four years, so network capacity will need to scale. Public cloud, hybrid cloud, and multicloud are the names of the game as cloud adoption continues to increase. Enterprises will need a network to provide connectivity to and between these different clouds and multiple providers. Today's wide area networks, however, have typically not been architected for this cloud-centric environment. They were built for applications residing in the datacenter, and organizations are increasingly struggling to adapt their architecture to the new reality.

So, when you think about digital transformation, consider the role of the network as an integral part of your DX journey. Digital transformation really should go hand in hand with network transformation. Start driving the perception of the network as an essential enabler of digital transformation, rather than a simple cost center, and build a business case for network transformation on that basis.

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