The network transformation journey and why it matters

Businesses are continually being told that they need to transform themselves digitally. They are also regularly warned that integral to this process is the transformation of their network. Beyond that, they are advised that the security of transformed networks is critical. Let’s examine these imperatives.

Firstly, why transform at all? The foremost reason to bother with bringing a business into the digital era concerns the customer experience. Customers in every vertical you can name have more choice than ever, and expect the touchpoints when they spend money to be both smooth and responsive to their needs. Friction means churn. Any non-digital process will almost inevitably involve a degree of friction, whether that’s waiting on the phone for a customer helpline or filling out a laborious order form. There’s also the matter of employee experience. A good employee should be nearly as important to a business as a good customer. They also expect a great experience while conducting their responsibilities, or they too will leave to find that elsewhere.

All these good experiences are best supported in digital ways – by deploying the right kind of connected devices and the best in modern applications, platforms and portals. Then there’s the automation of processes, and the protection of data through security. All these things work best in conjunction with the cloud, and at the end of the day demand a meaningful commitment to a digital transformation journey of some kind.

But what about the network element? If an enterprise WAN investment has delivered the goods for 20 years without significant problems, why change that? The problem is that digital transformation calls for the kind of optimal performance, visibility and security that older network standards just can’t deliver. And where older networks are able match modern demands, they can’t do it with the required cost efficiency. The critical business applications that enable digital transformation need massive amounts of bandwidth, they need agility and flexibility, and they need wraparound security. This means that transformed networks are the very backbone that supports the requirements of digital transformation to be found across the business.

To understand the centrality of security to all this is vital. When applications and workloads lived inside a corporate data centre, protecting them was relatively simple. There was a clearly defined physical perimeter around everything. Protect that perimeter and every element within is secure. With a digitally transformed model, which means applications moved to the cloud and users connecting from everywhere, the perimeter no longer exists in a physical sense. Securing a transformed network means you need to decouple security from that network and use policies that are enforced anywhere that applications reside and everywhere that users connect. Business transformation doesn’t work without network transformation and network transformation doesn’t work without security. The three are intimately linked.

So how can all this be achieved? The Information Services Group, a leading global technology research and advisory firm, suggests that organisations wanting a secure network that is fit for modern digital purpose should consider a fully outsourced network managed services approach, based on network-as-a-service (NaaS) principles.

The ISG also celebrates emergence of cloud-native approaches in the form of communication platforms-as-a-service (CPaaS), unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) and security-as-a-service (SecaaS). It notes that virtualization in the cloud is dramatically changing enterprise network designs and purchasing models. Carriers for their part must respond to enterprise WAN needs with flexibility of their own in the form of on-demand services and managed services. They are turning to SD-WAN delivered as an easy-to-deploy service and they are building technologies like SASE into their offers.

Whatever your choice of model, now is the time to make your network digital-ready. The implications are clear: a stronger, securer digital-ready network drives growth potential, profits, customer retention and productivity.

This webcast from a recent event will help in understanding this area more fully.

 

These organisations participated in the event:

GlobalData

Lenovo

Nokia

Standard Chartered

Tata Communications

 

The following additional links will offer useful additional info on these topics:

Dell’Oro Group

Futuriom

Gartner

ISG

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Book of the Month*

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

By Dr Christian Busch
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

Chance encounters, or strokes of fortune, feature in countless stories of business success. This book looks beneath the surface, reveals and teaches the mindset that can transform pure chance into opportunity. The author is director of the Global Economy Program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

The author says “This is a book about the interactions of coincidence, human ambition and imagination”. In the above example: finding the wallet is the coincidence; ambition is the desire to make something of the discovery; add imagination and you open up a whole menu of possibilities: from spending spree to earning a reputation for honesty – or even making a wealthy friend.

Business is typically forged on human ambition and imagination, but early success often feeds an appetite for control – and “control freaks” can be blind to the opportunities thrown up by the unexpected. They only see chance events as distractions. If plans go awry, they may blame the failure on “bad luck” rather than admit their own inflexible attitude.

The author himself admits to being “a German who is used to planning” and prone to feel anxious when something unexpected happens. That makes him an ideal teacher, because he has worked hard to discover and analyse the mindset that enables one to “connect the dots” and cultivate serendipity. He presents a goldmine of examples from science, business and life where an apparent mishap or failure lead to a breakthrough.

Indeed, studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences. A well-known example is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, launching the whole field of antibiotics. Other examples include X-rays, nylon, microwave ovens, rubber, Velcro, Viagra and Post-it Notes – where would we be without these!

The book goes beyond the ability to recognise and respond to opportunities in chaos, but the subtitle – The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck – is actually a bit misleading. True, he does show ways to develop better fortune, but it would be better to call it “inviting” or “encouraging” good luck. For example, he suggests better ways to start a conversation with a stranger – ways that will make it more likely to lead to chance connections or shared interests.

The publishers may have chosen the word “creating” to make the book appeal to the human desire to control – for control freaks are exactly the readership that would benefit the most from this book’s wisdom and practical advice.

For the rest of us, it offers a great way to rediscover the sense of play that is so important in life – and too often lost in business.

 

“Following the success of The Serendipity Mindset hardback, a paperback edition has also now been launched under the title “Connect the Dots”.

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