Business at the speed of digital: Don’t let your network slow you down

  • Businesses need to stay connected and up to speed
  • Why it’s risky to not deploy a software-defined WAN

Business at the speed of digital: Don’t let your network slow you downPLAYING catch-up is never easy. It is disruptors, market leaders, and early adopters that have managed to turn first-mover advantage into true business success.
 
Taking the first step is never easy, but always necessary.
 
Whenever technology evolves from one thing to the next, there’s always a certain degree of perceived risk involved. Adopting new technology can disrupt workers because of a change in process, cause unnecessary downtime due to integration issues, or fail because it’s new and unproven.
 
Because of these possibilities, many CIOs (chief information officers) and other business leaders prefer to wait until technology matures before deploying.
 
Historically, having this cautious attitude seemed wise. Let the early adopters cut their teeth and then deploy new technologies when the best practices have been developed.
 
While this strategy may have worked in the past, today there is more risk in not being an earlier adopter than there is by being one.
 
Digital organisations move with speed; that’s where the competitive advantage comes from. Success in business isn’t based on the company that has the best products or even the best people. Sustained market leadership is based on an organisation’s ability to adapt to market changes faster than the competition.
 
Here are key considerations organisations need to bear in mind in order to stay connected and up to speed:
 
1) You don’t want to be held back by your network
 
Becoming a digital organisation means having to be more agile and nimble than the competition. This requires having an agile IT foundation that enables the company to make rapid changes.
 
IT leaders understand this well and is the primary reason why companies spent over US$12 billion globally on technologies related to digital initiatives.
 
However, companies can only be as agile as the least agile component, and today that is the network, particularly the wide-area network (WAN).
 
Legacy networks are rigid in nature and slow to change. In fact, in a study conducted last year, ZK Research found that, on average, it takes over four months for businesses to make even a simple network change.
 
Complex changes can sometimes take over a year to implement – hardly the calling card of a business that is striving to be agile.
 
2) You don’t want to be stuck on the losing side of a price war with your service provider
 

Business at the speed of digital: Don’t let your network slow you down

 
For all the hype regarding cost savings regarding SD-WANs (software-defined wide-area networks) – and the cost savings can be significant – that isn’t the true value of the technology.
 
I’ve never been a big supporter of implementing new technologies to save money, as unforeseen things can happen along the way that could diminish the cost savings.
 
Also, the success of an IT project should not be determined on how much money it saves; cost savings are hard to calculate unless all the specific variables and cost inputs are known and can be measured both before and after deployment.
 
In fact, it’s always been my belief that, with the WAN, if an organisation really wants to save money and nothing else, then let the contract expire and hammer your service provider for bigger savings. In this competitive environment, that will yield at least 5%-10%.
 
The true value of an SD-WAN is that it makes the network dynamic and agile and enables an organisation to compete at digital speeds.
 
This becomes particularly important as IT becomes network-centric in an era that is highly mobile and cloud-first.
 
This shift means that organisations that want to leverage mobile and cloud as part of their digital strategy must also consider the network.
 
A slow, static network means digital strategies will fail. A dynamic, agile network means the business can implement new strategies quickly.
 
3) The network is at the centre of digitisation – where are you?
 
Common wisdom may say that moving to new technologies like SD-WAN creates some business risk. In this case though, with the network being at the centre of digitisation, it’s risker not to move – and that’s something all business leaders should be considering.
 
Doug Farndale is the vice president of Asia Pacific at Silver Peak.
 
Related Stories:
 
SDN: Get out of the Walkman era, companies urged
 
5 things you need to do before implementing SD-WAN
 
The 3 biggest networking shifts, from the new Juniper CEO
 
 
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