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2020 – the year that’s going to reshape your digital transformation strategy

(Image credit: Image Credit: Wright Studio / Shutterstock)

Over the last year, new technologies changed the way businesses operated across the UK. Notable developments in cloud computing and software have shaped how enterprises function and communicate. Technology is impacting everything – providing support for digital banking offerings through to facilitating digital transformation in more traditional industries.

Technology has become integral to everyday business operations in many verticals, with some of the most successful businesses innovating year-on-year to keep processes up to date, reliable and efficient. But, as we head into a new decade, which tech trends will shape the next phase of business development, and what benefits will they offer?

How’s cloud computing going to change business?

As businesses shift to cloud computing, the public cloud giants, including AWS, will keep on growing, with Gartner, Inc. forecasting that their global revenue will grow 17 per cent in 2020, to total $266.4 billion. A major part of this will be down to the integration of multi cloud strategies into their core offerings. Multi cloud is going to be a major trend over the coming decade. By embracing more than one service, businesses are no longer reliant on one supplier, reducing the risk of total failure should any downtime occur, and ensuring business continuity. Furthermore, not all providers are the same, so by embracing a multi cloud strategy businesses can pick the best qualities from across different providers so they can best suit their unique requirements. That’s why providers are pumping resources into developing their cloud offerings, with 75 per cent of enterprises around the world predicted to employ a multi or hybrid cloud model by the end of 2020.

The rise of public and multi cloud will drive digital transformation across the UK, streamlining business operations, slashing overheads and boosting productivity. Enterprises that fail to adapt to this changing landscape – no matter how established or strong their reputation – will fall behind the curve.

Is it finally time for the SD-WAN revolution?

For many businesses a hybrid architecture is likely to deliver the right balance of performance, reliability, security, and value.

New technologies are facilitating growth across all industries, giving ample opportunity to those involved, but they also have the potential to disrupt any major players who fail to adapt. The early adopters of new technologies usually reap the highest rewards, as other organisations invest heavily to catch up and compete.

In 2020, those who have an established software-defined networking in a wide area network (SD-WAN) platform will rise to the top, as the hype that’s built up over the last 23 years finally becomes a reality. SD-WAN technology can deliver an application-centric network via the ability to assess the performance of connections in real time, dynamically choosing the best path for business critical applications. It can also offer improved efficiency for businesses who have made significant progress along the road to cloud adoption by enabling local internet breakout for trusted applications, rather than routing all traffic through a central location. It can facilitate connectivity in areas which have been historically difficult or expensive to reach, as well as providing enhanced resilience through the use of multiple carriers and diverse technologies.

One thing that SD-WAN will typically not deliver, particularly in the UK and Europe, is cost savings. As a technology the benefit is delivering additional features and functionality that are not possible with traditional network solutions.

The choice of underlay network over which to run SD-WAN is an important consideration. The messaging in the early development of SD-WAN was that MPLS was “dead” and internet connectivity was all that is required. In the past year or so this message has shifted as it has become clear that whilst the internet is a perfectly acceptable choice for many applications, there are others which require the performance and reliability guarantees that only MPLS can deliver.

What’s going to fill the ISDN and WLR vacuum?

Alongside the ongoing migration to cloud, we are going to see the removal of traditional analogue services. As we head further into 2020, businesses in the UK need to understand that Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) are disappearing in the next several years (2025). Businesses will continue to value voice communications, but the way these are delivered is going to radically change, as the cloud has the same impact on phone lines as it had on on-premise infrastructure solutions.

To be successful today, businesses must deliver the other technologies that are needed to accompany the movement away from traditional analogue technologies. Having a full communications strategy, and not just a voice strategy, is central to achieving this, as it will help the organisation to integrate technologies, such as those offered by cloud, into their core operations. With WLR’s scheduled withdrawal by the end of 2025, enterprises are going to have to migrate their phone services and, for many smaller businesses who use phone lines to take payments, upgrade their point-of-sale machines. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking and cloud communications will manage to fill much of the vacuum left by ISDN and WLR, as their growth continues from the last decade and rises to dominance in the B2B space – but organisations must start planning ahead for this eventuality today to avoid the shockwave.

This forward-thinking approach is not unique to telecommunications, and needs to be reflected in every business, no matter the sector, that takes on a digital transformation project. Integrating new technologies into your core operations is a natural and increasingly essential move for businesses. Those that fail to adapt will find the competition passing them by, offering the efficiency and services that customers now demand. However, businesses also need to consider the technology that’s right for them and not rush into projects, as investing in the wrong area, or in the wrong way, could be very costly. Technology is not a silver bullet for businesses, but it can greatly help if considered and implemented in the right way. What’s clear though, is 2020 is set to be another year of change for those that embrace it head on.

Martin O'Donnell, Managing Director - Zen Business, Zen Internet