The tidal wave of technology change means that many organisations are faced with significant business challenges around how to approach the trend of digital transformation.
On-demand is now the new normal. Consumers and businesses will no longer wait around to receive goods and services, they want it all and they want it now. Failure to deliver high standards of service will lead to customers swiftly switching to the competition.
Increased globalisation brings with it the convergence of social and cultural trends and the need for seamless flow of information across borders. It is in this new business environment that network capability and performance becomes the differentiator for companies that thrive in the connected world and those that struggle to survive.
The explosion of video streaming and mass internet access has rapidly elevated the critical role of the network in business models. For example, users of video streaming service Netflix spend around two billion hours ‘binge viewing’ high quality content. Rival services such as Amazon Prime also offer high quality streaming, alongside a huge array of instant access products from designer clothing to the latest locally sourced organic foods.
Central to the success of these brands is not simply the quality of the product, but the ability to deliver it, instantly and without delay. These dynamic new organisations, equipped with powerful network and cloud services, are challenging traditional broadcast outlets, film studios and retail suppliers. By introducing new ways of consuming content and operating online, they are changing the way their markets operate and causing serious damage to their competitors’ market share.
In addition, external social, political and economic disruption is underpinning business uncertainty. Many organisations are intimidated by the structural and operational changes they face with Brexit, Trump and the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) along with a growing threat from cybercrime.
For CIOs and IT leaders, the line between the latest technology ‘fad’ and fundamental digital change is becoming increasingly blurred. Every business leader knows that new waves of digital disruption will inevitably reshape industries and redefine markets. The question is: which of these new waves should be taken seriously and how best should an organisation respond?
Analyst house Gartner has termed this conundrum as the “wait and see” attitude to digital disruption, which often means CIOs lose valuable time before taking action to embrace new ways of working. In many cases, this means action is only taken once the extent of the disruption is known – and competitors have already benefitted.
Mastering the network
In addition to globalisation, the digital world is ushering in new models of working such as the sharing economy. These are becoming increasingly prevalent, meaning that enterprises cannot afford to wait to act. Failure to do so could mean missing out on lucrative new revenue streams, failing to take a product to market or the risk of operating on an outdated operational platform – causing customers to look elsewhere.
So in a progressively confusing digital world, how can businesses continue to operate effectively and quickly adapt to new ways of working? How can they manage large volumes of data, and the delivery of content without downtime?
The answer lies, in part, in improving the network, and having one which can be flexibly modified in line with a business’ needs. It also means building powerful cloud environments and equipping the organisation with the necessary managed services and infrastructure. This means recognising that cloud simply cannot deliver without a strong network to support it. Yet, the telecommunications industry often makes these developments difficult for the very businesses it purports to help.
The super-size providers are repeatedly shape-shifting through mergers, acquisitions and complex restructuring efforts. Although these organisations may be intending to bring better customer service, in reality these overhauls often create more confusion and uncertainty for clients who are frustrated with the constant shape-up of core services.
That’s why businesses often seek a more agile approach to network management. After all, the network is no longer just the reliable backbone of the company – it should serve as the central nervous system. Enabling cloud environments, connecting every operation, interaction and data exchange and improving performance, constantly.
This is the very minimum requirement for the modern digital business. All organisations now need to capture, transport and harvest increasing amounts of data and then analyse and interpret it for better decision making. The network must be fit to manage this process and have the power and capability to cope with fast-growing volumes.
Mastering the network will enable efficient cloud environments, in turn allowing business to thrive in an increasingly complex and competitive world. Achieving this requires being nimble and flexible enough to respond to the needs of a fast-changing environment.
There are two key steps businesses can take to creating a more digitally-savvy organisation that is equipped to adapt to changing business models. The first is to have aspirations for your network and recognise that, in many cases, it has yet to reach its full potential operationally within the organisation. Its speed and capability can be improved with the right adjustments. Businesses need to think clearly about how a network can be improved to manage big data and minimise the risk of downtime. After all, delays and lag can have a major impact on the profitability and reputation of an organisation, ultimately leading to customer churn.
Tackling the challenges
The second is to invest in the wider business infrastructure and empower the cloud through the network. It’s vital that organisations have the necessary support and expertise to guide them through growth initiatives. This means having expert engineers on hand, as well as the essential technology consultancy and maintenance services available to deliver on major projects.
This approach will ensure that businesses have successfully empowered the network to make it fit to tackle the challenges posed by the new world of digital disruption.
Businesses are increasingly recognising the need for a network partner that is nimble enough to respond to changing market circumstances and entrepreneurial enough to constantly adapt to the changing the requirements of a fast-growing business – if your business doesn’t stay in one shape or form, then your underlying network shouldn’t either.
This approach will not only allow organisations to embrace change and new ways of working, but will ensure that businesses have successfully empowered the network to tackle the challenges posed by a new world of digital disruption – all contributing to staying ahead of the competition in an increasingly complex and competitive landscape.
The network is no longer just the piping and plumbing of the organisation. It’s the foundation that powers future growth potential.
Michael Ourabah, CEO and founder, BSO
Image Credit: Flex