Is your network ready for what comes next?

by Gary Middleton

28 May 2020

Lady wearing glasses looking at the computer screen

The network has been with us in one form or another forever. Now is the opportunity to ensure that it continues to provide the foundations for business innovation

Modern businesses are built on the idea that it’s better working together than going it alone. From the traders who traversed the oceans at great risk to create global markets, to entrepreneurs that rely on both physical and personal networks to succeed.

Organizations today rely on their networks to provide the platform for innovation, bringing teams together, allowing them to share ideas and create new products and services.

The COVID-19 pandemic put the importance of the network in the spotlight. As more and more people were confined to their homes, they turned to technology for social reasons, but it also played a vital role in enabling them to continue to work. Companies found that they had to move quickly to ensure their infrastructure, designed to support one way of working, could keep the new, remote workforce connected and productive.

Keeping the lights on

Initially organizations embarked on what we identified as the ‘rapid response’ phase. This required that they ensure all employees could securely connect to their applications in order to stay productive. During this phase we supported our clients in a myriad of ways, not the least of which was getting their employees connected through expanded VPN capacity, sometimes on a massive scale, and through a variety of technology and service options. By accessing our expertise and supply chain services they were able to get their teams connected quickly and address any issues caused by the change in working patterns and day-to-day operations of the network. We also assisted many organizations in critical industries keep their infrastructure operating where we applied our portfolio of network services to provide the additional capacity they desperately needed.

Lady working on her tablet

Don’t expect the workplace to revert back to the status quo

Most organizations are well into this stage now, but it’s essential they don’t assume the work has been done and that they’ll simply be able to return to the status quo once the crisis has passed. Proactive companies are looking at the expected ‘bounce back’ phase and planning for how to be ready.

Some are taking advantage of empty buildings to implement projects that would have been difficult, or impossible, in a busy office environment. Others are looking at what the new work environment might look like and how they can provision services to enable the new mix of remote and office workers. Wireless networks and analytics can be used in innovative ways to monitor the movement of employees and guests to measure and track social distancing and new health and safety regulations. This is applicable, not just in office environments, but in industrial and logistics applications where it may be necessary to modify processes to reduce the number of people in a specific area.

Ready for the ‘new normal’

As we move beyond that into the ‘new normal’ phase there is little certainty. Organizations will reimagine their business and the infrastructure that supports it. Many are looking for operationally efficient, cost effective and on-demand infrastructure that enables them to make rapid changes to cope with the accelerated pace of business change. This will mean more cloud, more software-defined infrastructure, more automation, more DevOps driven IT, more platform-delivered operations, and more flexible licensing and consumption models.

Those companies that approach infrastructure transformation broadly to consider technology, operations and consumption will have an IT infrastructure that positions them well to come through the crisis ready to thrive. It’s important to remember that the challenges of today help to identify and shape our future businesses and the opportunities they are presented with.

We recommend a three-part approach to looking at the network, and how it supports business, when organizations are planning for what comes next:

  • Gain visibility and control – you need to take action to ensure you have visibility of all elements of your network and remediate any short-term challenges to enhance connectivity and security.
  • Realize strategic solutions – engage in a more strategic exercise to define a business-aligned network and implement solution for end-to-end transformation that support the execution of organizational objectives.
  • Innovate and automate – using innovative approaches, automation and analytics in networking enables you to leverage the network as a significant platform for business innovation and competitive differentiation.

Our experts can share learnings and practical advice to help you make the right infrastructure decisions to support your business during times of disruption. See next steps.

Gary Middleton

Gary Middleton

Principal Director – Group GTM and Skills Transformation, NTT Ltd.