In a connected world it’s all about the network

Businesses in all sectors, whether they admit it or not, are fast becoming technology businesses in their own right. The banking and retail sectors are a great example of this shift in action.

What started as bricks-and-mortar focused industries have quickly become digitally focused sectors with financial and retail institutions introducing mobile apps, contactless payments and cardless cash initiatives to keep up with consumer demand and compete with digital disruptors.

And the growth and use of technology is not just about the customer experience; it’s also about businesses utilising technology to enable a more productive and flexible workplace.

As more and more employees demand flexible hours, communication and collaboration, more businesses are adopting BYOD, cloud, communication technology and the associated storage infrastructure that come with these technologies.

Network slowdowns and at worst, downtime, can also come at a significant cost to businesses. Network issues impact an organisation’s professional reputation, customer loyalty and staff morale.

While the advancement of technology in business brings many benefits, it also highlights the importance of the role of the IT department and the network connection as the uptake of cloud, unified communication and multimedia technology all mean one thing – increased pressure on the IT infrastructure.

In 2019, the number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population, and this will result in huge increases in network traffic.

Excess pressure placed on existing IT networks can manifest itself in slow speeds and bottlenecks – problems that prevent businesses from using and optimising technology to get the best outcomes and ultimately to respond quickly to market conditions.

Network slowdowns and at worst, downtime, can also come at a significant cost to businesses. Network issues impact an organisation’s professional reputation, customer loyalty and staff morale.

In too many cases, businesses address this need after they experience the problem – creating delays and disruption across the entire organisation. And if a slow network doesn’t affect your business now, it most definitely will in the future.

In Australia alone, the Unified Communication (UC) market will see an 8.6 per cent growth between 2011 and 2018, and will be worth over $1 billion by the year 2016.

The explosive demands being placed on modern computer networks are already here. The challenge for business is that the network is often treated with an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality with corporate leaders not giving much thought to their IT network until it fails.

As a result it often falls to the CIO’s and CTO’s to make sure the internal IT infrastructure and external offerings are adequately supported and running to their full capacity.

However, it’s one job to adopt and promote new technology but a whole other stream of responsibilities to ensure it runs effectively. So how can CIOs, CTOs and business executives ensure that their networks are strong, resilient and protected into the future?

• Define the network – keep it fresh with annual reviews to make sure routing is optimised

• Identify and prioritise traffic – invest in monitoring that gives visibility of the various types of traffic across the network.

Visibility provides opportunity to optimise and minimise chances of bottlenecks.

• Improve the quality of the links that are in use – Investigate a move to a Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network. MPLS is faster, more reliable, delivers a higher quality of services and offers better data security.

• Redundancy – in situations where data and voice is critical to business, investigate physical diversity with network providers.

The importance of an always-on, high availability network is not going to diminish. Indeed, it will only become more critical, as water and power are critical to any business.

The efficiency of an organisation’s network will be absolutely be a point of success or failure in a world of hyper-connected, always on, always available business.

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