Are businesses today ready for the enormous demands that will be placed on their enterprise networks in the coming years as the pace of innovation and IT change grows exponentially? Our recently completed survey of 300 IT and business executives suggests there may be some work to do.
Meeting today’s needs
First, some good news: A strong majority of companies are deploying or already using advanced digital technologies like IoT/edge computing; Big Data/analytics; and digital customer/employee experience.
Obviously, companies need networks capable of supporting these innovations. How satisfied were our respondents with their network’s current capabilities? The data here is complicated.
- The positive. On the one hand, majorities of companies reported satisfaction with their current network capabilities across bandwidth, performance, security and reliability.
- The not-so-positive. On the other hand, no one is jumping up and down with excitement about their current network. Only 36 percent reported they were “very satisfied” with overall network capability; a similar percentage (38 percent, reported that level of satisfaction with bandwidth. Half or less were very satisfied with network performance, security, and reliability. And 10 percent were just flat-out dissatisfied with their networks.
- Those closer to the “front lines” were more likely to be dissatisfied. Those at a level below the CIO/CTO (i.e., those wrestling with issues on a daily basis) were about twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their network’s overall capability.
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reported they were “very satisfied” with their overall network capability today
cited “misalignment between IT and business needs” as a top three barrier
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said their networks were “not completely ready” to support their businesses cloud and digital initiatives
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Meeting future needs
As to the ability of a company’s network to meet business needs over the next 18-24 months, the data is again nuanced.
- The positive. Fairly low levels of survey respondents from both IT and the business reported dissatisfaction with areas like future network capability (11 percent) and future performance (9 percent). And 43 percent said their networks are “completely” ready to support cloud and digital.
- The not-so-positive. Less than 40 percent of respondents reported being “very satisfied” with their network’s ability to meet current or future business demands. That leaves a sizeable 60+ percent of executives who see room for improvement. In addition, 57 percent of companies said their networks were only mostly or not at all ready to support cloud and digital.
We asked the IT and business leaders involved in our survey to identify and rank the barriers they believe pose the greatest barrier to keeping their network in line with business demands. The barrier most frequently cited in respondents’ top three was “misalignment between IT and business needs” (48 percent).
That is actually a puzzling, even contradictory, finding: after all, 85 percent of respondents reported that their networks were completely or mostly ready to support the business’s digital initiatives.
The second and third most commonly cited barriers were “inherent complexities between business requirements and operational needs” and “demands for bandwidth, performance, etc. outpacing the ability to deliver.” When participants were asked to rank only the top barrier, “demands for bandwidth, performance etc. outpacing the ability to deliver” and “lack of network required skills” were most frequently cited, at 16 percent each.
Concerns over demands outpacing the ability to deliver would appear to be at odds with executives’ high level of overall satisfaction with their networks’ current and future capabilities.
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