Future-proof your digital-age network

We live in an increasingly digitalised world where our homes, offices, schools and even cars are connected. Businesses need to integrate the latest digital innovations in mobility, data analytics, cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT) into their operations to gain a competitive edge and remain relevant. More importantly, they need to tap on technology to connect with and deliver positive customer experiences (CX), which has become a key priority for businesses in the APAC region, according to Adobe’s 2020 Digital Trends report.

Digital age technologies allow businesses to navigate into the digital era. They enable organizations to create more efficient processes, differentiate products and services, and better satisfy the needs of customers and employees, while increasing revenues and reducing costs.

However, it is important to keep in mind that digital age technologies and modern-day networks go hand in hand. Legacy infrastructures are often not equipped to efficiently and securely support today’s business scenarios and use cases. We are talking about cloud native applications and large number of IoT devices all connected at once. Businesses that are digitally transforming need to understand that their network infrastructure is the fundamental enabler of this journey.

The first step is to develop a Digital Age Networking strategy. This is important because it provides a proper framework that allows businesses to map their digital transformation. This strategy is based on the four key pillars:

1. Connectivity

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Businesses need to equip their digital network with excellent wired and/or wireless connectivity to ensure seamless customer experience, and efficient and effective transfer of data. Connectivity is key.

The expectation in the today’s digital age is that deployment of a new application should take mere minutes. While setting up a network still takes time, the process is improving. For example, there are networks today that provide secure connections automatically from a user, or object/device, to an authorised application. These networks were previously implemented with reactive alarm-based monitoring and were mainly manually operated. Now, enterprises have the option to drive connectivity-driven networks instead.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is a great example of how a modern network infrastructure can drive an enhanced end-user experience. With more than 35,000 students and 10 buildings on its campus, UTS was challenged by a number of network issues created by the different technologies in use by different faculties and groups. UTS deployed Digital Age Networking solutions to automate the deployment of their network and simplify moves, additions, and changes, reducing the time and effort it takes to maintain and operate their network, in a more cost-efficient way. The new scalable architecture could also support more than 90% of the day-to-day activities UTS needed to run, which meant fewer network outages and positive feedback.

2. IoT

IoT devices and sensors are changing the world we live in, and the way we do business. Billions of connected devices have already been deployed and experts predict that the surge will not slow down any time soon. IDC shared there will be 55.9 billion connected devices worldwide, 75 per cent of which will be connected to an IoT platform by 2025. One of the most significant risks that connected devices pose is security. Once an object is compromised, the whole enterprise network becomes vulnerable. Securing an enterprise’s IoT network and devices is critical.

However, configuring and managing that many individual devices is not pragmatic. IoT containment provides an automated solution to securely onboard IoT devices and protect the network at the same time. With IoT containment, each object is discovered and classified, categorised, and monitored. Monitoring them is vital so that enterprises can take immediate action if abnormalities emerge within the network.

3. Augmented intelligence

Enterprises should consider smart use of augmented intelligence. Artificial intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning correlate events happening in the network, and with user and device behaviour. Piecing these elements together offers IT a better understanding of facts and the bigger picture to address potential issues arousing from the network, enabling digital business processes.

Proactive analytics also provide intel about the quality of experience of its users and can quickly identify if there is a problem. For example, if a device takes too long to connect to the wireless network, the network can identify the issue and take steps to resolve an issue. The network will then send a notification to the administrator to indicate whether the problem can be automatically fixed. When unusual activity is detected with a connected object, the object is automatically disconnected or quarantined. This automated function ensures the quickest possible response and is one way for enterprises to use existing technologies smarter to achieve the best operational efficiency.

4. Cloud economics

Cloud economic models bring new revenue opportunities for enterprises. Today’s budget constrained environment cloud business models are presenting new opportunities to revisit the traditional CAPEX financial investment associated with network infrastructure purchases.

Network-as-a-Service provides an alternative to technology procurement with a subscription model based on a monthly fixed operational expense (OPEX) fee. Cloud technology also offers value-added services that can generate new revenue streams to help fund other IT initiatives. For example, in a stadium environment, location-based services can provide information about the location of users or objects, that means concourse retailers can send promo codes, or food vendors can send discount notification, creating new revenue opportunities to help fund the ongoing digital transformation.

The way forward

A solid Digital Age Networking strategy sets the foundation for a future-ready IT infrastructure. The above four pillars offer a guide to businesses as they transform their networks from complex and costly infrastructures to tools for generating new revenue streams with lower operational costs.

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