Technology, when used to its best advantage, can readily empower businesses to expand and scale on demand.
As businesses navigate the new hybrid world, the state of company networks has become the elephant in the room.
With so much choice, it can sometimes be difficult to find the right network solution for your business. I’ve seen many find themselves in a situation where planned upgrades are now two-three years further behind in schedule.
Businesses need network flexibility to even consider the possibility of upgrades, especially given the ongoing decentralisation of the workforce. Whether businesses decide to go fully remote, office-based or hybrid, they need to adapt to readily available network resources.
But what does "network flexibility" mean?
The legacy challenge
I think "network flexibility" is defined by a range of inputs and influences, and I'll discuss these below.
Starting with the legacy challenge: legacy network management systems have a finite capacity. If you’re a small-to-medium business that wants to scale and expand, you need network headroom. That's almost impossible to get using legacy network infrastructure.
The alternative is a management system designed to absorb increased demand. An example is Superloop's automated (software driven) network management system that makes it easy for new customers to switch to Superloop and add more capacity or users.
The ability to adapt to available network resources, including topology, low latency, and different traffic distribution, will help businesses overcome the legacy challenge.
Improved accessibility for employees
Network flexibility is vital for hybrid workforces. In the post-pandemic world, the number of locations where data and applications need to be accessed remain high. Businesses therefore need to empower their employees to work anywhere at any time to succeed in this new paradigm.
According to a 2020 451 Research report, 80% of organisations extended their work-from-home policies during the pandemic. Of these organisations, 67% intend to continue these policies. This behaviour has pushed IT leaders to change their infrastructure models to ensure long-term durability.
In this sense, network flexibility means the ability to connect employees securely to company networks from multiple devices and different locations.
Data-intensive video calls will remain a reality and workers will regularly need to log into virtual calls and events. The pandemic has accelerated the need for better connectivity and flexible working. This ultimately means your team needs centrally stored files and data to perform their work from anywhere.
Having centrally stored files and data drastically improves a company’s performance. When your business adapts to readily available network resources, workflow and warehouse operations can be managed more efficiently. Workers can find the files and data they need more quickly and readily deliver.
This requires networks with enough capacity and flexibility to manage large amounts of data.
Network flexibility to meet customer expectations
The network communication demand of most businesses is to enable customers and users to access services from anywhere at any time. Businesses need a fibre-based network to deliver on this demand with confidence - and to meet customers' expectations.
Better still, more flexible connectivity enables businesses to enact an improved online presence for customers - this is a staple for success in the hybrid world.
To fully leverage this, it’s in businesses’ best interests to work with a single provider for network flexibility. Businesses need one source of connectivity to access the most suitable technology approach for their needs.
With a single provider, any third-party technologies/or products are wrapped into a single service which offers integrated solutions for voice, video and data. This allows you to spend more time on core business processes.
Greater visibility and control
A lack of visibility and control makes network slowdowns and inherent security dangers inevitable. IT professionals require visibility and control across their infrastructure to facilitate a reliable network experience. But with current variance in work modes, I’ve observed delivering this service has been challenging.
The continued decentralisation of the workforce is a critical driver of the need to address what network flexibility means for businesses. Today, infrastructure must ensure application performance across multiple locations, enable great customer experiences, accelerate development cycles, and simplify IT as a service.
Something all businesses have in common is the desire to meet customer demand for new and improved services. Businesses need to become more responsive to increase their speed to market and readily fulfil customer needs. To do this, businesses require access to a managed solution that will adopt, upgrade, replace or integrate with existing network infrastructure within the organisation.
The ultimate aim in having network flexibility is to maximise business opportunities. Being able to adapt to available network resources with a single provider means growth is within reach.