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What to consider when planning your future digital network

Published: Dec 21, 2017
Author: Danny Johnson


Most companies are far along on their journey to a digital world in which they can rapidly respond to customer needs, thanks to the flexible and scalable IT environments being put in place. The digital world, however, still relies on a communications network to be successful.

In a recent study, 97% of C-level executives said the network is critical to digital success, but 82% said their network performance lags behind others. So they understand the importance of the network but most of them suspect something isn’t working quite right. The question is how to fix it.

As you plan your network, it is important to consider your current and future requirements. Companies often focus on controlling network costs. To that end, a strong focus is often placed on getting all the bandwidth needed as inexpensively as possible because of marketplace messaging.

The move to the cloud

Keeping costs down is a major factor, but it can’t be the only one you take into account when building the network of the future. If it is, the results are bound to disappoint you. Low-cost broadband solutions that have been touted as a means of gaining cost savings—they may have a role to play within your network—but they typically can’t provide the complete solution and performance that today’s enterprises require. You have to balance the need to run operations efficiently and enhance the customer experience—plus prepare for a connected, digital future. And, as enterprises migrate workloads to the cloud and execute digital transformation strategies, network performance is more important than ever.

As IDC argues, “digital transformation is at the heart of business strategies across all industry segments and markets,” as customers, processes and platforms become more digitally accessible. Digital transformation involves adopting innovations and technologies to achieve new efficiencies and create more satisfied customer experiences.

To achieve those goals, enterprises need the right infrastructure in place to get a handle on their mission-critical applications, how much bandwidth they require, and whether they reside in the cloud, on-premise or a mix of the two.

The spinning wheel

We live in the world of instant gratification so those few extra seconds of waiting can mean a frustrated employee and even a lost sale. Networks underperform for various reasons, including poor network design, excess peak-hour traffic and lack of capacity to handle traffic the network wasn’t designed for.

Underperforming networks cause lag time, bandwidth inconsistencies and, in worst-case scenarios, downtime. Users get frustrated with the spinning wheel on their screen if applications and websites take too long to load or execute functions because that forces them to slow down, and they can’t get as much done as they would like to.

If a VOIP connection clips every third word during conference calls, it can be frustrating for people on the call. Poor voice connections cause miscommunication, waste precious time, and can leave a bad impression of the company. A partner or customer might conclude that if you can’t even get a decent phone connection, what else can’t you do right?

Customer experience can take a serious hit from poor network performance, potentially leading to lost business. Google has found that 53% of mobile users abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. Another study confirms that failure to load within three seconds is a definite turnoff: 79% of web shoppers say they will write off a site that’s too slow and 44% will tell friends about bad online shopping experiences.

The ultimate consequence of all this is lost revenue, which limits a company’s ability to grow and compete in a dynamic market. But you can avoid this by properly planning your network.

Planning network capacity

To avoid the consequences of a poorly performing network, enterprises need to think beyond the price.

Capacity planning that takes into account current and anticipated future needs is key. It should include the following:

    •    Assess current network volumes

    •    Assess current types of traffic, such as data, video streaming and voice

    •    Determine data volumes traveling between on-premise and cloud environments

    •    Determine whether existing capacity is sufficient for current needs

    •    Calculate how much capacity future applications will require, especially taking into consideration planned investments in emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI)

    •    Determine if you have adequate security controls in place to avoid breaches

An enterprise with a good handle on its network needs can better prepare for a digital future because it will be ready to make adjustments to network capacity as needed. Higher-performing networks let you allocate capacity on demand in concert with the dynamic changes of your applications. And that translates to a more agile organization that can better keep up with the market’s evolution while achieving its desired business outcomes.

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Danny Johnson, a 20+ year veteran in the technology industry, is a season executive possessing experience in software development, engineering, sales, consulting, product development, and marketing. Danny has started and launched innovative products and solutions into multi-billion dollar markets and is currently the head of product marketing for Verizon where he shares responsibility for the profitable growth of Verizon’s Strategic Network Portfolio.

Danny holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and is a board member of Open Hearts, International; a non-profit, charitable organization providing vocational, educational, and life assistance to underserved and underprivileged children around the globe.