By: Cathy Won, Consultant with eTeam, HPE Aruba Contributor.

The Future of Work and the Workplace is a 2023 Leesman survey report co-authored by HPE Aruba. The report explores the critical questions on the minds of business leaders coming out of the pandemic today. What is the future of work and the workplace? How must organizations adapt?

Unsurprisingly, the report revealed that 94% of corporate real estate leaders surveyed indicated that they are making changes, with 55% indicating that means making minor physical changes to the workplace and 39% indicating it means making a major change to the workplace.

Many of the physical changes to the workplace call for reconfiguring office space as hybrid work becomes the new normal. With a reduction in real estate footprint, today’s offices will change from permanent office space for individuals to shared spaces for individuals. New requirements for the configuration of offices and conference rooms are a part of an ever-changing landscape in the future of work and workplaces. Many organizations can take advantage of these changes to modernize their technologies and infrastructure. The opportunity is timely for organizations to re-evaluate their network infrastructure as the shift occurs to address a new work paradigm. 

The big shift to hybrid work was an instant change at the onset of the pandemic for many, dictated by new rules put in place to address the safety of employees. With hybrid work making such a significant impact on the future of work, it is no surprise that network infrastructure change is inevitable for today’s new reality. The shift to hybrid work created a major shift in ensuring the same kind of accessibility for workers whether they were in the office or working from home. The various factors of remote access come into play, where at the end of the day, the objective was to ensure an equivalent service level of accessibility, connectivity, and security to enable the most efficient ways for workers to accomplish their job regardless of their location. 

Technology advances in networking today are also occurring at a faster pace than ever before, sometimes leaving organizations bootstrapped with limited capital to adjust to the fast-changing landscape. So, redesigning for the future workplace is the perfect trigger to re-evaluate your current network infrastructure. Coupled with today’s business dynamics, most organizations find this time the most optimal to modernize their network to meet growing and evolving needs. An increasingly viable approach for keeping workplace network infrastructure aligned with the acceleration in changing workplace requirements is network as a service (NaaS). 

Why NaaS?

NaaS enables companies to implement a network infrastructure that will evolve with time, providing the flexibility to adapt to business needs as time evolves. With NaaS, companies can focus on business outcomes and service level objectives for their network and the accessibility required for their community of workers, partners, and customers. NaaS eliminates organizations having to worry about keeping up with the pace of technology change by relying on the strength and expertise of their implementation partner. NaaS eliminates large upfront capital expenditure investments that often go into new network infrastructure design, planning, and implementation with a monthly subscription-based or flexible consumption model, alleviating the financial impact on rebuilding a new workplace environment. NaaS enables more flexibility by not tying the organization down to specific hardware or capital investments that may eventually become obsolete. 

Additionally, NaaS enables the ability to flex down requirements should real estate space strategies change. If the services are completely outsourced, organizations can free themselves from keeping up with technology and training resources to support changes moving forward.

Given the many uncertainties and lessons learned from the pandemic, the one inevitable thing is change. One solution that is almost synonymous with change in network infrastructure is network as a service (NaaS), which enables organizations to maintain and revolutionize their network infrastructure to support their desired service level indefinitely without large capital investments.

For more data-driven insights derived from 75,000 workers on what the future of the workplace holds, read the eBook, Powering Hybrid Work 2023, and the full Aruba/Leesman report as listed above, The Future of Work and the Workplace.

Networking

Remote and hybrid work is here to stay. In an increasingly complex security environment, no challenge looms larger than how to protect remote devices that tie back into the corporate network.

In fact, modernizing networking technologies ranks among the top IT goals for 2022 according to an IDG survey conducted on behalf of Insight Enterprises. 

With more users working remotely, tools and processes designed for corporate networks are less effective for endpoint protection, leaving IT teams scrambling to keep their users protected. By some estimates, cybercrime could cost companies an estimated $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015.

When polled, CIO Experts Network of IT professionals and industry analysts stressed the need for employee buy-in, as well as a commitment to device management and endpoint security.

Most importantly, however, is building a strong security culture that encourages best practices across the organizations. The IDG survey found that 36% of respondents say that mitigating risk with stronger cybersecurity programs is a top objective for 2022. 

According to several influencers, that requires acceptance and buy-in from leadership:

“Corporations should look at homes as an extension of their organization’s boundaries. Which means that the same/similar tools, technologies, processes, and safeguards should be taken into consideration for people working from home.”

— Arsalan.A.Khan (@ArsalanAKhan), a tech advisor

“All devices, regardless of home use or business use, should incorporate cyber security and accessibility. It is critical to understand any potential security issues that might crop up on their home networks. Creating processes that incorporate these best practices will help you keep your employees’ technology and devices safe.”

— Debra Ruh (@debraruh), Ruh Global IMPACT and Executive Chair of Billion Strong

“When someone says, ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ it means they are a hypocrite. Security hypocrisy is when firms don’t enforce the same level of security controls for remote workers as they do on-premises. Firms serious about security must ensure that remote users follow the same robust security controls their onsite brethren do.”

— Ben Rothke (@benrothke), Senior Information Security Manager at Tapad

When leadership takes protecting remote devices connecting to the corporate network seriously, there are three simple steps to take to build a robust security framework for their network. 

“There are three device attack protection vectors to consider: the user, their applications, and the network,” says Adam Stein(@apstein2), Principal at APS Marketing. “For the user, keep up to date with ongoing security threats that could possibly impact their work at home. The user’s applications also need regular updating for ideal end-point protection.” 

Building Employee Trust and Buy-In

Security is only as strong as its weakest link. For Gene Delibero (@GeneDeLibero), CSO at GeekHive.com, ensuring strong security requires a strong security culture that educates and empowers workers.

“First, and perhaps most important, is creating a culture of accountability around security; it’s not just the company’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem,” says Delibero (@GeneDeLibero). “Organizations can’t expect remote employees to execute security measures effectively when they haven’t been trained on the company’s security policies.”

Steve Prentice (@cloudtweaksteve), a technology integration specialist, argues that truly dedicated organizations should build an entirely new architecture to make sure remote workers, and their devices, are up to the task. “This should become a new branch of internal IT security — specifically investigating, securing, and even penetrating the home offices of employees the same way as is done in an office. Employers should treat their employees’ home workspace and mobile technologies as branch offices — still a less expensive option than paying for building floor space, cubicles, etc.”

Isaac Sacolik (@nyike), President of StarCIO and author of “Digital Trailblazer,” adds that building a security culture should go hand in hand with building a positive work environment. “It all starts with the mindset and practices aimed at improving productivity and supporting work-life balance through flexible remote and hybrid work technology options. As employees gain trust with IT, they’re more open to learning and improving security, including locking down home networks, protecting data, and following IT’s recommendation on protecting devices.”

Securing Individual Devices 

After earning buy-in from employees, organizations still need to secure their devices. 

“Organizations should invest in a combination of asset management, endpoint detection, data loss prevention, cloud-based managed detection and response, and patch or vulnerability management,” says Kayne Mcgladrey (@kaynemcgladrey), Field CISO at Hyperproof and Senior IEEE Member. “Of those, asset management is the starting point, as an organization should have visibility into the devices accessing corporate data and be able to select and apply appropriate controls to those devices. Those controls then may include endpoint protection or data loss protection, for example, if exfiltration of sensitive corporate data may result in compliance violations.” 

Employing this strategy empowers an organization’s IT team to protect the corporate network from a wide range of threats, according to Will Kelly (@willkelly), a writer and analyst. “My best advice for protecting at home devices starts with a solid and robust mobile device management (MDM) solution and supporting processes. An MDM automates operating system updates, security patches, virus scanning, application updates, and device security configuration, such as setting a lock screen.”

Jack Gold (@jckgld), President and Principal Analyst at J.Gold Associates, LLC., takes that one step farther. “It’s important to segregate work at home devices from other users in the family. You probably don’t want your kids playing games or web surfing on the PC you use for doing work. That could be enforced by giving workers a corporate furnished — and managed — PC exclusively for their use.”

Ensuring Endpoint Security

Kieran Gilmurray (@KieranGilmurray), CEO at Digital Automation and Robotics Limited, feels that securing the corporate network relies on implementing quality endpoint security practices. 

“Threat actors have taken advantage of the pandemic by targeting unsuspecting remote workers. Every ‘at home’ network connected device is a potential entry point for criminal activity,” says Gilmurray. “So now, employees are provided with a secure VPN between their home network and their corporate offices. The only way to protect remote devices is to apply best practice corporate ‘endpoint’ security practices to every device attached to a home network.”

To compensate, organizations can take a strategic approach that prioritizes high risk accounts and devices. Peter Nichol (@PeterBNichol), Chief Technology Officer at OROCA Innovations instructs to “Start with what the employer can control. Be sure to prioritize energy around high-risk endpoints. Specifically, privileged accounts or accounts with elevated access should be managed within privileged access management (PAM). Companies who act on endpoint security today will save themselves big headaches tomorrow.”

Robust endpoint security helps reinforce human weaknesses in the corporate network, says Frank Cutitta (@fcutitta), CEO & Founder HealthTech Decisions Lab. “The human vulnerability overpowers any technological protection one can install. We’re always just one errant click away from ransom or breach. While it sounds incredibly obvious, setting your computer to lock after a short period of time can also minimize external access along with changing passwords frequently. Face or fingerprint recognition software adds added security.”

While endpoint security is an important part of a robust security apparatus, it won’t protect an organization’s corporate network on its own. “Some advanced precautions might seem like overkill for a home office, but not if we view the home office as a mere extension of the corporate network,” says Scott Schober (@ScottBVS), President/CEO at Berkeley Varitronics Systems, Inc. “Endpoint visibility and detection at each home office allows IT to view the actual number of endpoints that need protection.” 

The ultimate answer may come via strong partnerships: The same IDG/Insight survey found that 87% of respondents will rely on third-party providers for support with challenges around infrastructure, operations, and culture. 

“‘Endpoint anything,’ including protection that is based with on-premises technology, is limited in what it can do and what it can reach in today’s world. On-premises requires a lot of extra configuration and cost to support devices that are mostly remote when compared to a cloud-based solution in which touching or accessing a device from any location is just native with minimal infrastructure,” says Joseph Flynn, Director of Modern Workplace at Insight. “Endpoint security is harder to drive XDR types of services in an on-premises solution, as AI is usually in play. This tends to drive much of the automation and protection to streamline and increase capabilities. Having those capabilities on-premises in most tools is not possible unless they connect to some cloud platform”

Insight Enterprises, Inc. is a Fortune 500 solutions integrator helping organizations accelerate their digital journey to modernize their business and maximize the value of technology. Insight’s technical expertise spans cloud- and edge-based transformation solutions, with global scale and optimization built on 34 years of deep partnerships with the world’s leading and emerging technology providers.

Chrome Enterprise Upgrade (CEU) from Insight provides a simple and secure way to manage your devices. Try for free today

Data and Information Security

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Careers, CIO, CIO Leadership Live

For many enterprises, the pandemic involved rapidly deployed ways of enabling remote working. Today, the need for long-term solutions means that hybrid working is one of the top three trends driving network modernization – as reflected in the 2022-23 Global Network Report published by NTT.

According to the survey data for this report, 93% of CEOs agree that even if their staff return to the physical workplace, they will provide an expanded remote or hybrid-working policy.

But even though hybrid working is here to stay, organizations may still lack the cybersecurity controls and business-grade internet connections, like SD-WAN, that are required to support remote and hybrid workers. The burden on the network grows even as some employees start returning to the office.

The report flags three ways in which CIOs and CTOs are reshaping the physical workplace to meet these new demands:

Increasing Wi-Fi density and speed for seamless connectivity and high-bandwidth applicationsConverging information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) networksProviding modern meeting rooms and devices with high-resolution video

However, the impact of these increased burdens on enterprise networks isn’t always widely appreciated. Amit Dhingra, Executive Vice President of Enterprise Networking at NTT, says: “Nobody expected it. But the requirement on the network is increasing because even when we go into the office, we spend much of the day on high-definition video calls.

“The network was never built for that. It was built for in-person collaboration within the office, not virtual collaboration. But in the workplace, we have all become guzzlers of bandwidth in a way we were not before the pandemic.”

In the Global Network Report survey, 97% of CIOs and CTOs say that hybrid working leads to a higher demand for network connectivity, generated by both home and remote working.

The result: network managers now need to ensure that networks are both fit for remote working and able to cope with the demands of high bandwidth consumption in the workplace.

The survey also shows that 93% of CIOs and CTOs believe the campus network is the most critical element to enabling a resilient hybrid workplace.

On top of these challenges, Matthew Allen, Vice President, Service Offer Management – Networking at NTT, identifies a further difficulty. “Once you’ve got distributed employees all over the place, how does IT get visibility? How are those users accessing their systems? Are they performing to standard? If employees are not able to access key business systems no matter where they are, you have an issue. Lack of visibility is really one of the key problems that we have encountered.”

NTT’s recipe for hybrid working begins with zero trust network architecture, identity management and multifactor authentication. There’s also the requirement for a seamless transition between different work environments, says Allen: “Everyone returns to the office, carries their company laptop if they’ve got one, carries their phone, carries their watch, carries whatever. If I’m connecting all of these things at home, I want to be able to walk into my office and connect in a similar way without too much drama. If the underpinning technology enables that experience, this becomes a way to start bringing people back into offices.”

Finally, there’s the need to consider access technologies. Dhingra says: “It’s wireless-first if you ask us, perhaps wireless-only campus connectivity. Gone are the days when you used to have lots of fixed LAN cables. This is true in offices, and it’s true in factories too. This, combined with wireless access, enables manufacturers to rejig assembly lines within days, rather than months.”

Enabling productivity and effective collaboration amid hybrid working has become one of the top five business objectives for organizations, the Global Network Report shows. After what was – in many cases – a frantic transition at the start of the pandemic, it’s clear that a good deal more work remains to be done before enterprises can claim to have laid the foundations for a long-term hybrid-working strategy.

NTT’s Global Network Report takes stock of how networks are evolving, organizations’ preparedness for these changes and how they will adapt their networks to these new demands.

Download the 2022–23 Global Network Report

Networking

The negative impact of legacy networks can be substantial: increased operational costs, restricted potential for digital transformation and difficulty responding to the demands of the business. NTT’s research finds that two in three organizations confirm their technical debt has accumulated, with 71% saying that low network maturity levels are negatively impacting their operational delivery and ability to meet business goals.

Legacy networks are under unprecedented pressure. Upgrades and patches often run behind schedule. Points of vulnerability are multiplying. The shift to hybrid working requires more openings in firewalls, which in turn places a premium on frequent upgrades to firewall protections. Managers face a crisis of visibility, which is destined to get worse as more devices connect to enterprise networks. Research findings show that 93% of organization see the convergence of security and networking as a key focus of how future network characteristics will be changing.

Amit Dhingra, Executive Vice President of Enterprise Networks at NTT, identifies a raft of available protections, including the combination of identity-based security policies and zero trust network access (ZTNA).

Dhingra points out that ZTNA means remote users no longer have to tolerate reduced performance while VPNs “throttle everything down in order to inspect all the packets to ensure the right security protocols are in place. You can actually achieve the same benefit with ZTNA features that are readily available.”

In addition, Dhingra points to NTT’s anomaly detection services across multiple domains, and automated vulnerability assessments, both driven by AIOps. “In the past, this has been a very manual process,” he says. “Now, it happens instantaneously.”

The good news is that decision-makers are universally aware of the security risks that proliferate in the absence of these solutions. NTT’s research found that 90% of organizations say they need AIOps, automation & improved analytics to further optimize their network operations.  Overall, respondents identified inconsistent security policies and increased security risk as the leading consequences of underinvestment in the network.

The threats involved are familiar: 93% of organizations have no doubt that new vulnerabilities will drive increased security demands and 91% plan to move to an identity-based security architecture. Moreover, when NTT’s researchers asked what is driving network modernization, the number one answer was the ability to implement a cybersecurity mesh – the distributed architecture that enables a zero trust approach to network security.

One of the intriguing aspects of the research is the way it examines the network strategies of organizations that generate above-average financial returns. (NTT’s survey defines top-performing companies as those whose year-on-year operating margins were more than 15% and revenue growth was 10% or more in the last financial year).

Top performers are more likely to invest in cybersecurity (87% do so, compared with 41% of organizations not in the top-performing ranks). Notably, they are also more likely to involve their cybersecurity teams in network-vendor selection decisions. More broadly, top-performing organizations score highly in terms of the sophistication of their network strategy. For example, 79% told researchers their security strategy is fully aligned with business strategy. Only 48% of organizations performing at a lower level of commercial success said that this was the case.

Organizations that decide to upgrade their security posture face a wide array of choices and a need for new skills. Respondents to NTT’s survey identify a series of challenges arising from managing multiple vendors, ranging from SLA complexity to lack of interoperability and the difficulty of finding employees with the skills required to manage vendors.

As a result, nine out of 10 respondents agreed strongly that their organizations prefer paying for outcomes and buying from a catalog, with the ability to scale resources as necessary. This suggests a shift away from traditional in-house network management toward network-as-a-service offerings provided by specialist managed service providers (MSPs).

“Actually, this was a part of the report that surprised us,” says Dhingra. “We didn’t expect to hear that so many enterprises are looking to partner with managed service providers. But we do know that access to technologies and skills has become very challenging everywhere, in every part of the world. The answer for many enterprises will be to partner with MSPs who can provide those skills, and that access.”

Download the 2022–23 Global Network Report from NTT now. 

Networking

Senior executives around the world are realising their business success is irrevocably tied to their network strategy. Yet, the goalposts keep moving amid rapidly evolving network technology, making it harder to stay on a sustainable path of network growth.

This is clear from NTT’s 2022–23 Global Network Report, for which we conducted 1,378 in-depth interviews across 21 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Australia and New Zealand.

The interviews delivered a treasure trove of data about the importance of the network to organizations, how the network is transforming, how organizations manage and buy the network, and how it is delivered.

Insights from the top

From the survey results, another valuable layer of insight emerged: it soon became clear that most organizations at the top of their game from a business-performance perspective shared certain characteristics when it came to their network strategies.

For example, we found that nearly all executives (98%) agree that the network is a critical part of driving business growth – yet 72% believe that a lack of network maturity is negatively affecting their delivery and goals.

Ever-increasing security and compliance risks present further challenges. Distributed hybrid work models present far more attack opportunities for malicious actors, and compliance (including data privacy) is a complicated topic in a multicloud-enabled world. So, for most of our respondents, much remains to be done to future-proof their networks. But when we looked at the top performers, it was clear that they had already made great strides in this regard and in other areas.

We classified top performers as those with:

Higher revenue growth (increased by more than 10% in the last fiscal year)A stronger operating profit as a percentage of revenue (more than 15% in the last fiscal year)

Conversely, underperforming organizations were categorised as having:

Poor revenue growth (0% or less in the last fiscal year)A weaker operating profit as a percentage of revenue (less than 5% in the last fiscal year)

Network traits of top performers

Strategic alignment: Almost 9 in 10 top-performing organizations have aligned their technology strategy and their business goals; similarly, nearly 8 in 10 have aligned their network and business strategies, compared with only about 40% of underperformers on both counts.Investment in digital transformation and the network: Nearly 90% of top performers are accelerating their investment in digital transformation compared with less than half of underperformers.Increasing dependence on the network: Almost 70%of top performers believe strongly that their network dependency will grow in the next two years, but just more than 40% of underperformers say the same.Adoption of leading technologies: Almost 8 in 10 top performers have implemented leading technologies such as multicloud networking, edge computing, SD-WAN and 5G.A preference for outsourcing: More than 7 in 10 top performers already outsource most of their network management; more than half also believe their future network information technology needs will be fully outsourced and managed, compared with just over a quarter of underperformers.Network as a service: Top performers are almost twice as likely as underperformers to strongly prefer a network-as-a-service model (6 in 10 compared with 3 in 10).Sustainability: Top performers are almost 90% more likely to focus on sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals than underperformers.

These are just some of the many relevant and actionable insights contained in our full 2022–23 Global Network Report. The report also includes a look at the technologies on the rise that are affecting the network, suggests steps to follow to transform your network, and gives practical advice on future-proofing your network.

Download the 2022–23 Global Network Report now.

Amit Dhingra is Executive Vice President of Enterprise Network Services at NTT

Business, Business Intelligence, Multi Cloud

For years, we’ve known that Internet of Things (IoT) devices can come under attack as quickly as within five minutes of being connected to the internet. These events predominantly include large-scale scanning techniques to exploit IoT devices that are vulnerable to basic attacks such as default credentials.

Historically, hackers have used these attacks to create a network of devices to perform a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack; for example, Mirai Botnet. However, the more recent Verkada breach demonstrates the risks associated with devices that perform sensitive operations. While this might not directly present a security risk to companies utilizing IoT devices, the methods hackers used to exploit these devices should demonstrate the significant threat surface introduced by implementing IoT into any organization’s network.

Why it matters

The nature of the exploits being leveraged in recent ransomware attacks must be properly understood to ensure that the IoT devices the business is currently or planning to utilize in their infrastructure are secure. The OWASP Top 10 IoT list claims the number one issue with IoT devices is “weak, guessable, or hardcoded passwords,” demonstrating that not only are IoT devices becoming more prevalent in the industry but they are also being deployed with unacceptable network security measures.

As stated previously, the risk of IoT devices aiding in a DDoS attack on another business does not present an immediate risk to the IoT device consumer, but it could severely damage the reputation of any company that does not properly employ IoT cybersecurity controls to prevent a compromise of the devices on their network. Furthermore, the compromise of these devices can result in a variety of issues including, but not limited to, tampering with critical safety monitoring equipment; disruption to sensitive operations, such as manufacturing; or even a widespread attack on medical equipment on the shared network. In addition to the risks posed by compromised IoT devices, there continues to be regulatory guidance around securing devices and ensuring user privacy as evident in the recent U.S. Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.

What to do

Companies have a tremendous opportunity to incorporate IoT within their business to improve the efficiency of legacy processes, collect and operate on real-time data, and leverage the data collected to develop additional business process improvements, such as preventative maintenance. Considering all the benefits IoT has to offer, one can assume that IoT devices are not going away any time soon and will even start to become a market differentiator. So, what can be done to ensure IoT device vulnerabilities do not present a security threat to the network in which they are being deployed?

Conduct periodic device inventories: Device inventories should not only contain the type and quantity of devices, but should also include the hardware/firmware revisions, sensitive data being collected/processed, and the extent to which the device has network access. Additionally, the device should be evaluated against a list of known vulnerabilities to enable quick action if a vulnerability is discovered with a particular device.Network segmentation: The information gained from the device inventory helps demonstrate the extent of each device’s enterprise network access and potential segmentation. This data will allow users to begin to isolate critical infrastructure to prevent impact if a simple device were to be compromised. For example, any IoT device being utilized to monitor and ensure the safe operation of machinery should be isolated from a basic connected device such as a thermostat. These seemingly innocuous devices can be catastrophic to critical infrastructure if an insecure device is compromised and a threat vector is introduced to the broader ecosystem.Request device security documentation: Prior to procuring IoT devices, as well as throughout the device lifecycle, companies should feel empowered to consult the device manufacturers on the security posture of the devices being deployed onto your enterprise network. An OEM will likely not be willing or able to provide a full penetration test report considering the sensitive nature of the material, but in most cases will be able to provide proof of a third-party review in addition to the network security controls they employ by default. If security testing information cannot be provided by the OEM and the terms and conditions allow, the purchasing body should conduct penetration testing on the device independently.Managed solutions: There is an emerging market for tools designed to streamline the procedures outlined above. Companies should evaluate the use of managed solutions to dynamically conduct device inventory and monitor the security of the devices in real-time.

IoT devices provide significant benefits to businesses that are looking to improve their operations by implementing connected devices. However, the current state of IoT security is sub-par, to say the least. Before introducing IoT devices into a network, companies should evaluate the devices’ security, data collection practices, and network exposure. Additionally, the monitoring of IoT devices on a network is an ongoing process that should be evaluated continuously to stay up to date with the latest IoT risks and mitigations.

Learn more about Protiviti IoT services.

Connect with the authors:

Christine Livingston

Managing Director – Emerging Technologies, Protiviti

Matthew Freilich

Associate Director – Emerging Technologies, Protiviti

Caleb Davis

Senior Manager – Emerging Technologies, Protiviti

Security

By: Lars Koelendorf, EMEA Vice President, Solutions & Enablement at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Can an enterprise CEO today be successful without having a strong relationship with the CIO and the corporate network?

The short answer is no. Technology today powers and enables so much of how businesses function. Given the pace of digitization, the corporate network, led by the CIO, is increasingly becoming a critical business decision center for the CEO within the broader context of running a large enterprise.

In particular, there are three points CEOs today must consider when examining the network and their relationship with the CIO.

1. Investing in the network is foundational to achieving business goals

Is there any department across the modern enterprise business that would not benefit from the ability to work better, faster, easier, smarter, cheaper, and more secure?

The COVID-19 pandemic has already proven again and again why digital transformation is now fundamental to business growth and survival, especially in the face of outside, unanticipated events severely impacting normal business operations.

Matching technology with how business engages key publics, from clients to the community to investors and beyond, allows employees to create higher quality work while producing more competitive products and services that keep pace with ever-evolving demands. It means empowering back-end functions to support the rest of the business better than before. Meanwhile, regardless of which department they belong to or where they choose to work, employees must have the best experience possible, without any technical roadblocks and complications that can stop them from delivering their best work. Otherwise, employees will and are seeking out that environment elsewhere. Indeed, many employees actually experienced very good connectivity while working from home during the pandemic – and now demand that same easy and seamless experience coming back into the workplace or while on the road.

The key to creating that effective work environment is ensuring the CIO makes clear to the CEO the value of automated systems, which not only includes streamlining operations, but eliminating human error, overcoming human limitations, and freeing up employees to focus on projects that drive real value. In short, with the right technology, CIOs can drive actionable insights from the deluge of data that a given company has been accumulating that support the CEO’s long-term vision and business goals.

Enterprise data has the potential to deliver significant cost savings, improve operational efficiency, and even unlock new business opportunities and revenue streams. But first, it needs to be stored, secured, sorted, and analyzed – all of which a great enterprise network can facilitate.

To unlock its full potential, CEOs need to work closely with their CIOs and other department heads to understand the exact impact that the network could have on every area of the business.

2. The network also plays a vital role in achieving sustainability goals

Sustainability is not just a strategic priority. For most companies around the world, sustainability has become the priority, given that it’s being driven both from the top down (by company boards, investors, and governments) and from the bottom up (by employees, the general public, and key communities affected by business operations). In essence, networking capabilities must align with corporate sustainability goals and initiatives to truly achieve its full potential.

The network plays an integral role in empowering enterprises to become more sustainable, to measure and prove that sustainability, and to build more sustainable products and services. Therefore, investing in the right network infrastructure should be at the top of any CEO’s agenda, and they will need to work in tandem with the CIO and other relevant department heads to achieve those aims.

3. A modern network can help the enterprise stay ahead of potential pitfalls

Given the rate of change and disruption, any CEO simply investing just enough in the network to keep operations moving has already lost the plot. The CEO instead must work closely with the CIO to anticipate future business needs, opportunities, and threats, outlining clear goals and corresponding initiatives that ensure the modern network is flexible and nimble enough to meet the challenges.

It used to be that if the network were down, employees could do other manual work while waiting for a fix. Today, however, if there are issues with the network, everything stops, from the factory floor to the storefront to the corporate headquarters. In that sense, the network is mission-critical to keeping the business running.

But the network has so much more potential than this – to help the business continually stay ahead of and be differentiated from the competition. The reason is an agile network creates the foundation for every area of the business to innovate, from IT to R&D and logistics.

With an agile network, the infrastructure is always ready to integrate, support, secure, and fund any new technological developments that might help the business to move the needle on its goals.

Creating Strong C-suite Connections

While this particular article has focused on the relationship between the CEO and the network, at the end of the day, the CEO must empower the CIO to be an advocate for the network and support all C-suite members to work together towards building one that helps them achieve both individual departmental and collective organizational goals.

For more on creating a modern, agile network, learn about Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform): https://www.arubanetworks.com/solutions/aruba-esp/

Networking

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We are looking for people who are interested in blogging, speaking on webcasts, moderating Twitter chats, participating in crowd-sourced articles, and other content and social media activities in support of our technology clients.

The CIO Experts Network will also be home to our community of freelance writers , who can use the platform to seek out assignments to create custom blog posts, white papers, and other digital content on assignment.

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If you thought network operations was a daunting challenge in the past few years, wait until you see what’s around the corner.

First, let’s consider the disruptions in the recent past. COVID has led people to increasingly work from anywhere. Digital transformation is accelerating as enterprises rush to remodel their operating models. The cloud, for example, is the “go to” platform for almost everything now – from back-office processes to customer-facing applications, and the secure way to get to the cloud now is SD-WAN. 

Where does this leave the network? According to a global survey by Dimensional Research, not in a good place. The survey reveals that networks are experiencing explosive growth with new technology adoption: 49% of companies have 50,000 or more networked devices. Meanwhile, 73% of organizations indicate it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage their network.

Network blind spots are the key issue. Visibility gaps obscure knowledge about critical applications and service performance. They also hide security threats which can impact customer experience, revenue growth, and brand perception. Dimensional Research finds that 81% of organizations have network blind spots.

It’s what’s around the corner that matters too.

According to a new study by EMA, a network management megatrend in 2022 is a shortage of skilled networking personnel. This is contributing to the lack of success with network operations. More than 26% of enterprises, for example, are having “true difficulty” with staffing. IT organizations that struggle with hiring are also less likely to report overall success with network operations.

Why is hiring so difficult? Companies are struggling to find people with specialized networking skills, EMA reports. Leadership prefers lean staff/do more with less and the talent pool is too junior/inexperienced. Among the key skills in short supply are network monitoring, public cloud networking, and network troubleshooting.

Can traditional network management tools manage both the disruptive digital change and the skills shortage? Not really. Dimensional Research reports that current monitoring and operations solutions are ill-equipped to deliver the 360-degree visibility highlighted earlier. They also require a greater degree of manual intervention – exacerbating the skills shortage problem even further.

Removing the technology and skills bottlenecks to success

Help is around the corner though. New approaches such as Experience-Driven NetOps deliver the unified end-to-end network visibility needed to understand and manage the performance of digital services, while providing easily triage workflows that take the complexity out of finding the root cause of modern network performance issues This approach bridges network silos and extends monitoring reach into edge services, multi-cloud, SaaS, and further, allowing the enterprise to see every communication path and degradation point for the entire end-user experience.

According to the EMA study, “Enterprises that integrate network operations into a cross-domain operations center are more successful than those that keep network operations in a standalone NOC. When NetOps lives in a cross-domain operations center, network professionals spend more time on strategic projects.”

Take the case of a global technology company, which has adopted modern network monitoring to lower their total cost of ownership and improve operational visibility. The platform is reducing alarm noise by 70%, reducing manual work, and fostering customer confidence by continually meeting SLAs.

Network operations teams have a people problem and a technology problem. Adopting an Experience-Driven NetOps approach eliminates both challenges, removing the technology and skills bottlenecks to network operations success.

You can learn more about how to tackle the challenges of network visibility in this new eBook, Guide To Visibility Anywhere. Read now and discover how organizations can create network visibility anywhere.

Networking