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