4 Signs It’s Time to Refresh Your Network in 2019

Your organization’s network has never been under more pressure to deliver. From high-bandwidth customer applications to collaborative tools for employees, technology powers business at every level. A strong network is the foundation of a reliable, productive and secure user experience. Yet for many organizations, upgrading their network is an afterthought. A strained or outdated network often shows common distress signals — a sign your network may need to be upgraded in the year ahead. Here’s a closer look at four indications that it’s time to take a closer look at your network health and performance.

You’ve Neglected Network Updates in Previous IT Planning

Spiceworks’ 2019 State of IT budget survey shows that a majority of mid-size businesses are investing in their underlying infrastructure. Networking is getting a big focus. The study reported that mid-size businesses will be spending up to 7% of their hardware budgets on networking. One signal that lets IT leaders know it’s time to upgrade is the simple fact that the priority has been pushed to the side for too long.

As CIO writes, networks are “often the IT resource that’s last on the priority list with the majority of focus given to applications. That might have been fine 20 years ago when most applications and data lived on the user’s computers. Also, IT had extremely tight control of the endpoints and applications so user experience was easy to manage. Since then, the world has blown up (at least from an IT perspective) with applications moving to the cloud and being procured by lines of business and workers bringing their own endpoints in.” Does your networking solution have the insights and management tools needed to navigate this changing landscape? For many leaders, a lack of necessary capabilities — or a series of manual networking solutions that take too much time and don’t deliver what’s needed — is an important signal that you need to take a deeper look at your network.

Questions to consider include:

  • When is the last time we upgraded our network? What was left off due to timing or budget constraints?
  • Since our last update, what solutions or technologies have emerged to give IT teams better network control?
  • How do our current needs in areas like application management, customer experience, security, bandwidth management and content delivery shape our networking needs?

Cybersecurity Threats Are Taking Up Too Much Time

At the same time, the rapidly evolving cybersecurity context is also causing businesses to reconsider their networking setups. In today’s digital landscape, there are nearly endless cybersecurity risks — from ransomware in your own backups causing attack loops, to sophisticated endpoint attacks on your mobile devices. If your team has spent significant time updating security precautions or fielding the data recovery aftermath of a cybersecurity incident, it may be time to look for more effective solutions that meet your organization’s unique needs.

For a mid-size business, a cyberattack is a looming threat that organizations need to take seriously. Spiceworks reports that 46% of organizations with 100 to 499 people cited increased security concerns as a major focus of larger IT investments in the year ahead. It’s often impossible to keep up with all the latest threats, especially with small teams that don’t have a dedicated cybersecurity expert on staff, as is the case for most mid-size companies. In the year ahead, organizations are increasingly looking toward better network monitoring tools and managed cybersecurity solutions to help protect their most important data.

Some factors to consider include:

  • What hardware and software investments could help improve your ability to manage cybersecurity threats?
  • What backup plans and data recovery tools do you have in place that could help you successfully weather a security issue?
  • Finally, if you’re a typical mid-size business, you may have limited staff. Consider how a managed cybersecurity solution could help keep your network secure in the year ahead.

You Can’t Support the Customer Experience Solutions You Need

Increasingly, customers are connecting with brands digitally — and that means more than via websites and social media channels. For businesses with a physical location, there’s an increase in customer applications handling everything from customer checkout to promotions and market research. Digitally, many organizations are providing online access to services, self-service account management and other features that require reliable, fast service.

Meeting the demands for customer experience starts with a strong network. Organizations are increasingly turning to SD-WAN and related tools to provide better insights on network demands. These solutions can provide better insights into what applications need to thrive, while also automating how bandwidth is allocated based on priority rules. It eliminates the need for real-time ongoing monitoring and, instead, makes it easier for your team to focus on the most urgent issues that your network is facing.

Identify your needs in this area by considering:

  • What emerging customer service or customer experience solutions are you offering in-store or online? How is that impacting your networking needs?
  • Could performance improve with better network insights?
  • Would the ability to use rules-based planning to prioritize bandwidth needs to your top applications provide a better customer experience, while also helping your team focus on high value activities?

Your Content Delivery Is Lagging Behind

There’s increasing pressure on organizations to deliver more content than ever before. According to a recent study from the Havas Group, 84% of customers expect content experiences from brands — and what’s more, Forbes reports that 80% of all web traffic in 2019 may be people watching bandwidth-draining videos.

Brands are under fire to find content-delivery solutions that enable them to host image-rich content, videos and more at the speeds audiences demand. With specialized content delivery networks, it’s possible to develop a custom solution for your specific content architecture. For many companies, this means end-to-end video hosting and channel distribution solutions — as well as scalable omni-channel content delivery platforms.

Consider:

  • What are your content needs? What file types and distribution options do you need to include in your network content delivery plan?
  • What solutions do you need now, and what do you anticipate needing in the next 24 months to find a solution that can scale with your changing business?
  • How are you using video within your content strategy and what implication does that have for your choices?

Your network may not have been your top priority in past IT upgrades, but it’s the foundation for performance and delivery that meets employee and customer needs. From better insights on network performance, to strong security precautions, shoring up your network can help. Make the strategic investments today to be competitive across all your technology needs.

Find out how CenturyLink can help you with your network needs in 2019.