Contributed By

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Chris Connor

Senior Director Product Management, Data Innovation of Comcast Business

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Is Your Company Ultra-Connected?

February 22, 2017

In today’s hyper-connected economy, your company is only as strong as your network connectivity.

IDC and Comcast Business teamed up to conduct a survey to understand how well equipped today’s companies are to support a distributed enterprise. IDC penned the article below – with some quotes from me – that discusses what we found. And if you’re interested in learning how to improve distributed enterprise connectivity in your organization, there’s a link at the end of the article to a free online tool that will help you see where you stack up against the competition.

In today’s hyper-connected economy, your company is only as strong as your network connectivity.

With technology becoming one of the primary ways customers interact with companies, networking capabilities are now a crucial part of the consumer experience. And as companies expand to include non-traditional office environments, remote employee options, and multiple locations and branches, a strong distributed enterprise network is becoming even more essential. Recent research conducted by IDC and Comcast Business revealed that most businesses are not adequately connected—but distributed enterprise solutions make it easy to fill the gaps.

Most Companies Fail the Distributed Enterprise Test

Despite the importance of a strong distributed enterprise network to the success of their business, a majority of companies fall short of achieving a desired level of connectivity. In IDC’s recent survey, 57% of IT professionals in companies with multiple branches or locations characterized their company as an “IT innovator.” However, when each company’s distributed enterprise networking strategy was assessed, only 14% qualified for the highest level of distributed enterprise connectivity, a level deemed “Ultra-Connected.”

How Does Your Distributed Network Measure Up?

Ultra-Connected (14% of companies). Centrally managed network using third-party providers. Relies on a mix of public internet and private WAN to serve remote workers.

Branch-Centric (34% of companies). Hybrid network of managed and unmanaged resources. Remote workers rely on private WAN to access network.

HQ-Centric (35% of companies). Hybrid network of managed and unmanaged resources. Remote workers rely on public internet.

Resister (17% of companies). Centrally managed network using in-house resources. Remote workers rely on public internet.

The Benefits of Being Ultra-Connected

Aside from the obvious benefits provided by a stronger network—such as greater security and faster bandwidth—there are several other advantages to being Ultra-Connected. One of the top benefits, according to Comcast Business’s senior director of product management, Chris Connor, is that advanced connectivity allows companies to create a consistent experience for both customers and employees—boosting both productivity and satisfaction.

“The remote employee is becoming a mainstay within the business world, and CIOs are trying to figure out how to maintain continuity so they can maintain productivity wherever they are,” Connor notes. “It provides a consistent experience for all parties—the employee, the employer, and the customer.”

This additional productivity resonates across an entire organization—with a powerful impact. According to IDC’s research, the companies that rank highest for distributed enterprise connectivity also have the best business performance outcomes, overall. In fact, when compared with lower-ranking companies, the study found that Ultra-Connecteds rank significantly higher across key performance indicators:

  • Increased revenue and profit margin
  • Time to market for new products
  • Operational costs
  • Customer satisfaction and retention
  • Employee productivity

Why does being Ultra-Connected convey a competitive advantage? In Connor’s opinion, many of these advantages come from the Ultra-Connecteds’ ability to scale.

The Best Practices of an Ultra-Connected Company

In its research, IDC identified three crucial areas of distributed enterprise networking sophistication, and found that Ultra-Connecteds excel in all three areas.

1. Connectivity Fundamentals
In creating a distributed networking strategy, Ultra-Connecteds are more likely to understand and prioritize the fundamentals than their competitors. These three fundamentals—security, cloud services availability, and sufficient bandwidth to support remote location needs—were listed as “extremely important” by 98% of Ultra-Connecteds surveyed. In comparison, only 68% of Resisters felt the same. Partnering with a provider allows companies to meet all of these fundamentals easily—from a secure and scalable Ethernet network and direct cloud connectivity to fast bandwidth that adjusts to both current and future business needs.

2. Cloud Importance
Companies with more sophisticated connectivity also place a higher importance on their cloud. Though survey respondents across all categories reported heavy cloud use—with 76% of their business applications running in a cloud solution—Ultra-Connecteds are more likely to have a hybrid cloud in their network. For instance, 42% of Ultra-Connecteds said they were providing dedicated private networks for cloud services, while only 12% of Branch-Centrics could say the same.

3. Third-party Managed Services
Perhaps one of the most distinctive best practices of Ultra-Connecteds is their decision to outsource networking services to third parties. Only 48% of Branch-Centrics use third-party managed services, while more than 80% of Ultra-Connecteds rely on outside help. By removing the burden of managing distributed enterprise connectivity from in-house staff, Ultra-Connecteds are able to take advantage of outside expertise and free up their internal IT staff to address other day-to-day business challenges.

Making Your Business Ultra-Connected

For companies interested in improving their distributed enterprise connectivity, Connor says his biggest advice is to sit down with someone who can help. “The first step is to assess what your technology needs are today and how you anticipate those needs changing over the next three to five years,” he says. “Then it’s a matter of sitting down with someone who really understands networking needs and can help you design, build, and manage an infrastructure that can scale with your company as it grows.”

Not sure how to assess your company’s distributed enterprise connectivity? Comcast Business’s Distributed Enterprise Transformation Index, built in conjunction with IDC, lets you see how your current distributed network stacks up against the competition. Visit https://distributedenterpriseindex.com/ to get your free customized report.

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