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Optimised network infrastructure, visibility, experience management form next frontier in business

Business leaders, C-suite and IT decision-makers must come together to ensure that they invest in the right infrastructure or they will face business failure, says Riverbed report

The vast majority of C-suite, business leaders and IT decision-makers believe that digital performance is increasingly critical to business growth and that enhancing the customer’s digital experience is more and more important for long-term success, according to new research from Riverbed.

The networks and applications performance and visibility technology firm said the challenge for many IT teams when embarking on the quick introduction of new technology has shifted from imagining the improvements these systems can bring, and their implementation, to the maintenance of the new systems.

It added that when development turns into a habit in this way, creative innovation often suffers first. In the digital-first age, where competitive advantage is critical, diminished creativity and innovation is not an option for business, it said.

The report, Rethink possible: visibility and network performance – the pillars of business, set out to understand the challenges that customers, and the market, face in driving creativity, innovation and productivity, and provide guidance and solutions to digital enablement. It detailed the attitudes about innovation, productivity, human behaviour and IT capabilities held by more than 1,700 tech executives across six countries – 204 C-level, 758 business decision-makers and 764 IT decision-makers.

Fundamentally, the report revealed that optimised network infrastructure, visibility and digital experience management are the next frontier for business success. Some 86% of senior managers and boardroom executives said digital performance is increasingly critical to business growth, and 84% believed that enhancing the customer’s digital experience is increasingly critical to long-term success.

Yet the report also exposed organisational disconnects and proved that digital expectations and reality do not match up. Despite the clear belief that digital performance is critical to business, two-thirds of respondents believed the technology their organisations use today has contributed significantly to employee churn. Nearly three-fifths of employees said they are dissatisfied with their job because of outdated technology and under-investment.

The sharp rise in the amount of data flowing through the network is putting pressure on IT leaders to deploy next-generation infrastructure, but despite the importance that the C-suite and business leaders place on digital performance, many IT decision-makers think they are doing enough.

The study showed that four-fifths of IT decision-makers believe they are doing everything they can to make sure their network runs well. Yet at the same time, nearly three-quarters of C-suite (73%), business leaders (73%) and IT decision-makers (74%) feel frustrated by their company’s IT performance, with legacy IT infrastructure and slow applications stated as key reasons for poor performance.

This was simply unacceptable, said Riverbed. In the “digital-first” age, it said, businesses cannot afford the cost that slow-running systems and poor performance will have on their bottom line and, fundamentally, the digital experience. Technology limitations, especially slow-running networks, are affecting employees’ job satisfaction, ability to do their work, and are thought to be costing companies money.

But the biggest pain point for IT decision-makers was found to be slow-running systems, as consumers and employees demand always-on networks.

Almost two-fifths (38%) of the IT decision-makers surveyed said they receive queries about slow-running systems at least once a day, with 80% of IT professionals receiving complaints and infrastructure outages more than once a week.

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Riverbed said it was clear that business leaders, C-suite and IT decision-makers must come together to ensure that they invest in the right infrastructure, or they will face business failure. It added that with the expectation of high digital performance now a staple in people’s working lives, achieving clarity over the cause of infrastructure issues is vital to identify how to overcome the problems and find the right solutions to drive business growth.

Looking at what managers had sight of in their efforts to stay in control of their networks, Riverbed found that 70% said they only have visibility over applications, network and end-users, and not necessarily full visibility over their infrastructure. Therefore, nearly one-third do not have full visibility over applications, their networks and/or end-users.

More than half (58%) of business decision-makers said they currently do not have enough visibility into the performance of their company’s networks, and 83% of IT decision-makers said there should be more investment in technology solutions that enhance overall IT visibility.

Riverbed warned that without comprehensive visibility, there is no way that IT decision-makers can help their businesses measure the digital experience provided by their organisations. This, it said, is an area that requires focus, and one that must be addressed if businesses are to steer successfully through digital transformation initiatives.

It stressed that if a business does not feel it has full visibility over the network and IT can’t identify and fix pain points, then digital transformation efforts will falter.

Riverbed concluded that from complex integration with legacy systems to a lack of knowledge, and resistance to change, businesses need to be able to message and manage digital transformation initiatives, to set expectations with the wider organisation and meet the needs of stakeholders and employees alike.

Both IT decision-makers and business leaders see the benefit of having greater insight and visibility over digital performance, it said, but the question remains why more investment is not being made, especially as the top priority for businesses across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is growth.

The bottom line, said Riverbed, is that in 2020, technology should not hold business back. It should be empowering business and giving employers and employees a platform on which to be creative, innovative and, above all, productive.

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