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Despite continued demand for hybrid working and three-quarters of global IT leaders believing digitisation is fundamental to employees being able to do their jobs and for talent attraction and retention, firms are failing to recognise the full extent of the connection between their enterprise network and the employee experience, with only just over half seeing the strong relevance of the network to these areas, research by HPE Aruba Networking has found.
The study, Harnessing the network advantage for what comes next, aimed to reveal insights to help IT leaders deliver business outcomes. Featuring responses from 2,100 IT leaders across 21 countries, it examined how IT leaders are currently approaching the enterprise network and assessed the extent to which they and the organisation understand its role as a business-boosting asset and the impact they are seeing as a result.
One of the key findings was that there was a growing recognition from IT and business leaders of the breadth and scope of the network’s impact. Some 44% of the IT leaders said their network was primarily viewed by the business and its leadership as a tool for digital transformation, while a further 33% said their organisation saw it playing a role in broader business transformation. In contrast, only 23% said their organisation recognised the network merely for its functional connectivity.
The top three strongest connections IT leaders made between the network and various parts of the business were IT efficiency, operational efficiency and cyber security – the core elements of most digital transformation projects. These were also the areas where respondents were seeing the biggest impact of the network, and, perhaps more crucially, where those who had invested in the network within the past two years were seeing the greatest business outcomes. By contrast, those who hadn’t been able to invest in the network reported 21 percentage points less positive impact on average across all business areas.
However, the survey findings also pointed to missed connections in where digital transformation might come from, particularly with regards to delivering employee experiences. Three-quarters of IT leaders believed digitisation was fundamental both for talent attraction and to employees being able to do their jobs.
With recognition of the network’s relevance to employee attraction and retention the lowest of all the business areas listed, HPE Aruba said it was perhaps unsurprising that this was also the area where IT leaders estimate that the network is currently having the least impact. Or the least positive impact.
The company added that such an impact became more apparent when considering what today’s networks seem capable of delivering. Only 43% of IT leaders said their network enabled staff to work from anywhere, and just 34% agreed that their network delivered seamless connectivity. And with digital personalisation in mind, even fewer (29%) noted that their network enabled them to offer employees a bring-your-own-device service.
“Given the prevalence and demand for flexible working, the lack of understanding around how the network can enhance employee experiences seems a particularly dangerous miss,” observed HPE Aruba Networking’s chief marketing officer, Sylvia Hooks. “The simple fact is that no one can do their job nowadays without the network. But, while organisations are recognising the network as a business-critical resource in enhancing their digital transformation journey, in today’s working environment this requirement goes way beyond offering connectivity – a more seamless, efficient, intelligent and securely connected experience is essential.”
While investment is critical for deepening the network’s returns, the survey also showed there was still untapped potential for the network to deliver across additional business-boosting areas. To unlock the network’s true potential, budget should be channelled into the right infrastructure – one that modernises all aspects of network operations.
“A modern network can not only strengthen employee experiences and attract the right talent pool, but it also has the potential to deliver impact across all areas of the business,” said Larry Lunetta, vice-president of portfolio solutions marketing at HPE Aruba Networking. “However, to realise this broader transformation, IT leaders need to reframe network discussions and start talking in terms of business outcomes versus technical specs. Only by doing this can they show the C-suite that investment correlates to positive impact and drives business value.”
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