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Decision-makers less confident in network investment

Research finds nearly nine in 10 of those responsible for network buying are less confident in investments, and two-thirds believe network technology’s rapid advancements hinder decision-making

Macroeconomic disruption has led to as many as 87% of IT decision-makers being a little or a lot less confident in the network investment decisions they make, and geopolitical events in the past three years have driven virtually half of them to admit they wish they had not made the networking decisions they did, according to a report from global internet services provider Arelion.

The Doubt, delay and regret: How global disruptors are impacting enterprise networks report was based on a survey carried out online in the first half of 2024 with 545 industry representatives in the US, UK, Germany and France. All participants were involved in decision-making regarding their company’s network development strategy, and all work for enterprises with over 2,000 employees. They came from industries including IT services (105); banking (104); manufacturing and engineering (92); and finance and financial services (91).

The report primarily aimed to provide insights into the extraordinary change – and specifically, the key disruptive forces – that enterprise leaders have seen impacting their organisations’ networks in recent years.

Among the topline findings were that 67% of those surveyed say the speed at which network technology is advancing is making it harder for them to make decisions about the hardware and services to deploy in the network.

This lack of confidence and hesitation appears to have led to some poor decisions. Some 44% of enterprise network decision-makers cited technological change as the most disruptive force in networking decisions, followed closely by rising costs (41%) and climate change (37%). Almost half of respondents (49%) regret their recent networking decisions.

Notwithstanding the challenges of the rate of technological change, 48% of the tech leaders said they were struggling to get staff with suitable skills, and as many as 92% said they will be using artificial Intelligence (AI)-based tools and systems to support their network management in the next 18 months. Half of these would be doing so in just six months.

Geographically, the US has the highest number of AI early adopters (54% in the next six months), while in terms of industry sectors, the pioneers appear to be in financial services (67%).

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Macroeconomic disruption has slowed down the investment in sustainability for some 81% of leaders in the past two years, with the strongest agreement on this coming from the US (48%) and the IT services industry (50%). On the other hand, 65% of decision-makers have managed to increase investments to make their network operations more energy efficient since 2022, and a resounding 84% think the quest for sustainable networking (net-zero emissions) is still realistic.

While a clear majority (79%) have documented contingency plans that address dealing with networking infrastructure impacted by geopolitical events, an alarming 19% did not have a backup plan. In manufacturing, the figure was 26%.

IT leaders were generally confident about their own networks’ current security measures – particularly in France and in IT services – but many (46%) worried about future threats that might evolve in the next couple of years, and 30% of them admitted this causes them stress.

“The findings of our research suggests that, over the past three years, enterprise network decision-makers are reeling from the effects of excessive change and disruption,” said Arelion chief evangelist Mattias Fridström.

“[Decision-makers] admit they’re feeling the heat,” he said. “Their decision-making confidence has been undermined, doubt and indecision has crept in, and delays have ensued. Most strikingly of all, almost half regret networking decisions they’ve taken.

“However, constant change and disruption are a fact of business life,” added Fridström. “The goal for enterprise network operators must be to prepare for it by considering their network strategy and their choice of network provider. They should seek support that will enable them to make confident, timely decisions and implement effective efficient network management solutions – avoiding doubt, delay and, above all, regret.”

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