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How to build a network for the digital age: insights from Gartner Barcelona

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08 . November  2017

Global Services

Posts nach Autoren: Global Services, We’re a leading global business communications provider

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Yesterday, our CEO, Bas Burger took to the stage to discuss one of the biggest challenges CEOs are currently facing: 86% say they’re challenged by infrastructure – from inflexible technology and security concerns to missing skills – so how can they successfully build networks fit for the digital age? He was joined by Chet Patel, our President of Continental Europe, and two of our global customers - Philippe Panis, IT Infrastructure Director at Belgian chemical company, Solvay and Álvaro de Nicolás, CTO at global travel distributor, Hotelbeds Group.

Bas stated that the world is becoming less forgiving.  No matter how agile or progressive your business may be, if you don’t protect against the risk of business disruption - either from malicious attack or operational incident – you could face severe consequences from your customers, regulators and investors.  You need to increasingly predict and pre-empt the risks and uncertainties you’re facing, and react quickly if problems arise. For the vast majority of our customers, their entire business model is dependent on the level of performance and availability of the critical managed services they buy from us. From the conversation amongst the panelists, it’s clear that it’s a complex operating landscape for multi-nationals – one that is full of risk, uncertainty, and constantly being disrupted by the unending advances in technology. For example, 90% of organisations know they’ll be disrupted, but only 11% feel ready to adapt.

Solvay has often been at the cutting-edge of technology adoption, for example, several years ago, they moved to an MPLS and VPN-based network. They were also one of the early adopters of Google apps, and have run proof of concepts with many new applications. However, they have struggled showing the value-add to the business units. Recently ‘digital mushrooms’ have been popping up at Solvay, and it’s Philippe challenge  to make sure that they are supported with the right efficiency, speed and agility. Philippe said Solvay isn’t in the 4% of companies that are implementing SD-WAN yet, but he wants to pilot future network technologies in the next year which will deliver more agile forecasting, as well as better network resource, classes of sites and performance level allocation.

The panel discussed key market drivers that drive IT infrastructure decisions. New technologies are coming while requirements are changing, so they are looking for a trusted global partner in sea of niche players and providers. According to Gartner, interconnected platforms and ecosystems are essential to scale out. Hybrid integration is a must have to modernise legacy apps and digitise your platform. For Álvaro, it’s important that his IT infrastructure is managed by experts. Most of his cloud partners are managed by our Cloud of Clouds. For Philippe, a good partnership is needed, with full transparency, so all partners can stay hands-on.

Álvaro talked about how Hotelbeds Group need to cater for their peaks in demand every January and June, by flexing up and down their agent requirements accordingly. Networks need to support digital-centric business transformation, enabled by a move to the cloud and the requirement to manage or drive down costs as bandwidth needs grow exponentially.

For both Solvay and Hotelbeds Group, having access to the right skills to digitally transform their business, is a priority. This has been a key topic at the Symposium, which Gartner calls ‘digital dexterity’. A new set of skills is required in a high-performing workplace /  force. And the secret to digital is ‘analogue’, being the people you already have. Philippe talked about the age pyramid with Solvay, that needs to adapt. Álvaro explained that to get the right skills and expertise to help them with their digital transformation, they’re doing a mix of developing their internal people, and recruiting talent from outside the business. There’s clearly great demand for millennials.

Philippe mentioned that the granularity of network is so important, especially protecting IP over the network. Due to a recent acquisition, Solvay is now dealing with customers like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, with the latter working for the US Ministry of Defence, with strict regulation and huge security needs. The number of cyber-attacks is on the rise, up 164% so far this year from 2016. So, given the pervasive threat of cyber-attack, security needs to be the focus more than ever.

During this week’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Barcelona, Bas’s conversations are being dominated by discussions around the right infrastructure for successful digital transformation and the growth in future networks using SD-WAN. The journey to building a network infrastructure that will support today and tomorrow’s cloud business applications is complex one. There are many new digital technologies - hybrid networking, Virtual CPE, SD-WAN, NFV and SDN - but with them come many myths and many questions. Do you really know what applications you are running? Do you understand the policies and regulatory regimes you need to operate under? Do you know how to secure your data and your usage of it?

You can find the answers to these questions in our whitepaper, ‘Riding the wave: How CIOs are shaping their networks for a digital future’, or you can compare yourselves on your SD-WAN adoption against your peers via our online Dynamic Network Services (DyNS) tool at www.bt.com/shapethefuture.