Unless you’ve been living off the grid the past decade, you know that data is everything in business these days. Those who access the right data and apply it the right way are the ones who stay on top.
We typically hear about data in relation to marketing and sales. But network operations teams are learning that they can use data to make a big difference as well.
The truth is, as organizations transform into full-fledged digital organizations, networks are becoming the most valuable source of company insight. In sectors like finance, healthcare, manufacturing and retail, virtually every key business decision is tied to network data.
With network data, you not only get a picture of the vitality and performance of the IT infrastructure, you get a clear picture of business processes as well. You’re able to see a comprehensive record of network connections: Who accesses it, the time of day, through which device, and their reason of doing so. That’s the value of analytics to the business.
You can slice and dice all kinds of data sets. For example, you can determine who’s performing better, salespeople with tablets or salespeople with smartphones. Your network team can access this type of data, but it’s meaningless if they can’t provide the critical insight. Business leaders, accordingly, must supply the appropriate tools and technology.
Of course, you might be thinking I’m stating the obvious. It’s nothing revolutionary for network managers to leverage data. They’ve been doing that a long time. The difference is, they’ve typically paid attention to tools that support network operations. Today’s tools are a world apart, in that they’re based on technologies like artificial intelligence that exponentially expand the value of network.
Network managers are increasingly making the shift to an analytics-based role. In fact, about half of network managers use advanced analytics technologies. Popular projects come in the form of enhanced network security monitoring and business process optimization.
With analytics, you can determine how technology changes can affect the bottom line. For example, could a network upgrade drive more profitable transactions? Can a better POS system get employees to use it more often? Could faster Wi-FI convert more shoppers to customers?
Analytics are a perfect fit for Network service providers, as they’re the best segment to fully exploit the power of network analytics. In fact, in our understanding of the landscape, the majority of advanced network analytics companies gear their offerings to service providers.
Another group ideally primed for analytics is enterprise network teams. Network monitoring vendors have been readjusting their products so customers can focus more on business processes and business insights.
However, despite the importance of gaining insight, network managers will need more from their tools in the long run. They’ll need to translate that insight into practical business terms. And, they’ll require reports and dashboards that can be understood by non-technical employees and executives.
Vendors are helping network managers to achieve that level of functionality by allowing for customization of their products. Down the line, we foresee vendors starting to offer professional services to further aid network managers.
Not many could have predicted the analytics revolution that began 10 years ago. And not many can say for sure what the next decade will bring. What we do know, however, is that network operations will continue to play a bigger role in major business decisions.