Introduction

Until recently, most organisations considering the future of their networks talked about “migration” and /or “enhancements”. However, over the last 12-24 months, more and more organisations are talking about “transformation”.

So, what’s the difference, why the change, and, most importantly, what must you do to truly transform your network?

Migration vs. Transformation

At first this may seem to be nothing more than a change in terminology, but it isn’t. The reason why people are talking about transformation is because the role of the network is fundamentally changing, and therefore the approach organisations are having to take to achieve their goals is also changing.

For many years, most of the variables within networks were relatively fixed:

  • Most organisations used MPLS as their backbone technology
  • Most organisations used a single service provider
  • Most organisations used a managed service solution

The relatively fixed nature of these variables meant that, whilst migrating a network was always an option, transformation opportunities were few and far between

Add in that, for many organisations, the network wasn’t always mission critical and certainly wasn’t part of the fundamental go-to-market strategy for the business, and it is easy to see why the IT departments generally had very little scope or incentive to transform or significantly improve their networks.

However, if we fast forward to today, almost all those variables are in motion:

  • More and more organisations are co-existing MPLS with other technologies such as internet and SD-WAN
  • More and more organisations are either using multiple service providers today, or are planning on doing so in the future
  • The profusion of technologies and service providers means many more organisations are moving away from a default “managed service model” to something more bespoke

Add to this that the network is increasingly becoming a fundamental component of the business operation, and it quickly becomes clear that the development of a network transformation strategy is an important initiative now being considered at the board level.

Hence the change from migration to transformation. For an organisation to achieve its objectives for its network solution, it now has to develop and execute a strategy for every aspect of its network, including technology, commercials, operating model, management and the change programme to achieve these objectives.

Through this white paper, we will explore the critical factors to achieve a successful network transformation.

Success Factor 1:
Define Your Strategy

In the good old days, a network strategy could be as simple as “more bandwidth, lower cost”, but today’s network strategy needs to be far more holistic, addressing current and future requirements, understanding the developing application strategy and workloads, aligning to the wider business and IT strategies, and making clear how all aspects of the network will need to change to address these needs.

Success Factor 2:
Get on Top of Your Inventory

Inventory management has never been easy – telco billing can be dreadfully inaccurate, and organisations with fast-changing estates have always struggled to manage sites and services. Beware though – it’s only going to get more challenging with a wider range of services and potentially more service providers, so it’s vital you get on top of your inventory early in your transformation and develop processes to ensure you stay on top moving forwards.

Success Factor 3:
Define Your Target Operating Model

The biggest single omission from most network strategies is the Target Operating Model (TOM). Moving to hybrid networks, incorporating SD-WAN, augmenting capabilities with systems integrators – all of these things fundamentally change the roles and responsibilities of the end-user organisation and most likely mean you need to change and/or upgrade your people, systems, and processes. It’s absolutely vital that you really get to the bottom of what this future state looks like and, of course, incorporate the necessary up-skilling, augmentation, recruitment etc. into your transformation plan, as well as procuring and on-boarding the relevant tools and systems to support your new environment.

Success Factor 4:
Don’t Forget the Commercials

Many network transformation programmes focus almost exclusively on the technologies to be deployed, and pay surprisingly little attention to the commercial aspects of the network, forgetting that without the supporting business case, even the very best transformation is unlikely to succeed. It’s critical to develop and gain support for a robust business case that shows how the future-state environment is going to align to budgets, what investment will be required etc. Of course, if you can show that you can deliver the end-state AND save money, its going to be far easier to gain support and buy-in to your strategy.

Success Factor 5:
Be Realistic with Your Roadmap

Pretty much all network transformations take longer than envisaged, and the main reason is unrealistic planning. Time and again TNC sees roadmaps that envisage procurement processes and roll-outs taking half the time or less than is realistic, which can fundamentally undermine the viability of a programme, as well as land those leading the programme with some difficult conversations.

Success Factor 6:
Resource Your Plan Effectively

The final success factor comes down to resourcing – the scale of most network transformations now makes them a programme in their own right and leading them almost certainly requires dedicated resources with the experience, time and support to drive them forwards.

Summary

Achieving the optimised end state for networks for most organisations has become considerably more complex, challenging, and risky. With networks touching almost every part of the organisation, increasingly part of the go-to-market strategy, and reflecting the radical pace of change in the industry, it is easy to see why changing networks can no longer be considered a “migration” – these days it’s a “transformation”.

Achieving a successful transformation requires you to tackle a much broader range of elements, and to nail them all. Of course, it’s not easy, but what is key is that you take the time to tackle all these elements completely, and ensure you have the skills and resources in place to do so.

To help customers with the strategic planning and preparation for their network transformation, TNC has developed a strategy development and transformation framework to assist customers at each step of the process from baselining current services, business case creation, statement of requirement development, option analysis and sourcing strategy.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you on your network transformation journey, we would be delighted to talk to you and share our experience and knowledge.

Disclaimer

Other than matters relating to The Network Collective, this research is based on current public information that we consider reliable. Opinions expressed may change without notice and may differ from views set out in other documents created by The Network Collective. The above information is provided for informational purposes only and without any obligation, whether contractual or otherwise. No warranty or representation is made as to the correctness, completeness and accuracy of the information given or the assessments made.

This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Clients should consider whether any advice or recommendation in this research is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if appropriate, seek professional advice.

No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of The Network Collective Limited © 2019

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