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The computer and the network that connects them are both inextricably linked to the success of any business. This truth is at the heart of our contemporary connection economy.
“The computer patiently measures and reports. [T]he network creates value in connection. The connection economy values the bridges between the nodes as much as the nodes themselves.” – Seth Godin
This train of thought explains why Uber is worth more than the independent cars it connects. It also describes the imperative for enterprises to redefine their network in order to operate in the modern data economy. The instantiation of today’s data economy lies in the digital supply chain that links customer demand and organizational products. This reality surfaces the need for organizations to transform their supply chains into demand and product networks. This strategic vector increasingly includes the Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and their joint ability to support new and varied digital products.
Networks and networked devices are just as vital to a business as they are, in many cases, integral to the digital product itself. Many modern business models boil down to having the ability to connect information seekers to service providers that serve as information sources. Uber, AirBNB, and Travelocity are all examples of this sort of business transformation that can be created through the real-time management of information accessible via network connected devices. This same business model could be just as effective in any company if it was able to focus on delivering customer centric services in a rapid, network enhanced manner. Linking chain-of-delivery communications, for example, could optimize just about any business model that could benefit from gaining scheduling efficiencies.
Another impressive reality lies in how IoT is becoming the glue of the extended network supply chain. Through the use of machine-to-machine communications, physical product sensor data can now provide new and different insights into supply chain efficiency and customer service levels. These innovations are even providing direct linkage between maintenance contracts and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
With extended digital supply chains supported by business driven IoT technologies operating over a software defined networked environment, the digital economy is directly connected to the larger enterprise. With this capability, companies can effectively respond to real-time information, capture opportunities and flexibly solve their customer’s problems. This concept transforms supply chain silos into product and demand networks. It facilitates real-time information exchange and drives the required focus on customer centricity and speed. This approach also leads to a successful accomplishment of seven key tasks that enables your business model to thrive in today’s connection economy:
- Deliver sustainable product innovation that wins market share and meets regulatory and quality requirements
- Execute demand-driven business processes that effectively address strategic, financial, sales, and operational goals
- Sense customer demand, orchestrate your production supply chain and respond with appropriate services in real-time with profit
- Maximize automation and enable full visibility and transparency of your internal and external operations
- Integrate your digital supply chain, physical logistics and order fulfillment processes in a way that delivers wildly satisfied customers
- Operate and manage all assets at lower risk, improved security, higher safety, better quality and with improve return on assets
- Monitor and measure everything using real-time network management tools that sense, analyze, and predict events and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Accomplishing all of these tasks requires a competent and experienced enterprise network management team that can ensure efficient connections and improved network agility. These two attributes are essential to attaining the twin organizational goals of reduced cost and reduced complexity. At a minimum, your team must be adept at network management automation, software defined networking and cloud networking operations. Needed capabilities could also include:
- Enterprise WAN redesign
- Rapid expansion of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)
- Software defined networking to enable end-to-end programmability and automation
- Cognitive computing advances for more capable network assurance and troubleshooting capabilities.
- Location-based services that support enterprise applications
Your return on these network investments will be realized through less network downtime, improved staff efficiencies and enhanced industry competitiveness.
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