Step one of our Six Steps to a Better (more agile) Network Series

Your network directly supports the applications and infrastructure that process transactions, handles the customer data that yield market insights, and supports the analytical tools that help executives and managers make and communicate the decisions shaping your organization and driving its growth.

While it may seem obvious that network strategy must be aligned with business strategy, a Bain & Company survey of more than 500 senior executives found that despite devoting enormous resources and energy trying to align IT investments with their most important business needs, fewer than one in five felt their efforts were succeeding.

To connect the dots between business and IT we need to fight the temptations toward incremental progress, jumping on common industry trends, or embracing specific vendor architectures. I don’t go to a networking conference these days, for example, where I don’t run into at least one IT team that is there to figure out how they should implement this or that vendor’s SD-WAN solution with a very limited view of how it links to or might support business needs.

In our network transformation practice, we’ve adopted Gartner’s framework for Creating a Business-Relevant Network Strategy. At the core of this framework is a gap analysis that maps business priorities against current state network and IT architecture. The key is to take a structured approach that captures business and IT drivers, IT environment, user environment and external environment as the key inputs. Action plans are then built from a gap analysis of a desired future state versus the current state. Constraints in budget, staffing, and time drive prioritization against the gap analysis and create a closed loop with the business strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about this framework, we have a simple assessment that can help determine if it might work for you.

Next week, we’ll dive into Step 2: Segment your network.