Long Live The Network!

Survey findings by Allied Telesis International highlight the total dependency which UK businesses place on their network infrastructure and the professionals that manage those networks.

Organisations continue to place huge amounts of vital company data and information on corporate networks and in the cloud. They are also increasing the shared areas, devices and applications that employees are dependent upon as well as the adoption of video conferencing and collaborative work practices. Dependency on a reliable network has never been greater.

But whilst the findings revealed a fundamental dependency on the network to perform day-to-day operations, they also show significant incidents of network downtime and a growing sense of frustration amongst managers due to the consequences of network failure. These failures are costly and far-reaching.

The independent study canvassed 401 managers in large UK companies across nine key sectors across the public and private sector:

  • 92% of managers are reliant on access on the network – nearly half of these cite it as crucial to their job
  • 86% of managers experience some form of downtime every month, with as many as 28% experiencing five or more instances of downtime in a one-month period
  • 68% of respondents cited slow internet or inability to access documents from a network as affecting their productivity
  • Slow internet or inability to access documents from a network has a major effect on their ability, and the ability of their team, to complete essential business tasks. The most cited issues include: Reduction in team productivity (48%), inability to respond to clients and suppliers (35%) and working longer hours to compensate for lost regular working hours (32%).

Despite the importance of a reliable and effective network infrastructure, many managers do not necessarily equate this with a need for smarter investment of IT budget into people and resources associated with the network. When polled about where IT budget should be allocated, over a third of managers would rather see investment in user hardware (38%) versus just 18% who would like to IT budget spent on upgrading their network.

Furthermore, when faced with a network issue only 26% of respondents said they would report the issue to a person dedicated to looking after the network. The largest number (46%) would elevate to the IT helpdesk, worryingly 2% didn’t know who they flag a problem to and 16% said they wouldn’t flag the issue at all, inevitably presuming it would go away on its own.

Jane Brett, UK & Ireland sales director at Allied Telesis International: “The findings of this survey show that dependence on network IT infrastructure is greater than ever. In my opinion this will only increase particularly as we see the edge of an organisation’s network extend beyond the office to home workers, remote devices, suppliers etc.

“The secure management of the network is more complex than ever. What is concerning is the frequency of network downtime experienced by managers across the UK and the consequences of this poor connectivity. It’s clear that the inability to access networked information, applications and services is one of the most significant sources of frustration in today’s business world.”

Brett concludes: “However, it is also concerning that managers don’t necessarily see the link between investing in the network and the commercial business benefits that such connectivity provides. The key is to think about ‘investing smarter’ – doing more for less is the intelligent approach. Organisations can’t keep trying to do the same for smaller budgets and its impossible.

“The network is the ‘life blood fabric’ of the organisation. 38% would like to see an investment in hardware or devices rather than just 18% who would prefer see investment in the network. The reality of course is that without a robust, reliable network, investment in new laptops, smartphones or tablet devices is wasted money as they will never maximise their potential if the connectivity is poor.”

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.