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Lack of network understanding amongst IT leaders

Despite the continued demand for hybrid working, global IT leaders are failing to recognise the full extent of the connection between their enterprise network and employee experiences. 

That's according to the latest research released by HPE Aruba Networking, which found that while three quarters of respondents believe digitisation is fundamental both to employees being able to do their jobs and for talent attraction and retention, just 55% see the strong relevance of the network to these areas.

The research, which features responses from 2,100 IT leaders across 21 countries, examined how IT leaders are currently approaching the enterprise network, and assessed the extent to which they and the organisation understand its role as a business-boosting asset and the impact they are seeing as a result.

The role of the network

On a positive note, there is a growing recognition from IT and business leaders of the breadth and scope of the networks impact. According to 44% of IT leaders the network is primarily viewed by their business and its leadership as a tool for digital transformation, while a further 33% say their organisation sees it playing a role in broader business transformation. In contrast, only 23% say their organisation recognises the network merely for its functional connectivity.

However, the results also pointed to missed connections in where this transformation might come from particularly with regards to delivering employee experiences.

Connecting employee experiences with the network

Three quarters of IT leaders believe digitisation is fundamental both for talent attraction and to employees being able to do their jobs. However, with recognition of the networks relevance to employee attraction and retention the lowest of all the business areas listed, it is perhaps unsurprising that this was also the area where IT leaders estimate that the network is currently having the least impact. Or the least positive impact.

This impact becomes apparent when considering what todays networks seem capable of delivering only 43% of IT leaders say their network enables staff to work from anywhere, and just 34% agree that their network can deliver seamless connectivity. Meanwhile, with digital personalisation in mind, even fewer (29%) note that their network enables them to offer employees a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) service.

"Given the prevalence and demand for flexible working, the lack of understanding around how the network can enhance employee experiences seems a particularly dangerous miss," says Sylvia Hooks, CMO, HPE Aruba Networking. 

"The simple fact is that no one can do their job nowadays without the network. But, while organisations are recognising the network as a business-critical resource in enhancing their digital transformation journey, in today's working environment this requirement goes way beyond offering connectivity a more seamless, efficient, intelligent and securely connected experience is essential."

Where is the network currently delivering return on investment?

The top three strongest connections IT leaders made between the network and various parts of the business were IT efficiency, operational efficiency, and cybersecurity (core elements of most digital transformation projects).

These were also the areas where respondents are seeing the biggest impact of the network, and, perhaps more crucially, where those who have invested in the network within the last two years are seeing the greatest business outcomes. Comparatively, those who haven't been able to invest in the network reported 21 percentage points less positive impact on average across all business areas.

While investment is critical for deepening the networks returns, it is clear that there is still untapped potential for the network to deliver across additional business-boosting areas. To unlock the networks true potential budget should be channeled into the right infrastructure one that modernises all aspects of network operations.

"A modern network can not only strengthen employee experiences and attract the right talent pool but it also has the potential to deliver impact across all areas of the business," says Larry Lunetta, vice president portfolio solutions marketing, HPE Aruba Networking. 

"However, to realise this broader transformation, IT leaders need to reframe network discussions and start talking in terms of business outcomes versus technical specs. 

"Only by doing this can they show the C-suite that investment correlates to positive impact and drives business value.

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