If you've ever done a tricky do it yourself project at home, there's eventually going to come the urge to just chuck it all out and start it from scratch. However, when it comes to a corporate network, it's much harder to explain why large parts of the current infrastructure has to be upended to make room for the new and improved. Companies must know what to listen for, how to analyze and interpret the data, and how to respond. What's more, they must then be able to act quickly on the information. In general, effective digital strategies are less about acquiring and implementing the right technology than about reconfiguring your business to take advantage of the information these technologies give you access to.
The objectives of a company's digital strategy also differ depending on digital maturity. Regardless of maturity level, most companies want to use digital technologies to improve customer relationships. Organizational culture is also critical to effectively leveraging digital technologies in the workplace.
As a result, most companies are investing in the development and training of digitally savvy talent. As technology improves, so do the users, but their skills and abilities that aren't purely technical. One of the most important abilities necessary is knowing the business well, conceptualizing how new digital technologies can impact current business processes.
As companies continue to advance, a shift in corporate mindset must occur to successfully compete. Consider the following:
- Do you have a digital strategy for the future that considers the full organization?
- Is your company culture allowing your digital initiatives to succeed?
- Does your organization have the talent and skills that you need? Are your employees being given the right skills to succeed in a digital environment?
- What do employees need to succeed? How might your company's existing digital infrastructure be impeding your employees' ability to succeed in a changing competitive environment?
When looking to make the upgrades and you've considered what you need, start small and build outwards.
- Stick to modular equipment, centralized management. To avoid rip-out upgrades later, consider buying a centralized wireless LAN (WLAN) switch that will let you upgrade access points easily.
- Make way for 10G and avoid bottlenecks. 10G is the automatic choice today in data centers. Current wiring closet switches have one or more uploads to the corporate network and nearly every new PC has 1G bit Ethernet adaptability. 10G prevents the bottlenecks and congestion of multiple data packets. It's best to consider upgrading your network to the higher bandwidth as soon as possible.
- Buy flexibility with Power over Ethernet. For added and future deployments of VoIP handsets, wireless access points and security cameras, Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology gives generous flexibility with regard to where the devices can live. In a few years, you'll see even more devices taking advantage of PoE, such as laptop computers. Luckily, it's not hard to keep this option open because PoE doesn't mandate any change to Ethernet cabling. At a basic level, all you need is standard Category 5e wiring.
As you consider your company's digital strategy, keep in mind that the road map you develop will shift as technology advances and your competitors make their own digital strategies. While it may be very difficult to predict future technologies, business success will depend less on the technologies themselves and more on your company's ability to implement them innovatively.