Evolving Technologies Transform Network Role

Network World’s 2017 State of the Network Research Explores Network Involvement as New Tech Investments Grow

Framingham, Mass. – January 30, 2017Network World —the premier technology media brand providing network strategy for the connected enterprise — releases the results of the 2017 State of the Network study, showcasing the technology adoption trends among IT and network professionals, and how these tech changes are fueling the transformation of the network professionals’ role. The research also highlights trends in areas such as network security, software-defined networking (SDN), and the Internet of Things (IoT); along with the challenges and drivers associated with adopting these solutions. (Click to tweet)

Network IT Investments Supporting Digital Disruption
With the surge of technology and the need for organization’s to stay tech savvy, roles are constantly evolving at organizations. Network professionals are benefiting from this shift, as 78% agree that the network team is becoming more important to IT’s mission, and 70% say that it is becoming more involved in shaping IT strategy. This increased involvement translates into increased IT budget and investment plans.

Close to half (47%) of network/IT professionals expect their IT budget to increase over the next year, responding to a need for improved network performance, data security and consistent availability. Associated with these investment drivers, the technologies that will see significant budget growth include cloud services (overwhelmingly, with 69% saying their cloud budget will increase), network security, application development, and data management/analytics. The adoption of these technologies will help organizations address challenges that both professionals and the network system face – data breach protection, ensuring availability and business continuity.

“The network is the platform supporting most all business pursuits today, and the wealth of technologies available – from cloud to software defined data centers and mobile everything – give organizations incredible opportunities to pursue truly disruptive digital transformations,” said John Dix, editor-in-chief, Network World. “It’s the network team’s responsibility to ensure successful evaluation and implementation of tools and this study shines a light on what these professionals are doing.”

Collaboration and Responsibilities that Drive Network Growth
When it comes to the IT purchase process, State of the Network respondents highlighted their overall involvement – from the technology areas they are involved in to the stages of the purchase process they provide insight. These individuals are responsible for an average of six different technology areas, such as network/systems management, network security, IT operations, internet and computing hardware. They are also highly involved in determining tech requirements and the business need.

This significant involvement does bring some stress to the role – 87% of respondents say their role is becoming more challenging. However, network professionals know that their participation is important and necessary – 68% of respondents at enterprise organizations (1,000+ employees) report that the network team is communicating with the CIO more than ever. Collaboration does not stop there, as 71% of network professionals say their team meets at least monthly with top business executives. When it comes to daily/weekly collaboration, the network team spends the most time with IT operations (76%), followed by systems administration (74%) and IT security (71%).

“Every year we see the network becoming more and more central to the enterprise, and this year’s research continues to prove this point,” said Brian Glynn, chief revenue officer of IDG Enterprise. “IT teams and business executives value network professional’s knowledge around emerging technologies and security strategies as they aim to grow business during this time of digital disruption.”

Balancing Business Requirements & Emerging Technologies
In times when security breaches are frequent and business continuity may be in jeopardy, organizations look to implement a wide range of security technologies. In 2017 budget allocations will support this need – 55% of respondents expect more money for addressing network security and another 38% say their budget will remain the same.

This translates into research and investment. The top security solutions on respondents’ radar or being actively researched include network security (17%), endpoint security (18%) and data loss prevention tools (35%). Software-defined networking continues to be a top of mind technology as well – 50% of enterprises are actively researching the technology and 17% hope to have this solution installed within the next 12 months. Network professionals also shared insights into the implementation of SD-WAN. While perhaps still in early stages of adoption (36% have SDN-WAN on their radar or are actively researching it, and another 13% are piloting it, or have it installed/in production), 54% say they view increased resiliency and agility from software control as potential future benefits.

To ensure business speed and continuity, organizations are implementing 802.11ac gigabit Wi-Fi. A quarter of network/IT professionals have already adopted, and another 24% are either in the process of adopting or have a 12-month plan to install. The Internet of Things (IoT) also appears as a high momentum technology as 40% of enterprise organizations report they have plans to implement IoT efforts within the next three years. Converged and hyper converged systems will bring infrastructure change to the network as well – 76% of enterprise organizations have plans to implement converged and 72% hyper converged infrastructure.

As organizations strive to be more efficient and poised for growth, it is clear that the network, and network professionals, will play a pivotal role. Understanding and addressing drivers and challenges, as they adopt new technologies, will be essential to their success.

Continue the Conversation
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About State of the Network
The Network World State of the Network study is conducted annually to pinpoint where IT executives and professionals are with initiatives within existing and emerging technologies that impact the network. The 2017 Network World State of the Network study was conducted among members of the online among Network World’s LinkedIn Forum and among visitors to Results are based on 295 respondents who indicated they have primary responsibility within a technology category.

 About Network World
Network World is the premier provider of information, intelligence, and insight for network and IT decision-makers responsible for the digital nervous system of the connected enterprise: the network. With an editorial focus on delivering news, opinion and analytical tools for key decision-makers who architect, deploy and manage business solutions, Network World offers a unique and powerful combination of audiences and resources across digital (, events and strategic marketing solutions to meet marketers’ objectives. Network World is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of IDG. Company information is available at

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About IDG
IDG connects the world of tech buyers with insights, intent and engagement. IDG is the world’s largest media, data and marketing services company that activates and engages the most influential technology buyers. Our premium brands, including CIO®, Computerworld®, PCWorld® and Macworld®, engage the most powerful audience of technology buyers providing essential guidance on the evolving technology landscape. Our global data intelligence platform activates purchasing intent, powering our clients’ success. IDG Marketing Services creates custom content with marketing impact across video, mobile, social and digital. We execute complex campaigns that fulfill marketers’ global ambitions seamlessly with consistency that delivers results and wins awards. IDG is the #1 tech media company in the world, per comScore.*

*Source: comScore Media Metrix, Desktop Unique Visitors, Worldwide, February 2016


Stacey Raap
Marketing and Research Specialist
IDG Enterprise
Office: 508.935.4008


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