Network Professionals Take On Increasingly Strategic Role in the Enterprise

Network World’s 2016 State of the Network Research Reveals Network Trends in the Era of Digital Innovation

Framingham, Mass. – February 2, 2016 – IDG’s Network World—the premier technology media brand providing network strategy for the connected enterprise—released the findings of the 2016 Network World State of the Network study, highlighting technology adoption trends and the evolving role of network professionals within the business (Click to Tweet). Additional study highlights include areas of investment, opportunities and challenges with emerging technologies, and business drivers.

New Tech Influences the Role of Network Professionals
Increasingly diverse demands from next generation technologies has put network professionals in the spotlight (View White Paper). Among enterprises, nearly all respondents (91%) noted the increased demands of the position, and while the role might be becoming more complex, the majority see a more integral responsibility in shaping IT strategy (71%). In fact, 65% stated that communication between the CIO and the networking management team is happening more frequently than ever before. Communication enterprise-wide is also proving to be critical to digital-enabled business innovation. Seventy-nine percent agreed that collaboration efforts between the network team and other teams within IT are successful in driving innovation. Looking beyond the walls of IT, the networking group works hand in hand with top business executives on at least a monthly basis, according to 69% of respondents and collaborates at a similar frequency with corporate operations (66%).

“The network has always been the backbone of the enterprise,” said Brian Glynn, chief revenue officer of IDG Enterprise. “We are now seeing the team behind the network taking a larger role in IT strategy and collaboration across the business, which is important as companies continue to respond to digital disruption, drive innovation around emerging tech, and digitally transform their business.”

The importance of digital business growth for organizations is shown in their investment plans. The majority (51%) of enterprise respondents indicated that their IT budget will increase over the next 12 months, with more than one-third (38%) saying it will remain the same. Speed in the era of digital business is a deciding factor and the majority of organizations cite network speed and performance (55%) as the top business driver for networking investments. This is followed by improving data security (53%) and ensuring availability (50%). These drivers correlate to the areas that respondents say will receive increased budget allocation – cloud (63%), network security (50%), and data storage (43%).

Emerging Technologies Keep Security as a Key Focus
For enterprise IT, security remains a constant focus. Both large and small organizations’ primary network challenge is around protecting against data breaches and leaks. Looking across the entire organization, the top security concern is employee awareness and cooperation followed by outside threats. With the boundaries of the enterprise network expanding due to newer technologies and applications, the networking team is becoming more involved in security initiatives than in the past, says 86% of enterprise respondents. There are a number of new security initiatives being considered, particularly around mobile and social media, along with persistent or increasing threats. Areas being most actively looked into include enterprise mobility management (57%), securing access for mobility programs (54%), ID management solutions (54%), securing access to social media (52%), data loss prevention (52%), next-generation firewalls (52%), and corporate data encryption (50%).

Tech Impacting the Network
The expansion of cloud computing brings both challenges and benefits to the networking team. Seventy percent say cloud will add complexity, while at the same time nearly the same amount (69%) stated cloud will enable the networking team to play a more strategic role. Software-defined networking (SDN) continues to rank high among organizations’ network and data center plans. Forty-eight percent of enterprise organizations are actively researching plans around SDN and nine percent are piloting SDN technology. It’s clear that they plan to be farther down the adoption curve in the future as 22% plan to be piloting the technology a year from now. This is similar to Internet of Things (IoT) efforts. Currently, 20% of enterprise organizations have efforts underway and an additional 43% plan to implement IoT efforts within the next three years.

Continue the Conversation
To take an in-depth look at the evolution of enterprise digitization and the IT stack, while engaging with IT decision-makers, thought-leaders and solution providers, attend or sponsor the IT Roadmap Conference & Expo taking place across nine cities in 2016.

To learn more about sponsoring IT Roadmap Conference & Expo contact Adam Dennison at adennison@idgenterprise.com.

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 2016 Network World State of the Network study was conducted among members of the Network World Tech Connections Panel and among visitors to NetworkWorld.com. Results are based on 301 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 (networkworld.com), events and strategic marketing solutions to meet marketers’ objectives. Network World is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s leading media, events, and research company. Company information is available at www.idgenterprise.com.

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Whitney Cwirka
Senior Marketing Specialist
IDG Enterprise
Office: 508.935.4414


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