Numerous times a week, I have the great fortune to talk to IT leaders. Today, we talk tactically about the challenges of the current global situation, but when I ask them how they describe and measure the network’s value now versus 6 months ago, 9 times out of 10 it comes down to operational efficiency. According to IDG’s 2020 State of the CIO report, CIO’s top objectives, right after increasing operational efficiency (37%) include:

  • Improving customer experience (35%)
  • Increasing cybersecurity protections (33%)
  • Transforming business processes (30%)
  • Improving profitability (24%)
  • Improving employee productivity (21%)

With networks being foundational to the CIO’s ability to support business goals, why have networking objectives and metrics traditionally been almost exclusively focused on lowering operational expenses? Isn’t it time to look to an extended set of business enabling goals? We asked IDC to look at what these new network objectives are and how some organizations with more advanced networks are achieving and quantifying these objectives.

IDC identified an expanded set of KPIs complementing traditional ones aligned to IT efficiency, reducing risk and enabling business:

Source: IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Cisco, The Quantifiable Business Value of Advanced Networking, February 2020


So, what are three of the key findings of IDC’s research?

1. Advanced Networks are a Top-Line Focus

Organizations are realizing quantifiable business value from advanced, intent-based networks, far greater than the traditional operational benefits IT typically relies on to justify network investments. The digital era is creating a whole new set of challenges for IT which revolve around experience for the customer, employee and business. Thinking about it, the relationship between the network and the business, lives and dies on the experience.

For the participants in this study, IDC reported that transitioning to advanced networks resulted in those organizations achieving greater business value:

  • An additional $308 million per year in revenue generated
  • Total value of $204,600 per 100 users per year
  • 10% average higher gross revenue by organization
  • 21% higher productivity for developers

The problem is that most IT organizations are missing the opportunity by not quantifying these benefits as part of the potential or realized value resulting from a more advanced network.

2. Agility is King in the Digital Era

Pushing out policies globally in minutes versus days or weeks adds tremendous value to an organization’s ability to keep up with the demands of the business.  Whether the business is looking to move into new markets, develop new customer apps, open new branch locations, integrate new acquisitions, take advantage of location-based analytics—whatever the business needs—an agile IT shop with a flexible network architecture means the difference in winning and losing.

3. Taking a Multidomain Approach is a Must

This is one of the biggest changes from a strategic network planning perspective. Intent-based networking capabilities allow policies and visibility across SD-Access, SD-WAN, Data Center, and IoT.  This requires new ways of thinking about the network as well as potentially adding new roles.  I heard recently from a customer that they are creating a Multidomain Architect role to help lead their transition. It’s clear from this study that the network can no longer be the bottleneck. It must be the enabler across all domains.

There’s really never been a more exciting time to be in networking!  More than ever before, the network is the backbone of your company—taking the business where you want to go.  And remember to communicate the business value you’re bringing day in and day out.

Get the study:
The Quantifiable Business Value of Advanced Networking



Gordon Thomson

Vice President

Global Enterprise Networking Sales