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How a WAN can enable commercial strategy execution
Fri, 25th May 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

For busy senior executives, getting commercial strategy execution right is no trivial matter. Preparation requires focus and tenacity as executives must continuously monitor and evaluate business portfolios, growth opportunities, competitors, people, resources and risks.

The good news is that a company's wide area network (WAN) is a 'strategy-enabler' of sorts.

When assessing capabilities to execute strategy, including the capacity to scale the operation and resources to drive the business in a timely fashion, consider the WAN – it can play an invaluable role.

The power of harnessing research and experience, corporate strategy tenets and industry headlines, serves to underpin strategy execution to grow enterprise revenue, acquire net/new customers and retain/expand business with existing customers.

All of this while continuously monitoring the competitive set and realising greater operational leverage and efficiency. With this as a backdrop, ask: why should we be concerned about our WAN? We have bright people taking care of all our IT. Or, we have decided to run with IT-as-a-Service and it's all outsourced, so what's the point?

The point is that execution of commercial strategy depends, at least partially, on the WAN. Why? How? Simply put, the WAN governs the way a business connects its people to workloads, applications and resources, ultimately enabling the timely decision-making required to drive execution.

Consequently, we should have a vested interest in making sure that our WAN is every bit as agile and flexible as any other resource required to execute our strategies. And since WANs are becoming more closely aligned with business strategy and objectives, there's never been a better time to re-evaluate the WAN.

Role of SD-WAN

Generally speaking, most business strategies entail continuously adopting leaner workflows, transitioning to smarter applications (increasingly SaaS-based), utilising always-on collaboration tools and connecting seamlessly with colleagues, clients, customers, partners etc.

The bigger picture? If a part of a strategy includes the acquisition of (companies) points-of-presence across local, regional, national or even international markets, then the speed at which these operations can be up and running will directly correlate to success.

The faster a business can connect newly acquired staff to critical workloads/applications and to one another, and the faster these acquisitions can be aligned seamlessly with a parent company and standard operating procedures, the faster a business will capitalise on opportunities to fuel growth.

Or, if acquisitions are operating in a particularly forward-thinking way, then the faster it can transition workflows without stalling operations and the better the outcomes will be.

The fine print? The job of connecting users to applications makes a WAN critically important to near and long-term success. So consider whether the WAN is every bit as agile and flexible as it needs to be.

If it isn't, then how assertive should management be in making sure that it is? Equally importantly – how can they make sure it will continue to be so, even when subjected to all the usual machinations that strategy execution entails?

What if IT could centrally orchestrate and manage the WAN in accordance with the company's business intent? Well, it's possible - an application-driven WAN architecture can apply business intent across a WAN to deliver agility and flexibility.

What value would management attribute to being able to specify the level of agility and flexibility, when connecting people to workflows, applications, networks and locations? If you this can be done in alignment with business intent, would it make strategy execution more efficient and effective?

With an advanced software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution, this is the reality today and, fortunately, management do not need to be technologists or have IT staff at every location to align their WAN to business intent.

While discussing service levels can become a highly technical and complicated matter, an SD-WAN solution offers the ability to centrally orchestrate and manage the WAN in accordance with business intent, using an intuitive approach that enables business connectivity requirements and technology capabilities to converge. This also assures consistency, enabling management to assure compliance across the organisation.

Consider this: management can articulate the productivity levels they need from their various teams, and an SD-WAN provider can translate that into how the company's connectivity is orchestrated, automated and managed.

Finally, when assessing strategy execution readiness, there is a compelling argument to make an equally rigorous assessment of the existing WAN