In a post-pandemic world, not only are the jobs of IT leaders more difficult than they’ve ever been, but the complexity of the issues they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis is multiplying at an unsustainable rate. It’s only logical that there’s going to be a major shakeup in how IT leaders get work done, given the current environment and how broken the system is for so many.
We recently surveyed 230 senior-level IT leaders around the globe – those who are making key IT purchasing decisions – and it was abundantly clear that they are investing further in cloud services. In fact, 98% of IT leaders said they were planning to increase their dependence and investment in cloud services. Similarly, 98% said that hybrid work has increased the need for new network and security solutions, with 97% needing hybrid work plans immediately or within the next 12 months. Legacy providers will have you believe that employees going back to the office is a major reason for their declining performance numbers. Whether or not that’s true, it points to the fact that they’re ill-prepared for the shift that has taken place in the enterprise. No matter where employees are working from, enterprises need network connectivity and cybersecurity that’s easy to consume, scalable, flexible, reliable, secure, and underpinned by excellent customer support to ensure their businesses can be successful today.
Easy-to-Use Platforms are a Top Priority of IT Leaders
Enterprise IT leaders spend most of their working hours figuring out solutions to complex problems. When it comes to networking and security, they want a solution that is easy for the IT department to deploy and manage internally so they can focus their efforts on those other challenging issues. Network downtime and cybersecurity breaches can cost enterprises thousands or even millions of dollars annually, so enterprises realize that these are elements they need to get right. At the same time, if you are a networking and security solutions provider that makes this process difficult to implement and manage, you are exacerbating the issues that IT leaders are dealing with.
Another thing to keep in mind about this is that while your current solutions may have been adequate in the past, times have changed quickly, which requires you to adapt accordingly. While IT spend is still on the rise right now, IT hiring has slowed, which means that IT professionals are being forced to do more with less. Solutions that may have been managed by multiple people in the past are now frequently being managed by a team of one, making ease of use a top priority for modern enterprises.
Furthermore, a significant finding from our report that crystalizes this point is about the explosion of Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), with 94% of respondents believing that NaaS will play a larger role in their network security plans. This indicates that IT leaders are reaching a breaking point with the growing complexity of an anytime, anywhere world, and they want services that are easy to implement and manage. And, in cases where it's available, they'd prefer to hand over the network and security keys to service providers to manage for them so they can focus on core initiatives that move their businesses forward. In fact, 96% of C-level IT leaders expect managed services and NaaS to play a bigger role in their businesses in 2023.
There are two types of customer segments: those who do it themselves (DIYers) and those who want you to do it for them (Do-It-For-Me). Increasingly, more and more enterprises need help deploying a global secured network. Many telcos and legacy providers struggle with helping customers to operationally deploy a global solution with world-class customer support.
Scalability Results in Loyalty from IT Leaders
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that change is the only thing we can rely on. As such, IT leaders want networking and security solutions that can scale as their organization grows and its needs change. A small-to-medium-sized business with aspirations of being a larger enterprise soon doesn’t want to rip and replace its technology stack every time the organization reaches a certain size. What they do want is a solutions provider that can stand side by side with them throughout their entire journey, no matter how their needs change and how large they grow. Having the ability to support enterprises of all shapes and sizes also gives you, as a solutions provider, an added incentive to help grow your customers' businesses however you can. This ultimately builds further trust and loyalty with your customers.
IT Leaders, Customers Depend on Reliability and Security
Without network reliability and enterprise-grade security, everything else is worthless. Enterprise IT leaders, above all else, need network and security solutions that work and allow them to seamlessly conduct business on a global scale. No exceptions.
In today’s always-on world, it’s nearly impossible to predict when your customers will need you most, so enterprises need network and security solutions they can trust and rely on around the clock. In the IT business, one bad experience is one too many, so it's your job as a solutions provider to constantly assess your technology and services to ensure your customers are safe. This is one time when being your own harshest critic can actually serve you well.
Emerging Expectations for Customizable Options
No two enterprises are exactly alike, so the rigid solutions providers that only offer a few basic options for customers are going to continue to fall out of favor. Back in the day, traditional telcos expected their customers to just accept whatever options they offered, and most of the time, those customers complied. There has since been a shift where the customer's voice now reigns supreme, so if they’re not receiving the solutions they need, they will speak up and take action.
Modern enterprises are complicated to manage, and, in turn, they need network and security options that can match their unique needs at any given time. Solutions providers that get complacent with their offerings because they’re successful today are ultimately doing their customers and future customers a disservice. Constant innovation is no longer optional; and it's a requirement.
Superior Customer Support is Critical for Success
Excellent customer support is central to each one of these elements. Without it, the other elements are still helpful, but you’re not maximizing the opportunities as much as you can be. On top of that, you’re making yourself replaceable when you reduce those human touchpoints with your customers. While IT leaders want their network and security to be easier to manage, they don’t want to work with solutions providers that have a “set it and forget it” mindset.
They want a partner who’s on top of things and looking after customers as if they were their own business. If problems do arise, IT leaders want to be able to connect with a real person who can help them navigate the issues they may be facing. That’s the bare minimum. Excellent customer support means the solutions provider spots a potential issue proactively, alerts their customers about it, and lets them know they’re going to take care of it before the issue negatively impacts them.
Speed is the Common Thread for IT Leaders
These emerging trends from IT leaders all point to a common theme, which is that our world and, by extension, the business world is speeding up. This is causing enterprises to move more quickly and extend themselves in new ways to meet never-ending customer demands, which is putting a huge strain on IT leaders to rise to the occasion. If these enterprises continue to accelerate at their current pace – and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t - the shortcomings of legacy providers with old-world mentalities will become more and more pronounced. Hopefully, IT leaders will start to see the writing on the wall, and they will course correct before it’s too late. The longer they wait to get their needs met, the more at risk their businesses and their jobs will be.
Renuka Nadkarni is Chief Product Officer at Aryaka.