Addition by Simplification: Three value-added network services that can make all the difference for an enterprise, its employees and its customers

By Cardi Prinzi, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer - Enterprise and Wholesale at Wind stream Enterprise

Cardi Prinzi, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer - Enterprise and Wholesale at Wind stream Enterprise

Too much time spent troubleshooting and too little on strategic initiatives. That’s a significant problem for 43% of network professionals, a recent survey commissioned by LiveAction and conducted by Sirkin Research discovered.

"With a more accessible and in many ways more user-focused network architecture, enterprises also can deliver the type of enhanced digital experience their customers have come to expect, such as by providing reliable WiFi service to customers across multiple stores"

“This problem appears to be caused in large part by the massive complexities found in today’s multi-fabric, multi-vendor and multi-cloud network environments,” LiveAction concludes, “as well as a generally inadequate level of network visibility, management, and control provided by most network performance management and diagnostics (NPMD) solutions on the market.”

Value-added services can remove many of those complexities, simplifying life for enterprise network management teams while also helping them to deliver a more robust network experience to users — employees and customers. Here’s a look at several such services that are making a true difference to a wide range of businesses:

SD-WAN. Enterprises of all shapes and sizes are migrating their networks to a software-defined wide-area model for the flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness it provides. As thousands of organizations are discovering, SD-WAN can be a powerful productivity enhancer, enabling enterprises to better support employees across multiple offices with always-on, highly responsive mobile services, tools and capabilities for a better digital workplace experience. Within the IT department, a managed SD-WAN service can relieve them of mundane, time-intensive monitoring and troubleshooting tasks. On the cost side, the flexible connectivity that SD-WAN provides enables an enterprise to achieve the highest bandwidth for the lowest possible cost, with the ability to work over the top of a third-party MPLS network.

With a more accessible and in many ways more user-focused network architecture, enterprises also can deliver the type of enhanced digital experience their customers have come to expect, such as by providing reliable WiFi service to customers across multiple stores.

UCaaS (unified communications as a service). Because your employees and your customers inhabit an omnichannel world, so must your business. UCaaS enables a business to deliver a more robust digital experience to both. On the employee side, UCaaS supports remote officing setups and flexible working arrangements by providing seamless workplace collaboration and communications experiences, whether an employee is in the field, working from home or floating among different workspaces within a single office or among multiple offices. By providing employees with always-on connectivity wherever they happen to be working and whatever device they happen to be using, with access to the various audio, video, chat and SMS tools and business apps they need to go about their work, UCaaS becomes an indispensable productivity booster while also putting employees who frequently work remotely or from the field on equal footing with colleagues at the home office.

A UCaaS solution also leads to better customer experiences, providing a framework within which customers can move among devices and channels seamlessly, during the same conversation and journey, with a contextual awareness that keeps them from having to retrace their steps. Ultimately, your customers are empowered to choose the time and place for their interactions with your business. 

A unified portal to view, interact with and manage their network and the various services and assets attached to it. Such a portal can help enterprises to maximize the power of solutions like SD-WAN and UCaaS, giving them a single, simple-to-navigate and secure environment through which to access, analyze and manage workloads, functionalities, data resources and apps. With customized dashboards and self-service controls guided by AI/bot technology, such a portal gives network managers real-time visibility into key network usage data and advanced analytics, enabling them to identify and act upon changing conditions and trends across the network, with the ability to track individual users and to monitor conditions at specific locations.

The platform ultimately functions as a value-added service for enterprises to shape and enrich the multi-channel experiences that are so important to engaging employees and customers alike.

Case study: Three Value-Added Services in Action

Liberty Steel & Wire, a century-old Midwest-based firm, was experiencing 10 to 15 network outages per year, each averaging more than three hours of downtime. These circuit failures threatened the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and production processes, preventing it from taking orders, shipping products and answering the phones. Employee productivity and customer satisfaction both suffered as a result.

The solution for Liberty Steel was to simplify the network by turning to a managed SD-WAN service, whereby a network provider now continuously and proactively monitors and optimizes the network for peak performance in an active/active configuration. If a primary circuit fails, the secondary circuit automatically takes over to prevent an outage. SD-WAN also facilitated implementation of UCaaS, enabling Liberty to move its existing on-premise telephone system to the cloud, providing it with greater functionality without the capital expenditure. What’s more, with a unified portal to monitor and manage the network and the communications tools attached to it, the company now can track app performance and create and modify business policies to achieve its business objectives.

“Effectively I have had zero sites down for unplanned outages in the past calendar year,” reports Matt Bradley, the company’s IT director. “As a result, my team and I are able to focus on more value-added opportunities like process and technology improvements.”

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