Today, data is at the center of nearly every human interaction and organizations manage greater amounts of data than ever before. In addition, the speed at which we operate our business has increased causing pressure to move that data at increasingly higher speeds. As such, organizations are re-evaluating their technology and looking for alternatives that will enhance flexibility and increase productivity in order to remain competitive. Networks are the backbone of this digital transformation.
Historically, the network was seen as a legacy goods service driven by carriers. But over the past five years, the introduction of service provider-led software-defined networking has led to a major shift — changing the concept of the network from rigid and inflexible to transformative and strategic. The advent of next-generation technologies such as private wireless networks, edge computing, and cloud networks in 2023 will allow more companies to update their network strategy and quickly develop networks to meet changing business needs. Here are three network transformation trends to watch:
#1: Private 5G wireless networks will overtake Industry 4.0 with retail as the next big frontier.
As organizations implement more Internet of Things (IoT) applications and bots in their environment, there is an increasing need for these devices to operate on a resilient and secure network. A private wireless network is the best network option for providing low-speed, high-capacity, high-speed connectivity.
In the manufacturing, petrochemical, gas and energy sectors – where traditional Wi-Fi networks lack frequency, power and range – such as many companies Dow Chemicals Private Wireless has already been successfully deployed to increase business efficiency and save costs. These privately owned and controlled networks can provide much wider coverage and reliable connectivity in remote areas, helping to improve workplace safety and network efficiency by allowing employees to perform visual inspections and record data on the spot.
Other industries will soon follow the group’s retail lead. Across the retail industry, private wireless networks and the underlying edge will be key to unlocking the next generation of customer experience by enabling faster data collection. Edge computing will enable brands to implement asset tracking and supply chain optimization through technology such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). More stores will be able to set up non-disclosure payments, such as mobile self-checkouts with ApplePay and GooglePay — a feature for both understaffed retailers and customers who prefer contactless payments. Faster data collection also enables real-time analytics which will allow retailers to drive more personalized promotions. Not only will this increase sales, but it will also increase revenue per square foot. Smart in-store technology enabled by the cloud, such as smart mirrors, will also grow in popularity in 2023 as metaverse experiences continue to creep into our daily lives.
Number 2: Traditionally slower technology adopters will become early adopters of private networks.
From manufacturing to retail, the use cases of early innovations for private wireless networks are emerging, including connected cameras, IoT sensors, bots and real-time analytics—all of which increase productivity and worker safety and reduce business costs and carbon footprint.
Other industries eligible to adopt private and edge 5G wireless networks include transportation, logistics, industrial, and healthcare. These segments will benefit from the higher reliability and better security offered by private wireless networks compared to traditional Wi-Fi networks.
In industrial environments, for example, traditional wireless solutions are difficult to deploy and can lead to black spots if the signal is too weak or unstable to maintain a connection. Because black spots are caused by interference, physical obstructions, and distance, private grids will be particularly useful in highly reflective industrial environments or locations that would be difficult to access using traditional grids.
In healthcare, private wireless networks can enable physicians to pull patients’ medical images and test results in real time, meet HIPAA compliance requirements and better manage patient data. Private networks allow organizations to implement more robust security measures, such as SIM-based authentication methods and strong air interface encryption, to protect their critical data. Proprietary wireless solutions also enable security roles to be assigned by devices, making it easier for organizations to control their systems, stay secure, and prevent hacking attempts from malicious actors.
To facilitate widespread and seamless adoption across industries, organizations must first understand the spectrum frequencies they will use and ensure they are compatible with the technologies they need to deploy. For best results, they should work with a partner who can help secure the appropriate spectrum based on region and integrate it with the local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and public cloud for data transmission and analysis.
#3: We will see explosive growth in cloud networks.
With the past decade determined to migrate to the cloud, most organizations have already shifted their business and workloads to the cloud. Across industries, we’re seeing the emergence of Network as a Service (NaaS) as companies look to eliminate network hardware and improve performance.
Thanks to the advent of hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft, there has been an influx of companies building virtual network infrastructure and delivering it as a service to enterprises. This helps companies manage workloads more efficiently, integrate additional cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and easily scale or scale their resources according to demand. However, a lot of these companies lack a solid direct-to-enterprise channel. This is where cloud networking comes in as an important way to see how and where applications are deployed. In a multi-cloud environment, cloud networking provides organizations with comprehensive access to the cloud to enable connectivity anytime, anywhere, for any reason—while remaining vendor neutral.
Over the next year, there will be increasing demand to integrate connectivity with managed services so organizations can manage multi-cloud networks and improve performance while maintaining a strong focus on security.
Getting Started: Co-creating the projects of tomorrow
Advanced technologies such as private wireless networks, edge computing, and cloud networks are the building blocks for long-term investment in digital transformation. Because networks are constantly evolving, companies must adapt and transform to remain cost competitive or risk being left behind.
To succeed in digital transformation, leaders also need to invest in their people and teams and create a culture focused on meeting the unique needs of their customers.
The payoff for those who take the time to make the right investments will be enormous. Early adopters of these emerging technologies stand to unleash network growth and keep ahead of the competition.