Your digital transformation to-do list for 2019

$3.85 trillion. That’s how much businesses worldwide are expected to spend on IT in 2019, according to Gartner. And that’s about 3% higher than in 2018, when IT spending was projected to increase at its highest rate in more than a decade.

Digital transformation can indeed be an expensive undertaking — and an impactful one, provided the IT investments are well placed. Here are three areas to focus your 2019 IT investments for maximum impact and ROI:

1. A software-defined network

International Data Corporation projects that worldwide revenues for software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) infrastructure and services will grow at a compound annual rate of 70% through at least 2021. And for good reason. Not only is SD-WAN more flexible and scalable than traditional wide-area alternatives, it also may cost significantly less to operate.

Deployable as either a strictly software-based solution or as a hardware/software hybrid with WAN edge devices, SD-WAN offers a clear pathway to a virtually always-on, cloud-driven network operating model. As such, more enterprises see it as the answer to growing bandwidth demand and network budgets constraints, as well as a platform for incorporating new user-focused intelligent services that harness the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence. So if it isn’t already, SD-WAN deserves to be near the top of your network to-do list for 2019.

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2. A powerfully simple centralised portal

This offers visibility into, and control over, all your digital and network assets. It’s much easier to coordinate a digital transformation effort across an enterprise when your network and the data and services that are attached to it can be managed through a unified web portal. Such a portal serves as a single pane of glass through which an IT department can see and manage their network and the functionalities attached to it, including reporting, analytics, configuration and performance tools, as well as UCaaS (unified communications as a service) and CCaaS (call centre-as-a-service) solutions, and do so anytime, from anywhere, with any device.

Ultimately that portal becomes a dashboard for driving digital transformation. Internal IT teams shouldn’t be burdened with tying all these elements together, either — a portal like this should be part of the package of services you get from your network provider.

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3. Security

Protecting the sanctity of customer data, as well as your own network assets and information, is as vital to growth as digital transformation itself. With an expanding digital footprint, increased network traffic and a greater volume of data come new vulnerabilities — DDoS attacks, ransomware incursions, uninvited data exfiltration, etc. The best way to protect against threats to your digital assets, your customers and your brand is by baking multiple levels of digital security into your network infrastructure. That means embracing a “zero trust” security philosophy, where you verify anything and everything attempting to access your network systems, and leaning on tools like multi-factor authentication, firewalls on-premise and in the cloud, and end-to-end encryption.

Security/privacy is among the three highest-priority areas for business IT spending in 2018-2019, according to Computer Economics. The others? Cloud applications and cloud infrastructure. If those aren’t among your top digital priorities for 2019 already, they probably should be.

Written by Layne Levine, president of the Enterprise and Wholesale business unit at Windstream
Written by Layne Levine, president of the Enterprise and Wholesale business unit at Windstream

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