Businesses depend on a solid network infrastructure. Every department within an organization relies on that infrastructure. A mismanaged network impacts almost everything from customer communication, data storage and retrieval and data analysis to collaboration and network security. Ultimately, data could be lost, productivity could lag, orders could stall and customer satisfaction could wane - all hurting the business’ bottom line. As a TBI partner, in order to deliver on network solutions and truly be an integral part to your customers’ network strategies, insert yourself in business conversations. Help lead network strategy and planning by asking the right questions and sharing historical network planning wins. When the customer has come to you for a quote, it’s already too late.
Lead network strategy and planning with these tips.
To establish an ideal relationship where you are influential in network and hardware planning, make suggestions and formulate questions to draw considerations for an IT department.
Provide the CIO with a Question Sheet to assess existing infrastructure. Create an audit worksheet for IT departments to fill out based on existing hardware/software usage and have them submit to you and the CIO for planning discussions. With technology advances, cloud applications and network traffic, end-users need a consultant with insight into their business, someone who understands mission-critical applications, organizational dependencies and operations to recommend scalable, reliable and flexible solutions.
Regardless of industry, when auditing and planning for a telecommunications network always consider bandwidth, connectivity and security.
Audit and understand the investment in bandwidth.
- What sort of provisions are established with bandwidth, priorities?
- Define critical applications.
- What do future state needs look like? Are you preparing for growth, scalability?
- How is data being protected?
- What does current backup look like? Do you have redundancy in place, backup services, etc.?
- Are you looking into backup bandwidth? More than likely it’s regulatory compliant and therefore telecommunication infrastructure built around backup should have same compliance.
Audit and understand the voice environment and architecture.
- What is the volume of inbound/outbound calls?
- Where is the most traffic coming from, old voice lines not being used?
- What is the phone system backup and disaster recovery plan?
- How often are you adding/subtracting lines?
- What is the allocation of lines that should always remain open?
Audit and understand the internal/external collaboration tools and applications are being used.
- What does the mobile environment look like within your facility/venue/space?
- Consider bandwidth, speed and connections.
- Determine sensitivity of the information and private connections.
- What about security considerations and mobile device management software?
- What are Wi-Fi considerations and security- firewalls and encryption, access and authentication?
Specific to various verticals, the following observations and trends are happening now. Understand where each marketplace is headed and prepare conversations to better respond to real-time needs and future wants.
Hotels and entertainment venues need solutions that provide access to applications and enable employees and guests alike to connect with each other within the four walls of the space and across the world. The race is on for venues to provide more perks for customers with increasingly more sophisticated expectations. The new norm includes SMS deals and mobile food ordering, free Wi-Fi almost everywhere, lots of bandwidth to account for photo/video uploads and venues consistently encouraging guests to post and share. It’s table stakes for phone and Internet to work, winners come out ahead when customers enjoy a fast connection even during peak traffic times.
- Are you planning for retrofitting or is this a new building/venue?
- How does the venue plan to accommodate traffic? Are there peak times, seasons?
- What are the Ethernet needs (Internet vs. private fiber connections)?
With multiple cloud applications and devices, hospitality traffic requires increased performance from WAN and Internet connections.
- Understand the initiatives being planned to entice and enable millennials along with traditional business travelers (social sharing, ordering, deals, etc.).
When dealing with banks, asset managers, credit card companies, brokers and other financial institutions consider the amount of personally identifying data that is being transferred, stored, analyzed and backed up. Financial institution networks require regulatory compliance, end-to-end security, reliable performance, 24/7 access and the need to monitor and manage change in real-time without re-cabling.
Overall the financial industry has been considered laggards in the sense that they are prudent when making decisions regarding cloud applications and services. Often they opt for hybrid strategies, either owning their own data center equipment or colocation to ensure security. Newer or smaller institutions have the same regulatory and compliance requirements but may want to avoid a lot of capital upfront and will look to managed or cloud solutions.
- What equipment does this institution currently own/utilize?
- Who is managing the existing network and infrastructure?
- How many branches or locations does this customer manage?
- In what countries are these locations?
- Is real-time monitoring required?
- What type of control is needed over connectivity, priorities, administration, etc.?
This year IDC Health Insights reported that IT budgets for healthcare provider organizations are growing. Both payer and provider organizations are looking for solutions to improve analytic systems and care management while managing massive amounts of patient data and EHRs (electronic health records). Investments in cloud implementation are increasing as more solutions alleviate compliance and security concerns.
The influx of electronic patient data, the proliferation of IoT, wearable health technology, BYOD in the workplace and increased Wi-Fi network needs have fueled the demand for expanding bandwidth and greater network scrutiny. More information is primed to be compromised, as evident by high-profile cases of security security breaches in the last few years.
- How many office locations are there? How many remote employees?
- Are you upgrading existing buildings or planning for new facilities?
- Are there locations in rural regions (where alternatives to broadband exist)?
- How many devices are used or provided through the organization?
- What are the existing IT resources, staffing and tools?
- How is data viewed, stored and assessed via M2M and through various devices?
- What are bandwidth needs? Are there current bottlenecks?
- What is their storage and backup/recovery plan?
- Are there any visible vulnerabilities and/or opportunities for improvements?
Similar to financial services, many of the organizations that fit within this category (consultancies, law and accounting firms, advertising agency or any other professional services) require similar solutions to securely handle large amounts of personal/customer data. However, the organizations that fall under this category would be considered early adopters when it comes to technology as they are leading and advising others on social, mobile, cloud, big data, artificial intelligence and in general, emerging technologies. Their understanding of next-generation technology has allowed them to identify areas of improvement and offer automation recommendations, cost saving strategies and workforce improvements. In order to advise on trends, they must adopt and understand network virtualization, hybrid IT, cloud migration, mobile work forces and whatever comes next.
- Understand the firm’s ecosystem. What technology do they use and what partnerships do they have in place (hardware/software) to recommend to clients?
- What does the company’s network, infrastructure and security look like?
- What do typical jobs look like with clients?
Understand the organization’s process for assessing clients’ network infrastructure.
- What is their existing connectivity to support clients’ data replication, disaster recovery and other IT initiatives? What is their data transfer setup and data centers?
- What does their Internet access look like? What are their bandwidth needs?
- Do they have any clients with web-based services?
Like all other industries, organizations within the industrial marketplace deal with lots of data. Oftentimes it’s less about personal customer information being protected as it is about other companies’ secure data. Typically, we’re dealing with B2B transactions and the data being transferred, stored and analyzed; information can relate to product SKUs, annual product demand and CRM profiles for customers, retailers, warehouses, distribution centers, facilities and suppliers. Data could also include transportation and freight information, shipping sizes and cost. Call center technology solutions play a part in increasing customer service goals.
- Where are operations/facilities or distribution centers located?
- Concerning voice and data networking infrastructure, what connections are outdated and need upgrading?
- How do they audit their carrier bills and how many do they have?
- What technologies are being used and what systems are in place to manage applications and login remotely?
For more information on the financial and healthcare markets, join us for TBI’s BIG event on May 11 and 12th. We’re giving partners more of what they’ve asked for, exclusive industry insight and one-on-one time with vertical specialists. Learn how to start conversations, generate interest and grow revenue by concentrating on the right technologies.
About the Author
As Director of Marketing at TBI, Cohen is responsible for managing TBI’s marketing communications and implementing multi-channel branding and press strategies. In addition to driving TBI’s overall marketing strategy, Cohen directs both internal and external communications to ensure the delivery of valued products and programs to providers and partners alike. You can contact Corey at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.