Retail IT leaders are under constant pressure to provide innovation to their customers and end users while at the same time “keeping the lights on”. To make matters worse, the growing risk of security breaches is a constant threat.
With the growth of cloud applications, security, mobility, and the Internet of Things, these all impact your network and bring urgency to ensuring your network will support these growing areas.
Here are the top 5 trends impacting retail networks and IT organizations.
#5 Trend Impacting Retail Networks: Cloud & Hybrid Networking
In order to provide a reliable and solid customer experience, you need a WAN that will support your cloud applications 24x7x365. Cloud & Hybrid networking provide access to cloud providers, offer a hybrid WAN with a multitude of various connectivity options (broadband, ethernet, FiOS, 4G LTE, etc) to improve performance and efficiency, and reduce overall operating costs.
#4 Trend Impacting Retail Networks: Security & Compliance
Security is an ongoing threat, and your customer data is even more important. Whether you are engaging customers online and through eCommerce, or you have customers accessing applications through mobile devices, it is critical you have a secure network without reducing the customer experience. Managed firewall, PCI Compliance, threat monitoring, secure WiFi, and mobile device management are all viable solutions to meeting these threats.
#3 Trend Impacting Retail Networks: Business Continuity
When it comes to voice and data network communications, there is always a high chance of service outage. Whether it is an equipment failure, a copper issue, fiber cut, or a major carrier outage, these all impact your network and can interfere with customer wait times, transaction delays, and customer frustration. Whether you are using dual broadband - FiOS, DSL, cable, 4G LTE - any of these will provide redundancy you need to support business continuity. If your Point of Sale provides offline transactions, that helps too. Using a combo of DSL and/or 4G Wireless or Cable are great solutions.
#2 Trend Impacting Retail Networks: SD-WAN
Software Defined Networking (SD-WAN or SDN) is a hot buzzword right now. Investment and private equity firms are pumping millions of dollars into SD-WAN companies to spark innovation and growth in this sector. There are a multitude of options for SD-WAN. The benefits of this solution includes bandwidth aggregation, packet remediation, application visibility, cloud deployment, and improved network visibility and management. More importantly, it provides ease of use and fast deployment. Finally, SDWAN provides reduced risk of downtime, firewall security, PCI compliance, and lower OPEX costs by leveraging hybrid network solutions.
#1 Trend Impacting Retail Networks: Communications Managed Services
Retail IT organizations should be focused on delivering innovation to their business and improving the customer and end user experience. Although keeping the lights on is important, telecommunications (or communications with the convergence of mobility, WAN, voice, cloud, and other technologies) is a critical part of the business but tactical and time consuming to manage. Leveraging a third party to manage this type of commodity work provides more efficiency in IT and less time spent on managing multiple vendors, handling repair issues, managing hundreds or thousands of network invoices, and less time dealing with a dysfunctional industry in general. Your skilled IT staff should not be managing this area of IT.
Technology and networks are constantly changing. By leveraging industry best practices based on these trends, your network will be more efficient, higher performing, and offer less risk to your customers and business.
Ryan Carter specializes in working with thought-leading, strategically-targeted IT executives to help them achieve an increased focus on business-impacting technology, business transformation, reduced operating costs, and IT productivity. Ryan provides thought leadership and various areas of expertise for Communications Managed Services including telecommunications expense management, mobility managed services, technology road-mapping, network design, business continuity, vendor management, and user support.
For more information on driving IT performance and improving business outcomes, or if you have any comments or questions related to this post, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.