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Is Your 5-Year-Old Wireless Network Outdated?

In a study examining how circumstances influence our perception of time, scientists confirmed what many suspected: when a stressful situation is looming, time seems to slow down. Think car accident, termination notice, etc.

That phenomenon might help explain why some decision-makers look at an organization’s wireless network and deem it sufficient. Facing the complexities, and cost, of a wireless network overhaul slows time to a crawl for them.

This would not pose an existential problem were it not for one big issue: There’s a good chance that your competitors are zipping by en route to a future that prizes leading-edge technology as a critical point of differentiation.

If you’re facing a budgetary roadblock in your attempts to pick up that same speed and direction, guiding key decision makers through the following points might help you get on your way sooner.

IT refresh cycles have accelerated

In the early 2000s, three to five years represented a more-or-less traditional IT refresh cycle — with one exception. Those closest to the IT function of their respective companies sought to refresh equipment at the lower end of that range, or even less time, if it benefited critical areas such as security.

The intervening years have only sped up the need for effective wireless network security. A report from IT firm Kentik confirmed security is a top concern among IT pros, with 33% of respondents circling data breaches as their biggest network worry.

The study also highlighted companies’ concerns about keeping pace with customer expectations, finding that 29% of respondents concerned about that. That’s understandable, given the increasing amount of business that organizations conduct online; there’s no way to argue that outages don’t directly (and negatively) impact the customer experience.

A separate Forrester report came to the same basic conclusion: demands overwhelm wireless networks and companies are investing in upgrades now.

Dimension Data research suggests those concerns are resulting in real change: 58% of network devices they surveyed were current, which marked an 11% improvement over their previous survey. It’s the only way those numbers could go. With concerns so high about security and customer experience, the time to address aging hardware is before a catastrophic event occurs, not after it has already happened.

An important reminder: It isn’t only outdated networking equipment that can cause problems. So can devices such as users’ smartphones. Check out some suggestions here on how you can reduce those risks.

Damages from breaches outweigh IT costs

Hesitation from business leaders is understandable. IT costs can run quite high compared to the rest of the organization’s annual budget. For example, the total cost of supporting a single PC can run much higher than the price of the PC alone. Multiply that single PC by 80 or even 800 and you’re looking at serious money even before factoring in other IT-related expenses.
But there’s no viable alternative to that budgetary impact. The Ponemon Institute’s look at the cost of a data breach in 2018 found:
  • The average cost of a data breach was $148 per compromised record
  • Organizations required an average of 196 days to detect a breach
  • Total cost and average breach size increased year over year
The average cost of a data breach is over $3 million globally. All the more reason why the time to address aging hardware is before a catastrophic event occurs, not after.
It’s not as if organizations moving to faster refresh cycles are jumping the gun. Estimates suggest that three-quarters of all organizations will consider networking core to their digital success within five years. That’s up from around one-quarter today.

Examining the need for a wireless network update

Given the size of the undertaking and everything riding on its successful execution, it’s easy to see why some decision-makers are stuck in slow motion as various wireless networking issues — refresh cycle changes, 5G, sweeping industry impact — play out.

To help visualize the issues an organization must address at the outset of an IT project — in our scenario, a wireless network hardware refresh — Gartner developed a decision tree that presents as straightforward an approach to strategic IT spending as possible.

Copyright: Gartner

There’s another potential way to approach the relevancy of a quick wireless network refresh. That’s by making a careful progression through a questionnaire designed to help identify the organization’s current and anticipated future vision.

Circle the bullet for each statement that applies to your organization:

  • The organization anticipates employee, square footage, and/or locations growth.
  • Organization leaders expect an increase in the demands of mission-critical applications, such as voice and/or video.
  • Organization expectations are that network downtime will inflict a known (identified and quantified) negative result upon finances and customer relations.
  • IT leaders are aware of attempts to infiltrate the organization’s network (though such efforts have been unsuccessful to date).
  • Pundits expect the Internet of Things (IoT) to change your organization’s industry. (Such industries include agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, transportation, financial services, energy, and hospitality.)
  • Control over network access, including employees accessing it with their own devices, needs to be stronger.
  • The organization has fallen behind the parameters laid out in its documented refresh cycle.

If you applied:

  • No checkmarks: You may be okay for the time being, but be careful not to lower your guard.
  • One check mark: Any one of those scenarios represents a reason strong enough to begin looking at refreshing your network.
  • More than one check mark: Your network requires immediate actions related to its performance and protective.

Responses to the decision tree and questionnaire might help put everyone on the same page and ignite the actions necessary to ensure your network is where it needs to be — now and for a bright future.

CTC Technologies and outdated wireless networks

Change isn’t always good. Sometimes change is equal parts aggravation and frustration with a little bit of confusion tossed into the mix for good measure. But it’s the order of the day thanks to evolving ideas about what makes an office design “good:” for owners, for employees, for productivity, and for the future.

If it’s high time for a network refresh, CTC Technologies can help you deploy it swiftly, effectively, and with the professionalism your IT team deserves. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’re ready to provide your organization with such a secure and powerful network that time will fly, rather than stand still.