How Wireless Networking Enables Enterprise Digital Transformation: Evaluating Network Maturity Against Industry Benchmarks


Digital transformation has never been more important for enterprises around the globe. Over the past decade, cloud and mobile computing have emerged as the primary platforms powering the modern digital world. The network is a critically important technology for enabling digital transformation. The network connects users, devices, and things to the applications and services that enterprises rely on. IDC forecasts that by 2025, there will be 14 billion non-Internet of Things (IoT) devices globally and another 41 billion connected IoT devices. For businesses to digitally transform to take advantage of these trends, enterprises must have a reliable and robust network.

Wireless networking is one of the most important technologies enabling digital transformation. To quantifiably measure the importance of wireless networking, IDC created a Wireless Maturity Index. Top-level findings from the report include:

• Enterprise networks, and wireless networking specifically, are key enablers of digital transformation.

• Organizations with higher levels of digital transformation maturity gain increased value from the network, especially the wireless technology they deploy.

• IDC recommends that enterprises evaluate how mature their wireless network is, compared to the IDC Maturity Index benchmarks, and identify areas of targeted investments to increase their enterprise network maturity.

The IDC Wireless Maturity Index surveyed 504 global enterprises in November 2020 and created a grading scale across 10 categories of wireless maturity, to determine the most important use cases and features for wireless networks. The IDC Wireless Maturity Index also analyzed results by specific vertical industries, including manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, financial, retail, education, government, and large venues. The Index found that 62% of organizations are "somewhat" satisfied with their current Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), indicating significant room for improvement.

There are certain steps that organizations can take to increase the maturity of their networks. Some key steps include:

• Evaluate how mature your wireless network is compared to the IDC Maturity Index benchmarks and identify areas of targeted investments to increase the maturity of your enterprise network.

• Consider a wireless-first network where users/clients primarily connect via wireless methods to enable seamless and ubiquitous mobility and save on the cost and complexity of wired installations.

• Explore how Wi-Fi 6 can benefit your environment, especially as the number of users, devices, and high-bandwidth applications on the network continues to increase.

• Use a cloud-based management platform, particularly for distributed sites or to gain access to the latest features.

• Prepare for IoT use cases and applications, particularly as organizations look to have more integrated management of Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT).

• Use Machine Learning (ML)/Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enhanced management to realize advanced levels of network automation and service assurance.

Enterprises are in the midst of significant digital transformation to support digital business operations. The network is a critical enabling technology for supporting digital transformation efforts. But to take full advantage of the digital era, enterprises must transform their networks. IDC's Wireless Maturity Index is a guide for enterprises on how to benchmark their wireless network maturity with peers and identify key investment priorities. To see the full findings and recommendations, as well as to see the industry-specific results, access the full report, Enterprise Network Maturity: Wireless Networking's Key Role in Digital Transformation (IDC Report Number US47545421).

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