What Is a Network, Anyway?
The word network tells a story of ongoing technological revolution. In the most basic sense, it refers to any fabricated structure resembling a net. These were initially created for hunting, agriculture, fishing and the like.
With the explosion of technology at the turn of the 20th century, the word’s meaning expanded. Network was coopted to describe telephony, electrical systems, broadcasting and finally — in 1962 — systems of interconnected computers.
Networks are now both concrete and abstract. We conceive of Facebook as a social network, whereas the roots of an aspen grove make up a living network. All networks, though, are resilient, dynamic and interactive.
This evolution of the word’s uses has been spurred on by technological advancement. And today, adaptive networking ecosystems are the foundation to any organization’s digital transformation.
So, What Are Adaptive Networking Ecosystems?
In my last blog, I defined digital transformation as a movement that involves more than just digitization. Likewise, an organization’s adaptive networking ecosystem consists of the infrastructure supporting it, as well as the employees, customers and innovators connected by it.
And this is all relative. For sports teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, these ecosystems support the fans, coaches and players accessing digital playbooks and up-to-the-minute statistics. When it comes to global distribution organizations like the Sazerac Company, adaptive networks provide bandwidth flexibility as employees’ workloads shift throughout the day.
When we use network to describe a group of interconnected organizations — as with retail chains, financial services institutions, healthcare systems, etc. — it becomes clear why adaptive networking solutions are crucial to success.
Across these systems and through a variety of digital touchpoints, businesses are now expected to employ an always-evolving operating model. As our priorities continue to change, customer experience and employee engagement have become more valuable than an organization’s core products.
Examples abound. Zappos revolutionized the retail landscape by offering free shipping and a 365-day return policy. Virtual doctor visits now save time for patients and doctors. And did you know that payment organizations are supplanting plastic cards with digital currency?
Without the IT leaders who transformed their legacy enterprise networks into comprehensive “networking” environments, these advancements wouldn’t have been possible. Adaptive networks include evolving architectures and the dynamic processes occurring across them. Together, these help organizations expand into untapped markets, defend against unforeseen competitive threats and implement yet-to-be-invented technologies.
Just as the early adopters of telegraphy couldn’t have predicted its eventual sophistication, we don’t yet know what our organizations’ adaptive networks will be used to accomplish.
Digital Transformation: Is the End in Sight?
Embracing digital transformation is about designing infrastructure, systems and processes so that they can easily change. It’s about capitalizing on opportunities and minimizing setbacks. It’s about enabling your network to work smarter, not harder.
But how do today’s enterprises get there?
In What Digital Transformation Really Means, Galen Gruman writes, “There’s no silver bullet to becoming digitally transformed — by definition, it’s an ongoing process — but you can take advantage of certain tactics.”
Which brings me back to the word network. Originally coined as a noun, it is now also a verb. And just as its meaning organically evolved, I’m asking you to let the structure of your business adapt. The rigidity of your silos flex. The divisions between your customers and employees dissolve.
The passive, stagnant network is a thing of the past. With an agile networking ecosystem, the work of digital transformation — something that is always in the process of being — is finally possible. It all starts with the right combination of services and an openness to change.
We find inspiration in the shifting way IT leaders are thinking about enterprise connectivity, and seek to provide visibility into how customers can use our services throughout their journey. To help your digital transformation, Level 3 offers a suite of Adaptive Networking Solutions:
- Hybrid Connectivity: Prepare for what’s next with networking services that can react on a moment’s notice and stay flexible as you move into the future.
- Customized Cloud Ecosystems: Leverage both choice and control by selecting the cloud connectivity — public, private or a combination — that’s right for your business.
- Network-Based Security: Benefit from comprehensive visibility and advanced threat intelligence by tying your security approach to your overall networking strategy.
- Real-Time Communications: Combine an optimal communications network with the applications that help you get the most out of it.
The bottom line is that we’re all connected. Customers, employees, partners, suppliers and more. By working together to reimagine what’s possible, digital transformation will be the new norm.
 “Network, n.” Oxford English Dictionary