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January 29, 2024
Today's businesses are facing a myriad of challenges, from economic uncertainty to staffing shortages and a slowly recovering supply chain. To combat these issues, many organizations have adopted more technology, such as project planning applications and AI tools, in a bid to make their existing workforce more efficient.
Unfortunately, all too often these investments fall flat. This can happen for several reasons, but one of the most common issues is that organizations don't have the underlying infrastructure necessary to support new bandwidth-heavy AI tools and workforce applications. This is where channel partners can play a pivotal role in their customers' success — by ensuring they have the underlying infrastructure in place to support new technologies, partners can ensure better outcomes for their customers and guide them toward solutions that are more strategic for their organization.
As a result, networking solutions not only help overcome staffing shortages but also future-proof the enterprise for tomorrow's challenges. Serving as trusted guides and expert advisors, channel partners should consider the following factors when recommending solutions for clients that are looking to modernize their overall business practices.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly pervasive across industries, enabling organizations to analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns that inform decision-making. Moreover, machine learning (ML) and AI can increasingly automate previously manual tasks and reduce the risk of human error. While businesses clamor to optimize applications for these novel tools, it's important that channel partners explain the need for a solid network foundation to support them.
When implementing an AI solution, strong network connectivity and reliable Wi-Fi are essential. AI applications can be bandwidth-hungry behemoths, but with new generations of Wi-Fi, such as Wi-Fi 6E, organizations can increase their network bandwidth and ensure their employees can fully realize the benefits of AI. A robust network allows the enterprise to deploy these new technologies seamlessly while providing dedicated connections for mission-critical applications and devices.
Cybersecurity is a critical concern for organizations, as cyberattacks are only becoming more common and can potentially compromise sensitive data and disrupt business continuity. Comprehensive cybersecurity practices that include applications, infrastructure and training are important, but patchwork cybersecurity solutions alone aren't enough to protect against threats.
Organizations need to take a holistic approach to cybersecurity, and that includes taking steps to secure and monitor the network. With network management tools in place that can establish a baseline of typical activity and monitor for any potential anomalies or issues, IT is empowered to detect and respond to potential threats more quickly, before they impact users. Additionally, solutions such as network fabric can help reduce the risk of a lateral attack by enabling organizations to segment network traffic and isolate sensitive data away from things like guest network access. Prudent channel partners should also guide customers toward solutions that demonstrate a commitment to security on the part of the vendor, including those with ISO certifications.
Whether in manufacturing, education, finance or any other industry, technology can increase operational efficiencies and enable organizations to determine optimal team headcounts. By considering both IT investments and human resource allocations holistically, organizations can improve productivity, streamline workflows and ensure staff resources are available for high-value priorities.
Beyond network investments to ensure new technology can work seamlessly, channel partners should also consider recommending services that will boost customer success past the initial deployment. For example, with customers that have limited or inexperienced IT staff, it may be beneficial to recommend managed services, which would help the organization reduce IT costs while increasing efficiency, reducing risk and simplifying operations.
Workforce optimization tools such as AI applications may be all the rage these days, but they're not a panacea. Like other supplemental solutions, they require a high-performance, reliable network. Investing in best-in-class network infrastructure and solutions will help enterprises reduce costs and improve scalability, so that companies can continue to thrive even as they navigate challenges like talent shortages and increasing security concerns. With the right infrastructure in place and knowledgeable partners to support them, today's organizations can embrace new innovations and maximize the returns on technology investments.
VP, Global Partner Programs and Channel Marketing, Extreme Networks
Kilynn Sommer is VP of global partner programs and channel marketing at Extreme Networks with a track record of building growth programs and driving organizational effectiveness. She has led channel and marketing initiatives in multiple sectors, including health care, hospitality and nonprofit organizations. Sommer earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas and a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations from Baylor University.
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