A new Datamonitor survey into strategic enterprise networking opportunities has revealed that immediate opportunities exist for vendors in the security, local area networks (LAN) and perhaps rather surprisingly, the wireless LAN (wLAN) sectors. However, new projects are likely to be more highly scrutinized than ever before as most organizations expect to see a return on investment within just 18 months of a project implementation.
To sort through conflicting messages in the enterprise-networking arena, Datamonitor conducted a survey of 200 major enterprises across Europe. Results from the study Strategic enterprise networking opportunities, reveal immediate opportunities exist for vendors in the security, local area networks (LAN) and perhaps rather surprisingly, the wireless LAN (wLAN) sectors. However, with 77% of respondents citing that they expect to see a return on investment (ROI) within just 18 months of a project implementation, the report says that any new project will be more highly scrutinized than ever before.
Two-thirds of respondents would only consider investing in an IT solution that offers a clear ROI
European companies want solutions that can offer rapid return on investment and tangible business benefits. Almost two-thirds of respondents state they would only consider investing in an IT solution that offers a clear ROI, with 45% of these interviewees strongly agreeing that this criteria would need to be met. Furthermore, the vast majority (77 per cent) of respondents expect to see a ROI within 18 months of a project’s implementation.
With almost two-thirds of European enterprises now insisting that ROI is demonstrated prior to commencement of any new IT project, vendors must ensure that such demands are met. The days of implementing new, expensive solutions to solve each networking problem have come to an end – at least until the global economy shows some signs of recovery. It will therefore be extremely important for vendors to provide potential customers with a clear idea of how their solutions will provide tangible business benefit, says Adrian Drozd, enterprise-networking analyst at Datamonitor.
74% of European enterprises expect to invest further in their eSecurity systems
Overall, 74% of the European enterprises surveyed expect to invest further in their eSecurity systems in the near future. European companies perceive the possibility of internal damage as their most feared result of an IT security breach, with loss of data seen as the most damaging consequence and damage to systems and resultant reduction in productivity also rated highly. The recognition that a security breach could have severe effects on both a company’s internal systems and reputation will result in continued investment in this area.
LAN investment remains key
The local area networks remain a key investment priority for European companies, with 29% of respondents citing this as their key area of focus over the next few months. IT security and disaster recovery systems are also seen to be high priority areas, with the events of September 11th having reinforced the need for investment in the latter area in particular. In addition, the much-publicized spate of security breaches over the past 12 months, which include Code Red and Nimda, have forced many companies to re-evaluate their security strategies and to re-direct funds to this mission-critical area. (Fig 1, a graphic illustrating key areas of IT investment for European businesses over the next two years follows below. If you are unable to read/view it, please contact the press office)
Wireless LAN technology is gaining a foothold, despite the challenging nature of the global economy
Despite only being pushed wholeheartedly to end-users for the past couple of years, wireless LAN (wLAN) equipment is already beginning to make its mark on the enterprise arena. 20% of interviewees claim to have already deployed some form of wLAN system, with a further 18% either testing or evaluating the technology. 40% of Scandinavian companies – well renowned for being early implementers of new technologies – have already implemented a wireless LAN solution.
European enterprises see the ability to provide employees with flexible hot desking facilities as the most compelling benefit of wLAN, with over 60% of interviewees feeling that this is a very useful characteristic of the technology. In addition to allowing IT users to access corporate LANs from numerous locations within an enterprise, wLAN hot spots can be deployed in areas such as meeting rooms and reception areas to allow visiting colleagues/partners to have access to the Internet and network assets.
The perceived simplicity of wLAN with regard to installation and usability is also viewed as a significant benefit, with almost half of respondents considering this to be a very useful attribute of the technology. Wireless LAN solutions can be used to augment existing LAN infrastructure without the need for extensive recabling and associated disruption, making it an attractive proposition for companies of all sizes. (Fig 2, a graph illustrating the perceived benefits of wireless LAN follows below. If you are unable to read/view it, please contact the press office)
However, despite this solid foundation, perceived flaws of the technology is preventing more widespread uptake. At a pan-European level, security is seen as the single biggest flaw of wLAN, with 56% of respondents citing this as a major concern. Security remains the Achilles heel for many network managers considering the adoption of wLAN. Reports of ‘drive-by hacking’ and more recently ‘war chalking’ – where holes in an enterprise’s wLAN security is highlighted by hackers by way of markings on the pavement outside premises – are seriously damaging the credibility of wLANs, and are acting to restrict uptake.
Adrian Drozd concludes:
Despite limited IT budget availability, wireless LANs are steadily gaining acceptance among European enterprises. While the penetration of this technology is not yet particularly high, companies are beginning to understand the considerable advantages that it can provide. In many cases, wLAN is currently being evaluated by European companies to enable them to understand exactly what business benefits the technology can offer. However, the security flaws associated with wLAN is still proving to be a hindrance to uptake – vendors need to work more closely with security specialists in order to alleviate these concerns.