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C-Suite Network Connections: The Enterprise Network and the Chief Executive Officer


By: Lars Koelendorf, EMEA Vice President, Solutions & Enablement at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

As a CEO, it’s impossible to be involved in every single business decision, which is why you are supported by a strong C-suite, with each member responsible for ensuring that their area of the business runs smoothly.

So does that mean that you can be a CEO without having a relationship with IT and the network?

The short answer is no. Not given the pace of digitization, when technology now powers and enables so much of your business.

The long answer is that when it comes to the network, CEOs all have varying degrees of understanding and input. But the stronger the relationship between the CEO and the network, the bigger the impact on IT, the business functions it supports, and the business at large.

To prove this, I’ve identified three key points of interest.

Investing in the network means investing in all business units and goals

Is there any department that wouldn’t benefit from the ability to work better, faster, easier, smarter, cheaper and more secure? Or any strategic priority that wouldn’t be advanced?

The pandemic has already demonstrated why digital transformation is now fundamental to business survival. Having the latest technologies means you could help client- and customer-facing departments to provide higher quality and more competitive products and services, and to keep up with evolving demands. It means empowering back-end functions to provide better support to the rest of the business. And it means that employees – regardless of which department they belong to or where they choose to work – can have the best experience possible, without any technical roadblocks and complications to stop them from delivering their best work. Indeed, many employees actually experienced very good connectivity while working from home during the pandemic – and now demand that same easy and seamless experience coming back into the workplace.

You could also automate your systems, which would not only streamline operations, eliminate human error and overcome human limitations, but free up your employees to focus on projects that drive real value.

Speaking of real value, with the right technology, you could also finally be able to derive actionable insights from the deluge of data that your company has been accumulating.

Enterprise data has the potential to deliver significant cost savings, improve operational efficiency and even unlock new business opportunities and revenue streams. But first, it needs to be stored, secured, sorted and analyzed – all of which a great enterprise network can help with.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the network can do. To unlock its full potential, CEOs need to work closely with their CIOs and other department heads to understand the exact impact that the network could have on every area of their business.

The network is key to all your sustainability goals

Sustainability isn’t just a strategic priority. For most companies around the world, sustainability has become the priority, given that it’s being driven both from the top down (by company boards and investors, and governments) and from the bottom up (by employees and the general public).

You could even say that the network and sustainability have something in common: they both have an impact on all areas of the business.

Which, in fact, means that the network can have an impact on all areas of sustainability!

The network plays an integral role in allowing companies to become more sustainable, to measure and prove their sustainability, and to build more sustainable products and services. And for this reason alone, investing in the right network infrastructure should be the top of any modern CEO’s agenda.

It’s not just about keeping up, but staying ahead

Given the rate of change and disruption, any CEO simply using the network to keep operations moving and up with the latest technology has already lost the game.

It used to be that if the network were down, your employees could do other manual work while waiting for a fix. Today, however, if there are issues with the network everything stops. In that sense it has become fundamental to keeping businesses running. 

But the network has so much more potential than this – to help the business continually stay ahead of and be differentiated from the competition.

This is predominantly because investing in an agile network creates the foundation for every area of the business to innovate, from IT teams themselves to the company’s R&D department.

With an agile network, the infrastructure is always ready to integrate, support, secure and fund any new technological developments that might help the business to move the needle on its goals.

Today, things move quickly. It’s up to the CEO to ensure that their business can move just as fast.

Creating strong C-suite connections

What I hope that this article has shown is that the network can no longer be the sole responsibility of any single executive or department.

And while this particular article has focused on the relationship between the CEO and the network, the real relationship is of course between the CEO and the rest of the C-suite, particularly the CIO.

So for CEOs, my advice is simple.

Focus on how you can empower your CIO to be an advocate for the network in your business, and support all your C-suite members to work together towards building a network that helps them achieve both their individual departmental and collective organizational goals.

After all, the business drives the network. But it is the C-suite that drives the business, and the CEO that leads the C-suite.

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