1. Whether your users are happy (without having to talk to them)\nIt\u2019s not always cool to admit, but the ultimate goal of every networker is to have happy users. Like many other thankless jobs, we only hear about problems. When we do, we react. But that isn\u2019t ideal. What we really want is to know about problems as they are developing, before users complain. They don't even have to know. \u00a0But we do.\nA Network Management System (NMS) has been the traditional go-to solution to sniff out these sorts of problems. But most were designed for just one view of a certain part of the network using antiquated technology that doesn't provide any sort of predictive problem solving based on what the user is actually experiencing. It's like trying to figure out San Francisco traffic based on the status of the traffic signals. Just because the signals are working properly doesn\u2019t mean the drivers (users) are having a good experience.\nModern analytics systems focus on actual user experience by looking at, you guessed it, user experience. \u00a0Just like Google Maps or Waze, these systems look at user experience and, if there is a problem, proactively notify you so you can swing into action. And even better than San Francisco traffic, these systems will even tell you how to fix the problem.\n2. Not all your WiFi access point radios are working, no matter what your NMS says\nAll enterprise class WiFi systems have a built in NMS with varying functionality. The most basic feature is the typical red\/amber\/green access point status. What may surprise you is that a green status doesn\u2019t actually mean the AP radios are allowing connections and transferring data.\nIt's not uncommon to find dozens of radios in a large network that are unresponsive. When a radio is down, especially a 5 GHz radio, that manifests as poor performance and coverage gaps that can take a number of helpdesk calls to discover.\nOn the other hand, it\u2019s quite typical for a fully functioning AP to go unused for hours, days or even weeks, depending on the network. So how can a solution tell the difference between an AP that isn\u2019t responding and an AP that just isn\u2019t busy? That\u2019s where analytics comes in: establishing and recognizing patterns of usage and reporting when that pattern is out of whack. And to further complicate matters, the patterns can\u2019t be based on the behavior of a single AP. The entire network must be baselined and constantly analyzed to detect these anomalies.\u00a0\n3. ARP is failing you more than you would think\nThe Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is one of those protocols that no one ever really thinks about because it\u2019s just supposed to work. Well, in most networks it works without any issues at all. \u00a0In others, it can be a big problem. For large enterprise networks ARP can be a cancer that causes slowed response times and unpredictable behavior.\nUnless you are specifically looking for an ARP problem (and who has time to do that?) these issues go largely undetected. But a full-stack analytics system (yes, there is a theme here) can detect issues like this and even pinpoint where in the network they are occurring.\n4. What system (Wi-Fi, applications, DNS, DHCP, cloud, etc.) is to blame for your current network problem\nIt may feel a bit childish, but we've all had to point fingers when network or user problems occur. Wi-Fi has always bared the brunt of the blame when something isn\u2019t easily explainable. But that blame is largely unsubstantiated; it just feels good to blame the system that is complicated and is barely in touch with its own feelings.\nThe best way to place the blame is to have an unprejudiced system objectively analyze information from all aspects of the network and make deductions based on real information.\n5. How your network performance ranks among organizations like yours\nIt\u2019s natural to want to know how we stack up against others, whether it\u2019s our girlfriend\u2019s ex-boyfriend(s) or who has the best man cave (I win, sorry). As a network engineer we also want to believe that our network is best, and we have the happiest users. But until now, that hasn\u2019t been readily quantifiable. This is changing, fast, as analytics and cloud computing converge to make it possible to compare virtually any part of your network with another enterprise that looks virtually identical.\nBesides stroking (or hurting) your ego, that information has huge value. If you see that, among networks like yours, that your Wi-Fi performance is in the top 10%, you know you don\u2019t need to dedicate a lot of resources into making it better. But if you see that your Office 365 application performance is in the bottom 20% you\u2019ll want to make that better. And a great analytics platform can even tell you why you are in the bottom 20%. And, what would be really cool is if you could click on the top company in Office 365 performance and ask them why they are so good?\nThat sounds like real social networking to me. But actually useful social networking.