The digital economy is here, and the ability to innovatively meet ever evolving customer expectations has become the new reality.\u00a0 For most organizations accomplishing this goal starts with digital transformation.\nIn order to realize digital transformation benefits, companies need to move beyond a legacy network and invest in next generation components, according to participants in a recent IDG TechTalk Twitter chat.\nUnfortunately, past investments in legacy technology are still serving as a significant road block.\n\nA1) Issues such as technical debt, legacy security problems, poor\/inconsistent Ops & maintenance, and a long list of infrastructure\/bandwidth inadequacies can hold back #DigitalTransformation. #IdgTechTalk\n\u2014 Will Kelly (@willkelly) June 6, 2019\n\nIn #retail and #manufucaturing, specifically, seeing poor networking infrastructures slowing the pace of change in #salesenablement tech and beyond. #idgtechtalk\n\u2014 John Moore \ud83e\udd35 #SalesEnablement #SalesCoaching (@John___Moore) June 6, 2019\n\nLegacy anything will hold you back - and the hard part is calculating the friction, speed bumps, diversions, and dependencies. #IDGTECHtalk\n\u2014 Isaac Sacolick (@nyike) June 6, 2019\nOf course, continued inaction only puts organizations in a position of trying to play catch-up while still using outdated technology.\n\nA1) This is a similar problem to using an outdated piece of software, you're working in an space that isn't optimized to modern standards. It's both a management and tech issue, if management hasn't been keeping relevant and modern it can be a huge task to catch up #IDGTechTalk\n\u2014 Zero Projects (@ZeroProjectsCA) June 6, 2019\nUnfortunately, the demands will only intensify as customer expectations evolve.\n\nA1: IoT and growing complexity of the network, especially as we operate in more than one location, requires a new approach. Plus, we are also looking at threats that easily penetrate legacy network infrastructure - IT needs to adapt. #IDGTechtalk\n\u2014 Mindsight (@GoMindsight) June 6, 2019\nThe inability of that legacy networking technology to keep up will surely push organizations further along the path. \nSimply put, businesses can only survive so long without effectively addressing customer expectations. And in a digital world, meeting these expectations means having the technology in place to deliver.\n\nA3 Delays in deployment and lack of responsiveness to change in demands. Every lost day of deployment must be counted as lost opportunity. #IDGTechtalk\n\u2014 Mark Thiele (@mthiele10) June 6, 2019\n\nIf your organization needs it today, you're already late to the party. If you're pretty sure your org will need it "soon" you might want to start investing in the people, process, technology, and culture changes as the market segment settles down a bit. #IdgTechTalk\n\u2014 Chris (@CPetersen_CS) June 6, 2019\nWhen moving away from legacy networks, a move to a software defined wide-area-network (SD-WAN) is the logical next step. \u00a0\nEvery business today understands the importance of data security. This comes through in the results of the 2019 State of the CIO with 64% of IT leaders saying security strategy is tightly integrated as part of the overall IT roadmap, and 82% expecting the same three years from now.\nSD-WAN fits the bill. Specifically, when compared to previous networking technologies, 57% of QuickPulse survey respondents noted significant improvement in data security and 47% cited significant improvement in network management.\nAnd according Quick Pulse survey results, security (52%), intelligent WAN selection (44%) and privacy (42%) are the most valuable features of SD-WAN.\n\nAbsolutely. When you upgrade infrastructure, it most often comes with reliability, performance, and security improvements. #IDGTECHtalk https:\/\/t.co\/ML4RokwgWm\n\u2014 Isaac Sacolick (@nyike) June 6, 2019\nThe ongoing multi-cloud movement is also intensifying the drive to embrace SD-WAN.\nThe growing dependence on cloud apps has been pivotal as IT leaders continue to focus on empowering lines of business with access to create and utilize the innovative offerings fueling the new digital economy. In fact, cloud has been crucial in fueling the evolving CIO role, which according to the 2019 State of the CIO, points to driving business innovation as the primary responsibility over the next three years.\nHowever, the reliance on cloud access\/utilization has also put a heavy strain on existing network infrastructures \u2013 often shining a bright light on any weaknesses. And, with multi-cloud becoming the new reality, network expectations are understandably intensifying. Unfortunately, with 69% of enterprises expected to implement some kind of multi-cloud environment by 2019, the best time to invest in underlying yet necessary technology is rapidly diminishing.\n\nAgreed, #SDWAN also helps bring together costly #MPLS alongside 5G and every other broadband WAN into a Hybrid WAN that saves $$ and ensures failsafe connectivity for the multicloud enterprise #IDGTechtalk https:\/\/t.co\/BxG6WuT3OH\n\u2014 Adam Stein (@apstein2) June 6, 2019\n\nYes. But also greater ecosystem participation between companies and the slow progression towards cloud native apps. #idgtechtalk\n\u2014 Mark Thiele (@mthiele10) June 6, 2019\n\nA2: I tend to think more in terms of the necessary alignment req.' with multicloud and not being tied to a single provider.This, in addition to the (promised) agility, increased visibility into, and simplification in overall network topology #IDGTECHtalk\n\u2014 Peter Salvitti (@psalvitti) June 6, 2019\nSo, how do you get started with SD-WAN Implementation?\nIDGTechTalk participants agree the best plan of attack starts with gaining a complete understanding of your current network stats. Usage, capacity and trends as well as noting areas where your existing technology has struggled or hampered the organization\u2019s ability to achieve performance expectations.\n\nA4) Know all the numbers around your current network: usage, capacity, costs, demand, and other actionable data to start a biz case. #IdgTechTalk\n\u2014 Will Kelly (@willkelly) June 6, 2019\n\nA4) Monitor usage, measure capacity trends, forecast stepwise demand triggers (ie, global, #iot, virtual desktops), understand security gaps, constantly research options #sdwan #IDGTECHtalk\n\u2014 Isaac Sacolick (@nyike) June 6, 2019\nAfter all, knowing your where you stand establishes the base line needed when develop a clear implementation plan.\n\nA4) The first step should always be "have a detailed plan of action". Failing that the first step should be making the plan! Poor implementation will lead to worse problems than you started with, and leave you with that bad taste mentioned by @techtalksio earlier. #IDGTechTalk\n\u2014 Zero Projects (@ZeroProjectsCA) June 6, 2019\nAnd, hopefully that plan gels with your organization\u2019s digital strategy, which for most organizations focuses on effectively delivering an improved customer experience.\n\nA4: As always start with the business case. How does it fit into your digital strategy. You DO have a digital strategy, right? (91% say yes \u2014 they have adopted, or have plans to adopt, a \u201cdigital-first\u201d business strategy, according to IDG)#IDGtechtalk\n\u2014 Jim Malone (@JimMaloneIDG) June 6, 2019\nObviously, having a strategic plan that outlines the implementation path serves as a solid foundation. However, because the network is often in the background, the need also exists to build the business case primarily around the touch points that resonate most with today\u2019s leadership: performance enhancements needed to innovate, cost savings as well as improvements in data security.\n\nA2) I see the promise of #SDWAN definitely aligns with the digital ready network and #DigitalTransformation. It\u2019s getting past the initial biz case and investment that seems to be the challenge for many #IdgTechTalk\n\u2014 Will Kelly (@willkelly) June 6, 2019\n\nExactly... Much harder to get funding for the plumbing when it isn't seen and is just expected to work. #IDGTECHtalk https:\/\/t.co\/c5NeIgeEyO\n\u2014 Isaac Sacolick (@nyike) June 6, 2019\nBeing able to also stress the costs of inaction can help as well, especially as customer expectations within the digital economy continue adding pressure to organizational infrastructure.\n\nAlso, create an alternative story for how traditional strategies would have impacted deployment and on going use. #idgtechtalk\n\u2014 Mark Thiele (@mthiele10) June 6, 2019\n\nAmen to that. Sadly, "sunk cost" isn't entirely a logical fallacy when WAN optimization gear, switches, etc. can run in the 6-figures or higher at each end of each circuit. :-( The best time to think strategically was yesterday. ;-) #IdgTechTalk\n\u2014 Chris (@CPetersen_CS) June 6, 2019\nBeyond building the business case, be sure to involve stakeholders in the process. Knowledge and understand have true power, especially when influencing leadership to invest in technology necessary for digital transformation.\n\nI've found that professional business leaders rarely have to say no when everyone involved in the challenge\/opportunity has the knowledge and experience to effectively and efficiently address them.\n\u2014 Frank Gilbert (@PFGilbert) June 6, 2019\nFortunately, survey results show that two thirds of respondents have been able to implement SD-WAN within 6 months. Twenty-four percent completed with process within 9 months. Furthermore, 82% of respondents said that the time to implement exceeded their expectations.\nOkay. But after implementation, does the SD-WAN actually deliver on its promises?\nIn their words, successful SD-WAN implementations can prove transformational:\n\n\u201cI see #SDWAN as a powerful transformation tool for multisite #cloud first organizations by offering better management, security, costing and governance tools.\u201d @Willkelly\n\u201cOptimizing four call centers in two countries. Unfortunately, #SDWAN wasn\u2019t mature at the time I was working on it, but today it would have been a slam dunk investment.\u201d @nyike\n\u201cCannot overlook transformative security benefits of SD-WAN. Example: @zkerravala wrote: One of the low-hanging use cases of an SD-WAN is to use it to extend microsegmentation to the WAN\u201d @JimMaloneIDG\n\u201cIn a general sense, SD-anything is about building the technical flexibility\/agility required for change at the speed of business. In an #ITSM sense it may also drive risk out of the change and allow streamlining of once-risky changes into \u2018standard\u2019 fast tracks\u201d @CPeterson_CS\n\nThat\u2019s a wrap. Over to you.\nWhere are you on the digital transformation curve? Has your organization invested in the technology it needs to thrive or is legacy equipment still serving as albatross? And what are your plans and strategies to either get moving or stay ahead?\nLet us know in the comment section below. And as always, please join us every Thursday at 12pm ET for the #IDGTECHtalk.\nMeanwhile, for more information on developing the underlying flexible network necessary to support digital transformation efforts, visit Comcast Business.