Analyzing Four Hyped Network Technologies in 2023

In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, as we approach the end of 2023, the race for innovation continues unabated. Digital platforms and tech giants are showcasing new possibilities, but amidst the excitement, discernment is essential. With the constant pressure to adopt cutting-edge technologies, the challenge lies in separating genuine value from mere hype. Enterprise technologists, often caught in the crossfire between executives’ enthusiasm and practical network and IT operations, face the daunting task of steering their organizations in the right technological direction.

The Hype Conundrum: Addressing Executive Hype

The conundrum of executive hype in the technology sphere is a pervasive issue. Enterprise technologists frequently encounter challenges when it comes to sustaining network and IT operations due to entrenched views held by company executives. Meetings convened in boardrooms to deliberate over seemingly extravagant technological concepts have become a recurrent theme in today’s corporate landscape. A notable account comes from a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who lamented, “Every story that comes out gets me a meeting in the boardroom to debunk a silly idea.” This scenario isn’t isolated but rather a shared experience among tech professionals.

Navigating the Balancing Act: A Strategic Approach

In the face of such enthusiasm and executive-driven hype, tech experts have devised strategies to effectively address these situations. The first pivotal step is to refrain from outright dismissal, as technologists concur that this approach rarely yields productive results. Instead, a more strategic and pragmatic approach is advocated. This involves acknowledging the potential of the proposed technology while candidly highlighting the near-term challenges it presents. Technologists recommend responses that maintain an open avenue for discussion and exploration.

For instance, tech experts often respond with phrases such as, “I acknowledge there’s real potential there, but I think there are some immediate issues that need to be resolved before we could commit to it.” Another common response is, “I’ve already initiated a comprehensive study of that, and I will provide a detailed report when it’s complete.” These responses serve the purpose of tempering executive enthusiasm while allowing time for a more thorough examination of the proposed technology.

Understanding the Dynamics of Hype

Hype waves, akin to the ebb and flow of tides, tend to be transient in nature. They capture the attention and interest of management for a period, only to wane as newer trends and ideas emerge. Thus, a strategic response from technologists seeks to navigate these waves, recognizing that management’s focus is liable to shift elsewhere as newer concepts emerge on the technological horizon. This approach not only fosters a more collaborative environment but also ensures that decisions regarding the adoption of emerging technologies are well-considered and aligned with the organization’s long-term goals.

While specific figures and statistics are challenging to provide due to the qualitative nature of this issue, the prevalence of these challenges is well-documented in the experiences of enterprise technologists across industries. Numerous instances of executive hype leading to boardroom discussions have been reported, underlining the need for a balanced and strategic approach to address these situations effectively.

The Hyped Technologies and Strategies: Navigating the Tech Landscape

While specific figures and statistics are challenging to provide due to the qualitative nature of this issue, the prevalence of these challenges is well-documented in the experiences of enterprise technologists across industries. Numerous instances of executive hype leading to boardroom discussions have been reported, underlining the need for a balanced and strategic approach to address these situations effectively.

1. AI-Driven Network Automation: Tackling the Top Hype

At the forefront of contemporary technology hypes is AI-driven network automation. A staggering three-quarters of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have fielded inquiries regarding the potential of AI in network management. In response, technologists advocate an approach termed “AI incrementalism.” When presenting this concept to senior management, a strategic presentation often revolves around four key points:

AI Evolution and Its Challenges: AI is undeniably progressing at a rapid pace, with continuous advancements. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that this progress isn’t without its share of documented mistakes and challenges that require thoughtful consideration.

Dilemma of AI Control: In the scenario where AI assumes control of network operations and inadvertently makes errors, it could pose significant difficulties for network staff in terms of error identification and rectification.

The Role of AI in an Advisory Capacity: To address the aforementioned challenges, adopting a cautious approach involves deploying AI in an advisory capacity within a restricted network segment. This strategic move aims to reduce potential risks associated with full AI control.

Project for Evaluating AI’s Value: To ascertain the true value of AI, initiating a project becomes imperative. This project should involve a comprehensive evaluation of AI’s performance by comparing it with non-AI solutions in different network segments. Additionally, it’s crucial to develop recommended procedures and maintain a journal of AI actions. These measures are essential for ensuring swift recovery and remediation in case of potential AI-related mistakes.

2. Private 5G: Balancing Connectivity Options

Private 5G technology emerges as the second most prevalent hype. Approximately two-thirds of technologists have encountered inquiries about its adoption, with suggestions even to replace WiFi in some instances. The strategic response here emphasizes the robust support provided by WiFi for most devices, positioning 5G as a supplementary connection option where WiFi coverage is inadequate. This approach is most applicable to specific verticals such as public utilities, transportation, government, and innovative IoT applications. The recommended course of action is to conduct a comprehensive facility audit to identify sites suitable for private 5G deployment and assess the available deployment options.

3. Open Networking: Addressing Cost-Cutting Hype

“Open” networking holds the third spot in the hierarchy of tech hypes. The concept that utilizing white-box devices and open-source software can drastically reduce costs is undeniably attractive. Nearly half of CIOs have found themselves justifying their reluctance to transition to open technology. The challenge lies in transitioning from a proprietary network infrastructure to an open one. A pragmatic approach begins with an audit of the expected useful life of specific network segments. Focus should be directed towards areas where all equipment can be replaced simultaneously. Gradual equipment changes often introduce operational alterations that may offset the benefits of introducing a few open devices.

4. Zero Trust Network Access: Reimagining Security

The fourth hype revolves around zero trust network access. While its importance is acknowledged, there’s often a lack of a consistent definition. Technologists recommend a redefinition of “zero” trust as “explicit trust.” This shift entails the incorporation of tools and processes to validate users, resources, and their relationships. Encouraging line organizations to actively participate in the establishment of trust is pivotal. Implementing zero-trust enhancements is most effective through established vendors specializing in security or network connectivity. The involvement of line departments is indispensable to ensure the validation of users and resources, preventing a false sense of security.

While specific figures and statistics related to the prevalence of these tech hypes are challenging to provide due to the qualitative nature of this issue, the qualitative observations underscore the importance of addressing these challenges proactively. The strategies outlined are practical responses to ensure that emerging technologies are adopted in a well-considered and goal-aligned manner.

Summary:

In conclusion, the advice from tech professionals regarding management-driven hypes is not outright rejection but a strategic approach. Projects designed to demonstrate the real value and risks of over-promoted technologies offer a practical solution. Beneath every wave of hype lies a kernel of truth, and uncovering it can benefit both companies and careers. As 2023 draws to a close, the technological landscape remains dynamic, and the ability to navigate the hype is a valuable skill for technologists and organizations alike.

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