The pace of technological change has never been greater. From fledgling start-ups to the largest multi-national corporations, today's businesses understand that identifying the 'next big thing' - the next disruptive innovation - is the key to long-term success.
From global internet brands acquiring drone manufacturers or virtual reality start-ups, to non-technology businesses investing in smarter software and mobile application development, we are all looking for an edge that will allow us to stand out from the competition.
However, these much sought-after innovations are increasingly coming up against the limits of our existing network infrastructure. As the foundation that underpins so many emerging technologies - from AI-powered personal assistants to self-driving cars - it is vital that we address its shortcomings.
So, what is wrong with today's network? How can the Internet, that has powered so many of the innovations in the 21st century, be holding innovation back? In short, networks are starting to show their age.
Today's networks were built at the dawn of the Internet. The use of this early Internet, which began with a small number of connected desktop PCs, has exploded with the advent of tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, smart TVs... and increasingly, a vast multitude of 'connected things'. As a result, network requirements have changed from static to dynamic, data has become bigger and richer, connections have shifted from fixed to mobile and applications have moved from on-premise to the cloud.
The network we have today was simply not designed for this brave new world. In fact, it has remained largely the same since it was first designed twenty years ago; a time when the Channel Tunnel was brand new, Nelson Mandela had just been elected as President of South Africa, and the few of us that were browsing the Internet were probably doing so using Mosaic Netscape 0.9. The network has been crucial to so much technological change since then, but we now need it to evolve if the next wave of radical innovations we are striving for are to come to fruition.
Fortunately, there are technologies available now that can make the network more intelligent, more responsive and more resilient. A new, software-based approach will allow us to rethink the way the entire network environment is architected so we can deliver next-generation innovations, apps and services faster and more simply. This new network architecture will have the added benefit of reducing both capital and operating costs, freeing up time and resource for businesses to invest in even more innovation programmes.
If we truly want to embrace innovation, we need to build a strong platform from which to deliver it. By investing in infrastructure as well as applications, businesses can create a flexible, agile, and intelligent foundation for the incredible technologies being created all around us. In the process, they will turn the network from an innovation inhibitor into a genuine competitive advantage.