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Competing in the digital era: delivering better services with SD-WAN

29 Sep 2020

Article by Vertel commercial director Tony Hudson.

Doing business successfully in the digital era is all about connectivity. 

Organisations in many sectors including government, aged care, education, retail, construction and hospitality and tourism are increasingly reliant on cloud-based services delivering services to their customers. 

When connections go down, or there is a lag, the customer experience can suffer. And, since customer experience is the number one competitive differentiator for most businesses, this is a critical challenge that needs to be addressed.

Fast and reliable internet connectivity has become an operational necessity as businesses increasingly embrace digital transformation. 

Organisations can’t compete effectively, nor deliver a strong customer experience, if they can’t rely on their network infrastructure to remain up and running, deliver critical information instantly, and support workers to complete tasks quickly.

The cause of many of the delays and connectivity issues experienced by end-users is the need to backhaul internet traffic. 

This means traffic is routed through one data centre, and all traffic is treated alike. However, not all network traffic should be treated the same; some traffic needs to be prioritised. 

For example, transactions or real-time communications like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) need to be delivered efficiently.

Overlaying legacy networks with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) can help overcome these challenges and help organisations deliver a differentiated and excellent customer experience. SD-WAN automatically prioritises traffic and makes mission-critical applications highly available.

Here are just four use cases in which SD-WAN can help businesses differentiate the customer experience:
 

Online transactions

When customers are accessing websites, it’s essential to remove any potential sources of friction to ensure they complete their transaction or enquiry. 

Delays in the website’s responsiveness or outdated information can mean the customer moves onto a competitor’s site. By contrast, a fast and responsive site with up-to-date information will keep customers coming back time and again.
 

Customer service

When a customer calls an organisation for information, the employees on the other end of the phone need that information at their fingertips. 

However, if they’re working at a branch office where connections to business systems are slow and unreliable, they may not be able to help the customer in a timely fashion. 

This can result in frustration for both the employee and the customer, diminishing the customer experience. However, if the employee has immediate access to the right systems, they can tell the customer exactly what they need to know, and the customer will be more likely to remain loyal.
 

In-store sales

Increasing use of the cloud for point of sale (POS) systems means organisations need their networks to be up and running reliably or they risk not being able to complete the sales. 

The effect can be subtle; customers may become reluctant to return because checking out seems to take a long time or be unpredictable. Or, some customers may leave without ever completing their transaction. 

Reliable connections mean customers can complete their transactions seamlessly and enjoy a more positive experience.
 

Productivity

Even for workers who aren’t in customer-facing roles, productivity can suffer if connectivity isn’t fast and reliable. 

For example, workers in branch offices may have to wait for applications to load, and they may not be able to access real-time information required to do their job. 

With fast access to systems, they can work more productively and, with a better user experience, they are more likely to be engaged in their work.
 

SD-WAN is essential for organisations looking to compete in the digital era. It manages traffic dynamically and improves cloud application performance so that the business can move at speed instead of being hamstrung by slow internet connectivity. 

This, in turn, lets businesses offer superior services and exceptional customer experience, making them more competitive even in a challenging business landscape.