The 5 Networking Trends Small and Medium Businesses Can’t Afford to Miss in 2020

Liz Alton
Image of networking trends for small and medium businesses in 2020

One thing is clear for businesses looking ahead to 2020 technology trends: when it comes to network architecture, speed is everything. According to the 2020 Spiceworks State of IT report, organizations will be spending at least 4% of their budgets on solving networking challenges and investing in upgrades in 2020. With new options emerging to help automate traffic, increase speed, and address security gaps, it’s easier than ever for businesses to meet their fast-changing needs to power applications, experiences, and end-user access. Here’s a closer look at five key trends shaping the networking landscape in 2020.

5G Reshapes Mobile Networks

In 2019, we saw the first scaling and adoption of 5G mobile networks. Statista predicts that by the end of 2019, there will be more than 11 million 5G subscriptions, and that number is forecasted to grow to 220 million by 2021. In the face of this explosive growth, which is only expected to continue to increase, businesses will be taking a closer look at their end-user fleets and mobile plans as workers continue to rely on mobile access. Often, today’s workscape is mobile-first, with video-streaming, real-time collaboration platforms and mobile apps that need cutting-edge bandwidth.

Adopting 5G opens up significant possibilities. Forbes notes, “The greatly increased speeds mean that mobile networks will become more usable even than the wired networks running into our homes and businesses. Companies must consider the business implications of having super-fast and stable Internet access anywhere. The increased bandwidth will enable machines, robots, and autonomous vehicles to collect and transfer more data than ever, leading to advances in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart machinery.”

Finding Partners to Navigate the Options on the Market

The number one networking pain point decision makers identified in the 2020 Spiceworks State of IT survey is the challenge of assessing and navigating the networking options on the market. Businesses are under pressure to deliver fast, flexible, scalable, and reliable services. Providing the right support to applications, end users, multiple sites, and remote workers—while keeping workloads manageable and budgets in check—can be a challenge.

As a result, companies are increasingly looking for partners to help them define their needs, conduct assessments, and evaluate the options on the market. In the same Spiceworks study cited above, decision makers noted three core steps in the buying journey:

  • Defining network and bandwidth needs
  • Researching the reliability of solutions
  • Vetting vendors to determine the total cost of ownership

As businesses look at navigating the market, they want partners who can help them better define the scope of their current and future networking opportunities and challenges. From managed solutions partners to trusted resellers and consulting services partners, small and medium business-focused offerings are making it easier to find networking solutions custom designed for these organization’s needs.

Related: Enable Your Business Through Network Transformation

Managed, Co-Managed, and DIY SD-WAN Solution

Businesses are increasing their reliance on technology, but in many cases, head counts—and even IT budgets—aren’t growing as fast as the demand for new technologies. From automating key aspects of business to streamlining management, managed solutions are helping meet those demands. One area that’s increasing in popularity is managed SD-WAN solutions. Software-defined networking allows companies to remotely manage their networks from anywhere via a software solution.

SD-WAN allows network administrators to apply rules that help automate the flow of traffic to priority applications, scale up or down the bandwidth needed across multiple locations, and even help improve security delivery. SD-WAN can be implemented as a self-managed solution, a co-managed option that provides some support but allows your business to retain control, or a fully managed SD-WAN solution that provides full support for reaching 2020’s most aggressive networking objectives.

Managed and AI Security Solutions

The cybersecurity landscape is growing increasingly complex, and more businesses are turning to a new generation of tools to help them manage emerging threats. CNBC reports that 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses and that the costs associated with a breach averages $200,000. Depending on a business’s size and industry, the risks can not only damage profits—but could even put them out of business. With new threats hitting the business landscape regularly and requiring more sophisticated intelligence, businesses are looking at cybersecurity automation strategies to help them reach their goals.

A number of solutions layer cybersecurity intelligence directly into network architecture. One of these solutions is managed cybersecurity services, which provide a greater level of protection, visibility, and oversight against threats around the clock. Advanced solutions use malware detection, threat detection, application and end-device scanning, and more to provide vigilance and detect and isolate a threat before it impacts a user’s experience. AI-powered and machine learning tools can constantly adapt the solutions and monitoring provided to offer more customized, targeted defenses against the threats that are most relevant to your business’s unique needs.

UCaaS Streamlines Communications

2020 is also the year that companies are letting go of their PBX and stepping into the full flexibility and capacity of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). Employees on the go need complete access to telephones, instant messaging, video conferences, and collaboration software. With UCaaS, it’s easy to create the flexible, affordable experiences that fulfill these needs.

There are several key benefits businesses capture by utilizing a UCaaS solution, including lower costs, simpler management, and the ability to configure solutions. Which makes it easier to increase productivity. However, there’s another focus for 2020 that’s driving businesses to accelerate their VoIP migration timelines: to lay the foundation to embrace the wider range of features that employees demand in the year ahead. UCaaS infrastructure will enable you to develop the foundation needed to continue evolving your communications and collaboration strategies, with mobility-focused features like the ability to access collaboration solutions from any device.

As businesses face increased demand for fast, reliable, and affordable bandwidth, new networking approaches and technologies are coming to the forefront in 2020. By paying attention to the trends now, it’s possible to anticipate growth opportunities, prioritize forthcoming investments, and help lay the foundation for successful networking in the year and new decade ahead.

Liz Alton is a B2B technology and digital marketing writer and content strategist. She has worked with a variety of brands including Google, Twitter, Adobe, Oracle, and HP, and written for publications including Forbes. She is a regular contributor to Connected, Connection’s official blog.