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Network data analysis driving business intelligence

According to a study from Enterprise Management Associates, network data analysis tools are now being used by enterprises to deliver valuable information to business units.

Network managers are increasingly looking for network data analysis tools to extract more value and insight from...

the data generated by their networks. But it's not just network managers who use these insights; the business side of an enterprise can benefit, too.

A new study from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), "Advanced Network Analytics: Applying Machine Learning and More to Network Engineering and Operations," identified the most likely consumers of advanced network analytics data. Within the IT organization, the results are unsurprising: Data center operations (32%), the IT executive suite (29%) and network engineering (26%) are leading the way.

On the business side, things get more interesting. Ninety-seven percent of IT pros involved with advanced network analytics said groups outside of the IT organization are consuming insights generated by network data analysis tools. The most common consumer is a business's technology R&D group (44%), followed by the corporate executive suite (34%).

The customer service or care group, manufacturing organization and product R&D group are all consumers in roughly a quarter of these enterprises. Additionally, the most successful network analytics initiatives captured in EMA's research were more likely to deliver network analytics insights to product R&D.

The EMA report saw some indication that network data analysis tools often feed insights to the core business. For instance, companies in the finance, banking and insurance industry are more likely to deliver network analytics insights to their finance department, while manufacturing companies are more likely to deliver insights to their manufacturing organization.

Business metrics revealed by network analytics

Ninety-seven percent of IT pros involved with advanced network analytics said groups outside of the IT organization are consuming insights generated by network data analysis tools.

EMA asked network analytics decision-makers to identify the business metrics that network analytics initiatives report to the enterprise. The top responses were revenue generated through IT services (68%), internal cost of service delivery (59%) and service-level agreement requirements (57%). These are metrics aimed at demonstrating the value of the IT organization and the network to business stakeholders. These metrics can foster good relations between the IT organization and the business, but they don't necessarily arm those stakeholders with information that they can use.

However, many of these analytics initiatives were reporting business metrics that can enhance the business. For instance, 55% of network analytics initiatives report on business activity metrics. These metrics can reveal emerging business trends and guide line-of-business decision-making. Supply chain outcomes are reported to the business by 51% of network analytics initiatives. These insights will be invaluable to manufacturing, retail, logistics, energy and other companies. 

Heavily regulated companies will benefit from compliance metrics, which are delivered to the business by 45% of these analytics projects. Finally, 48% of these projects report user-behavior metrics to the business, and 47% report on business-process-impact metrics.

How network analytics feed into other enterprise business metrics

The data above confirms IT organizations are relying on advanced network data analysis tools to deliver meaningful and usable insights to the business. While the primary goal appears to be demonstrating the value of the IT organization, it's also clear network analytics can provide business stakeholders with information they can use in their own decision-making.

EMA recommended IT organizations keep this in mind when evaluating network analytics possibilities. As your network operations software vendors and network infrastructure vendors brief you on their new analytics capabilities, ask them about their business metric reporting tools. Each is equally important.

This was last published in March 2018

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