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How partners can participate in the new world of hybrid work

We often talk about the new hybrid world and the rewriting of the rules for how organisations operate and function.

The operational reality for most businesses has changed considerably in the past two years. That reality is characterised by a new enterprise stack in which the cloud has become the new data centre, SaaS the new application stack, our homes the new office, and the Internet the new enterprise network that connects it all together. All of these elements come together to power a hybrid work stack that will be familiar to most organisations.

At the same time, organisations that rely on this kind of hybrid work stack will also be familiar with the operational challenges it poses. The quality of the user experience and performance are crucial environmental characteristics that can be hard to attain, and then maintain.

The reason for this is complexity? Organisations neither own nor have direct control over many of the components that now make up the end-to-end service delivery. In addition to all these components being reliant on one another for the end-to-end service to function, each component often has its own sub-dependencies: on other services, web hosts, networking peers, or other providers.

These interdependencies in the way the component is architected are not always immediately obvious. If just one breaks, it can have a complex flow-on impact that degrades the performance of, or results in an outage to, an organisation's end-to-end service delivery chain.

All of this creates an accumulation of blind spots for organisations. If these blind spots go unrecognised or wind up being the root cause of a front-facing problem that proved difficult to diagnose, they can result in business-critical issues or failures and a lack of trust in the reliability of hybrid work environments.

The monitoring sell

Establishing and maintaining deep visibility of all the dependencies and interdependencies is required to maximise the effectiveness of what's in place and to identify the gaps that can cause a negative experience.

A lot of organisations already understand that new visibility solutions are needed to be able to look across the spectrum of technologies that make up hybrid work environments, particularly components that live outside of the traditional IT perimeter.

Such organisations are dealing firsthand with a wealth of complex applications, networks, and cloud services, all of which constantly evolve. They understand that the smooth working of all these elements - and the success of the hybrid workforces that rely on them - is totally dependent on unpredictable Internet behaviour and idiosyncratic home networks, and that finding a way to tame - or at least keep tabs on - these networks and clouds affords them a better shot at providing the quality of experience their customers or employees expect.

As the move into the hybrid world deepens, organisations can benefit from guidance on how they can optimise their environments and setups. Partners of these organisations may be well-positioned to provide consultancy and valuable input into efforts to build good digital experiences, taking learnings from a wide variety of projects and applying those learnings to ensure all organisations can achieve value outcomes faster.

At Cisco ThousandEyes, we recently went all-in with our partners to deliver on our commitment and meet the demand for cloud and Internet visibility. For our partners, the new worlds of hybrid work and digital transformation offer multiple opportunities to sell modern intelligence and visibility solutions: from licensing cloud-based monitoring software to organisations, to offering monitoring as a professional- or managed-service.

Our partners are managing the many end customers in the market for a monitoring solution that can help them to meet today's new and evolving quality experience needs. They understand the need for modern intelligence solutions that offer insight into cloud and Internet environments to identify issues that impact digital experience and opportunities for improvement.

Conversation starters

Partners that win in the new hybrid world are those that best address key organisational pain points, such as the frequency, duration, and impact that outages have on operations.

With uptime and availability so important in an always-on, hybrid work world, organisations are under pressure to solve problems faster: to understand whether it's an internal or external issue; whether it's an application, network, or both; who is impacted; and when services might be restored.

Organisations know they can't afford to fly blind but often don't have all the answers.

They need clear external visibility of application availability from the customer's or employee's point of view, so they can take an informed response to outage reports, minimise downtime and achieve a faster time to resolution. Improvements in these areas will be noticeable to executives, IT and to staff and/or external customers - and partners that show the way on this can deepen their trusted status.

Targeted, open-ended questions can often spark really good conversations: one I used recently was, ‘How do you react to an outage?' It's a simple question but can quickly lead into a discussion of escalating pain points, and one where a partner can often add value.

Partners can use Cisco's quarterly Hybrid Work Index as a barometer of trends in this space and as an up-to-date aggregate perspective to help inform their conversations. Findings from the June edition, for example, show that application monitoring in hybrid work has tripled since the early months of 2020. Collaboration apps, in particular, show a 54x increase in monitoring in March 2022 compared to January 2020.

In hybrid work, as well as cloud migration and other digital transformation projects, the Internet plays a critical role as the new corporate network that binds it all together. That won't change, and as our partners become strategic advisors and providers helping customers navigate in these new waters, our commitment is simple: to support partners supporting customers with the innovation they need to thrive today and tomorrow.

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