In the beginning, telephones were dumb and the switching network was smart. Future thinking network planning was already in the works with signaling system 7 (SS7) network technology. SS7 enables your cell phone text messaging and allows you to take your smartphone almost anywhere in the world. The Internet, on the other hand, was designed for smart devices such as a computer, and the network was dumb. As the Internet transformed to interconnect a slew of smart devices — from mainframes to the Internet of Things (IoT) — the network of the future also evolved or transformed to be ready for what may come.

Digital transformation of the network means looking forward to what is possible in the next five to 25 years, or even a century from now. Recently, it was the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. With more than a billion iPhones and billions of users, we now essentially live our lives on our Internet-enabled smart devices. For the enterprise, this means faster communications to anyone, anywhere inside or outside the company along with live video. Unified communication means more than a “unified” panel; it really means we can also unify the documents, content, project plans, geo-maps and all the other files we work on. This means a digital transformation in corporate thinking. “The faster we can communicate, the faster we can change” is the new management mantra.

Management of the network has transformed exponentially, though we still gripe when we don’t have 10+ megabit speeds via wireless as we walk down the street. Connecting customer networks has also undergone exponential change. Cloud-enabled communications, also known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS), enhances the communications of big companies with multiple branches to act in a unified way. With advanced OSS — operational support systems — new users, bandwidth, features and other services are available on demand.

In order to keep pace with an essentially “infinite demand” for bandwidth, the network must be agile, forward-thinking, security conscious and manageable. When we complain about “slow downloads,” many people don’t understand what takes place in the network to let us watch billions of videos, social media posts, real-time mapping, searches and myriad other increasingly complex tasks we expect anytime from anywhere. Digital network transformation means that the physical facilities from optical fiber, cable, cell towers, satellites and even balloons are in place to accomplish this. Digital transformation means not only a smarter network, but also smarter ways to manage this complexity.

There is no doubt where the Internet is going: inside all things! Not just IoT, where Internet is embedded into appliances, home tech, any business thing and everything else, the real “I” in the IoT is “inside.” In “Casino Royale,” James Bond let M put a tech “pill” inside his arm without a complaint. M quipped, “We know where you are.” Indeed, as we think about tracking cars, planes, trains, etc., we also want to track people to keep them safe, secure and even social. Let your imagination go wild and it will likely come true.

In a very real sense, technology always changes much faster than we can predict, while the spectrum of user needs and demands also expands faster than we can often cope with. Companies like CenturyLink are already thinking how technology will impact all of our lives.

While no one can predict the future, we can surmise — based on past behaviors and technological innovation — that people and businesses will continue to rely on technology to compete and connect to the world around them. And the infrastructure powering those technologies remains just as critical as ever.

Are you ready to enhance your infrastructure for future business? Talk to a CenturyLink IT expert. We’ll help you get started.

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