In my early career in technology, the Local Area Network consisted of some switches in a room connected to some Ethernet sockets on the wall. That was really it – providing wired internet access was the beginning and end of it all.

But having looked at the latest deal between DXC Technology (the company formed by the merger of CSC and HPE) and AkzoNobel, a global paints and coatings company based in The Netherlands, it’s clear that the humble LAN has finally grown up and is now centre stage in how companies deliver IT services to their staff.

I spoke to Hans Klopper, client executive at DXC, about the evolution of their relationship with AkzoNobel and why the new LAN deal is so important. The first deal between the two companies (prior to the merger) was struck 8 years ago, so there is clearly a good match between client and provider. Services then covered the IT workplace, most recently including a multi-lingual Global Service Desk and a rollout of a Windows 10.

The new deal involves implementation of Aruba-based LANs that will serve around 45,000 employees and contractors in factories, shops and offices. The aspirations for how this will enable AkzoNobel’s ‘digital transformation’ are big, but Hans assures me that they are very realistic. For example, staff will be able to walk into a meeting room and be automatically connected to the presentation devices there. As the press release claims: “they’ll no longer need any cables or special settings; everything will happen automatically.” Now, if you are like me and visit a lot of meeting rooms and do a lot of presentations, you will know what a frustrating experience this usually is. Apparently, though, the next-gen LAN will solve all of that. The secret, according to Hans, is designing the solution from end-to-end, with the end-user experience the prime concern, not just looking at the bits of kit that go to make up the system. That means that all of the weak links in the system that usually lead to all that frustration can be eliminated.

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Hans also thinks that the LAN will help AkzoNobel attract the best talent to the company. This is because they use many contractors, particularly in the R&D environment, who have to be connected and disconnected from the LAN as and when they are working. Making this as frictionless as possible, whilst still retaining the flexibility of people being able to use their own devices, means that the best brains will feel more comfortable working there than at a competitor. Who knew that the humble LAN was a key driver of talent acquisition?

The LAN will also enable plenty of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, including analysing temperatures, speed and maintenance needs in production environments. If this deal does actually deliver on its promises (and all the indications seem to be that it will) then every worker’s dream of being able to connect anytime, anywhere and on any device, could actually become a reality.

About the author

Andrew Burgess has been the lead architect within several major change projects, including strategic development, IT transformation and outsourcing, in a wide range of industries across four continents. He has developed and implemented sourcing strategies for global organisations, running sourcing programs and helping re-organise IT departments to maximise their value from sourcing. Andrew was recently awarded ‘Automation Champion of the Year’ by the GSA, the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry. He is widely considered to be a leading expert in the growing Legal Transformation and Outsourcing market and has recently written ‘The Rise of Legal Services Outsourcing’ in collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE). Andrew’s latest book, ‘The Executive Guide to Artificial Intelligence‘ has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Andrew is a council member of the Global Sourcing Association and is Head of Consulting at HG Insights.