Across the Midwest, many areas have often fallen under that dreaded label of ‘underserved’, meaning that they aren’t often able to access or capitalize on the same digital opportunities that some more developed hubs can. Now, this isn’t to say that the Midwest doesn’t have its own epicenters of innovation — we can’t forget about Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh or even Columbus when we think about the new technological wave. Still, as a whole, it’s hard to argue the idea that some more rural areas have ground to cover in terms of making IT advancements.
However, it seems like the Midwest might be on track to kick that ‘underserved’ moniker and firmly establish its place among the tech giants. Headlines are praising Ohio’s significant strides as a ‘start-up central’, and others are digging into the story that surrounds these hubs about the widespread interest in developing an even more tech-forward landscape. With all of this in mind, it’s clear that next-gen applications and tools will eventually head to our hometowns — and that means organizations need to be ready to adopt them. Still, in an area that might be considered sleepy by comparison, getting ready for digital transformations takes time and thorough consideration. Luckily, it all starts with something relatively simple: the network.
Why are Networks the Key to Midwest Innovation?
Midwestern states might be the newest backdrop for this story of development, but the plot is the same: In order to succeed in the end, having the right IT and connectivity foundations is where all heroes must begin their journey. This is because all of the most in-demand applications that are changing the game for operations, user experiences, and customer satisfaction (think AI, machine learning, 5G, extended reality and others) depend on low latency and robust capacity.
Currently, innovative new options are delivering a bounty of opportunity for organizations of all sizes across verticals like healthcare, manufacturing, government, and more. For healthcare, wearable devices are being used to gather important medical data, telehealth is changing how communities procure care, and AI is being used to better understand patient information and deliver more accurate diagnoses and treatments. In manufacturing, machine learning and AI are being used as a dynamic duo to keep production smarter, more insightful and more automated — meaning fewer disruptions from malfunctions, fewer on-the-job incidents, and more streamlined production. This is just the beginning, and all this value can be unlocked in the Midwest — but what must come first is a connectivity strategy capable of empowering that value.
So, let’s step back and understand how the network underpins all of this.
Whether it’s AI, 5G, machine learning, or another technology, what all of these use cases have in common is an acute dependence on fast, reliable, secure connectivity. For instance, in order for medical wearables to be accurate, they have to update and report data in real time. Healthcare also must keep all sensitive patient data private and protected from any leaks, which could severely damage patient trust. Additionally, the connection between the data and the places where it’s stored and shared can’t be severed, or else the right people won’t be able to make the right decisions at the right time. This is the case for nearly every cutting-edge application out there today. It all comes down to speed, reliability, and security — all of which are built from the network up.
What’s In a Reliable, Secure, Fast Network?
The ways in which the business network is being optimized are seemingly as numerous and diverse as the applications they support. In other words, there’s more than one way to solve the connectivity challenge and create a future-proofed framework.
Among the tools that many are adopting today are dark fiber, SD-WAN, Ethernet and DIA. These solutions deliver a host of advantages that align well with new demands — DIA (Direct Internet Access) delivers private internet connectivity, keeping traffic unaffected by outside users and protecting bandwidth and speed reliability. Dark fiber is also fully private and provides nearly limitless scalability, enabling businesses to push as much data through those lines as they want as their technology adoption grows and evolves — all while keeping the data safe. Ethernet is also a great option for security and speed, since its physical connections create a direct connectivity link (which a hacker would have to physically access) that can even outperform Wi-Fi when it comes to speed. SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networking) is totally flipping the script on traditional connectivity, offering a turnkey solution that helps optimize and adapt bandwidth for peak usage and easily manage security protocols across all network locations and connections.
As noted, there are a lot of ways that organizations in the Midwest are preparing their networks for what’s to come. However, what will make an organization the most agile and capable of innovating will go beyond the network itself and rely on the partnership between a network provider and customer. With better partnerships come more tailored deployments, better service quality, faster roadblock resolutions and more.
That’s why Horizon is committed to serving as a trusted local fiber partner in the Midwest. To learn more about how our suite of connectivity solutions can help you get ready for digital transformation, contact us here.