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February 27, 2018 | By

How to Explain SD-WAN to Executives

Business networks are like New York City’s subways, a muddled, byzantine mess. It’s because companies keep extending network access to remote sites and they continue to pile on more cloud apps.

As an IT manager, you know that a viable solution for managing the security, stability, cost, and complexity of your business network is SD-WAN. But how do you explain SD-WAN to an executive? It’s a complicated product to explain—especially to an audience with limited technological expertise.

Here are some ideas and resources to help you convince your executives that SD-WAN is the right investment for your company.

Hook Your Executive

First, you must grab your executive’s attention. We recommend an arresting image or an emotive / relatable metaphor. For example, people go bonkers when they’re stuck behind a vehicle that’s going fifteen miles under the speed limit. Use this immediate and raw emotion to explain the plight of your company’s network.

“Imagine you’re traveling to work on the freeway. When conditions are ideal, it’s supposed to be a 15 minute commute, but it’s taking you 35 minutes. Why? Because everyone—including yourself—is driving a Geo Metro. The speed limit is 75 mph, but all of your Geo Metros max out at 60 mph.”  

Explain the Problem

If you only do one thing well during this SD-WAN presentation, let it be explaining the problem and solution. Executives don’t want to spend money unless the need is dire, so paint a dire picture of your company’s network.

Explain this isn’t just a one day occurrence. All of your company employees are stuck driving an outdated, slow Geo Metro. It’s more than an inconvenience because it’s affecting your business operations in a very real and tangible way. It’s affecting the quality of your company’s communication, retarding your access and security to important information, and it’s curbing the performance of your business apps.  

How do we fix the problem? There are two solutions.

  1. Add more lanes to the highway
  2. Replace those Geo Metros with Teslas

For years, businesses have said to just add more lanes to the freeway—buy more bandwidth. But adding more lanes is expensive, and it won’t make your Geo Metros go any faster. The second solution is more affordable and effective. The Teslas, in this scenario, are a product called SD-WAN. By buying SD-WAN, you can watch your company’s critical cloud business applications run faster and better than ever before.

SD-WAN gives your company a layer 7 network awareness, which allows you to optimize your current bandwidth. Essentially, SD-WAN helps you improve and effectively use your current infrastructure and network resources. It gives priority to your most critical applications. And with sub second packet steering and multiple WANs, you can ensure those connections won’t experience any disruptions.

Explaining SD-WAn to Executives

Wait! What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is an obscure and confusing acronym. So after you introduce it as a solution to your exec, expect her or him to give you a confused look and ask something like:

“What’s an SD-WAN?”

“SD-What?”

Explain it simply: SD-WAN improves and optimizes your company’s network infrastructure. With SD-WAN, you install hardware devices and software across your highly distributed system to provide an updated and more efficient network infrastructure. Instead of using your old routers, SD-WAN uses software or virtualization instead.

How Much Will SD-WAN Cost?

Because your executive has likely never heard of SD-WAN before, they’ll immediately panic.

“How much will this ‘SD-WAN’ cost?”

Tech upgrades can be expensive, and presenting a solution with a weird sounding name won’t be reassuring to your executive. Not to mention offering Teslas as the solution in your metaphor doesn’t sound cost-effective. So quickly address your executive’s worries about the price. You can either present an exact number from a quote that you’ve put together, or you can give them an estimate.

Because Jive offers extremely competitive installation costs and monthly rates, you can use Jive’s SD-WAN to give your executive a ballpark figure. Jive setup and configuration of SD-WAN is $250. The 10 Mbps device starts at $85 per month, and the 30 Mbps is $124 per month.

Will SD-WAN Fix Your Network Problems?

Here, the reasonable and affordable price of SD-WAN becomes a double-edged sword. It’ll make any executive ecstatic that the solution is affordable. But because it’s such a reasonable and affordable network solution, executives may worry that it won’t solve the problem.

“If it’s so cheap, will it even work?”

“Is this some sort of IT snake oil?”

This is where you lay on the credibility, tech jargon, and emphasize just how SD-WAN will benefit your company.

What are the Key Benefits of SD-WAN?

If you’re giving a SD-WAN presentation, have a slide with these bullet points. If it’s an elevator pitch, here are the main points you’ll want to hit. Tell your executive that implementing SD-WAN:

  • Improves network service  
  • Reduces network cost and complexity
  • Increase application performance
  • Offers insights and network control
  • Enhance network security

After you’ve shown or outlined your pithy list of SD-WAN benefits, you need to explain what this means in tangible terms for your boss.

Here are some examples of how to make these benefits tangible and especially enticing for an executive:

  • “Reduces network cost.” Give them a number. Do a little math and give them an estimate of just how much money it’ll save you in the first year.
  • “Improve application performance” Remember how your sales team couldn’t access information off Salesforce while talking to a potential client, and how that may be the reason you lost the sale? “Improve application performances” means that this problem with your Salesforce app won’t happen again.
  • “Improves network service. Remember your frustration holding a virtual meeting with our office in San Antonio? SD-WAN improves your network, which improves your communications. It will provide better video and audio performance for those critical meetings.

A Successful SD-WAN Presentation

SD-WAN Presentation

Whether you have 30 seconds in an elevator or a formal 30-minute SD-WAN presentation scheduled, just remember the basics. Get their attention. Present the problem and solution. Give a quick and simple definition of SD-WAN. Reassure the executives that it’s an affordable solution. And finally stress how SD-WAN solves your company’s network problems.

If you’re looking for an engaging and informative presentation to accompany this information, you can download Jive’s SD-WAN Presentation. This is an excellent resource that Jive uses to explain SD-WAN and its benefits.

If you’re still nervous about persuading your executives to invest in SD-WAN, get some helpful tips and advice from our ebook, “15 Steps to Score that ‘Yes’: How to Pitch a Business idea to Your Boss.”

15 Steps to Score That “Yes”: How to Pitch a Business idea to Your Boss


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