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The Network Faces Its Greatest Transformation Yet

Cisco’s 2020 Global Networking Trends Report identifies intent-based networking, along with AI and automation, among the key trends shaping the next significant evolution of networking.

Your Network: The Next 5 Years

Global IT leaders have identified artificial intelligence (AI), network automation, and intent-based networking (IBN) as key technologies that will have significant impact on networking over the next five years.


Today, 4% of IT leaders classify their networks as IBN.


In two years, 35% of IT leaders plan to deploy IBN.

AI is Key to Network Automation

AI and analytics is voted the #1 priority for achieving a modern network by 47% of network strategists.

Over 60% of large enterprises worldwide will rely on advanced AI capabilities to automate at least one part of their enterprise network by 2024.

Source: IDC 2020 Networking Predictions

AI will play a major role in the evolution to IBN

  • Translation: AI helps bridge business and IT by converting intent into network policies, using, for example, natural language processing (NLP).
  • Activation: Machine learning (ML) helps automate device classification and simplify dynamic policy creation.
  • Assurance: Machine learning and machine reasoning help IT accurately correlate events and proactively remediate problems.

AI capabilities are available and maturing

But that doesn’t mean your network can run itself. The majority of operational tasks, demanding more flexible and contextual decision-making, still require the expertise and intervention of humans.


Only 17% of network strategists believe a lack of maturity in AI technologies poses an obstacle to network modernization.


However, 34% of IT leaders believe their teams are not well equipped with skills to support AI operations.


As many as 72% of network strategists project using AI-enabled predictive insights or prescriptive remediation within the next two years.

Humans and AI working together

The most successful organizations will find that by using AI and integrating network controllers with other IT systems, teams will be able to transform reactive operations into predictive operations.

By 2025, AI-enabled network assurance tools will fully automate several well-defined, specific tasks very well – but the majority will still require human intervention.”

J.P. Vasseur, Cisco Fellow

Moving towards intent-based networking

IT leaders and network strategists are bullish about moving from a network built on connectivity to an intent-based network that continuously aligns to changing business requirements. 

Cisco's Digital Network Readiness Model is a five-stage evolutionary model that can be applied across multiple network readiness categories (such as AI) to track and plan your next steps toward an intent-based network.

Learn more about these stages of network maturity

Businesses of all sizes are in the middle of a global transformation toward IBN. This new model of networking allows organizations to handle, more effectively, the scale, sophistication, and security issues inherent in this generational transition. Find out for yourselves where your network is in this important evolution.

Discover more important trends

Stay current with all the trends shaping tomorrow’s networks. The 2020 Global Networking Trends Report, based on original research, includes new data from Cisco’s 2019 Cisco Global Networking Trends Survey of 2061 IT leaders and network strategists from 13 countries.