The cloud can make us work smarter, faster, and cheaper, but many companies aren’t getting all they should from their investment—because the cloud has an Achilles’ heel. It can only perform as well as its weakest link, according to research from the Boston Consulting Group.

For most businesses, that’s the network. A poorly optimized network can actually destroy the value you hoped to get from the cloud.

From the BCG report:

The network can become a bottleneck. Applications can run much slower than they should. Connecting a new network in order to launch a pop-up store, for example, may take weeks or months. Security can be compromised. Bursts of heavy traffic can lead to network crashes. The customer experience can suffer, leading to customer churn. In our survey, only 6% of retail companies were satisfied with the adaptability of their network infrastructure.

Furthermore, the traditional IT stack is becoming fragmented as new applications are born in the cloud but complex legacy applications remain on private infrastructure. This fragmentation raises barriers to the seamless flow of information and security risks as the IT department scrambles to secure a multitude of databases being accessed by myriad devices operating within and outside corporate offices.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. 

A new solution is emerging, and it’s the most interesting thing that’s happened in networking in a long time. Network as a service (NaaS) is poised to help companies operate more intelligently and efficiently so they can capture the full value of their cloud services.

CEOs and technology decision makers should make the time to reevaluate their networks. Businesses are making a substantial investment in the cloud, but even the best-cloud services can be brought to their knees by network problems.