The ultimate enterprise Christmas wishlist

We all know what time of year it is. Dodgy knitted jumpers are proudly on display, there's sparkly stuff hanging around the world and the C-word is on everybody's lips.

By now, most of us have at least a rough idea of what we'll be receiving at the end of the month, whether that's a flashy gadget, a hip new shirt or a pair of tickets to something noisy. However, even if the presents are a disappointment, most of us will be content with the break from work, happy to relax for a week or so before the new year hits.

We at ITProPortal think it's a crying shame that the enterprise is so blatantly neglected during the festive season. After all, Christmas is not just about a bunch of happy individuals partying around a toasty fire. The office deserves some love too. That's why we've compiled a list of everything your business needs to excel in 2014.

More robust BYOD policies

Bring your own device (BYOD) is one of the biggest talking points in technology right now, and it's not going away. In fact, the trend has grown so substantially that Gartner believes half of all businesses will require employees to use their own devices for work by 2017.

One thing is clear: any organisation still attempting to fight this phenomenon will suffer as a result. Perhaps alarmingly for some, VMware recently revealed that as many as 39 per cent of employees would consider quitting their jobs if they were unable to use their own mobile devices for work. Similarly, at the BYOX World Forum back in June, industry analyst firm Ovum announced that ignoring BYOD will only result in losing control of corporate data, and nobody wants that to happen. To reinforce the point, a study conducted by Fortinet revealed that today's workforce is more likely than ever to ignore a BYOD ban.

The statistics speak for themselves. Whether it happens now or in six months, the only intelligent thing for employers to do is to implement a solid BYOD scheme. Let your employees use their shiny tablets at their leisure - after all, many of them will probably receive an iDevice or two for Christmas - but it is up to you to make sure you stay on top of the associated risks which, admittedly, could be devastating if left unchecked. Confronting this challenge requires a robust network-level approach, and we think that enterprises can learn a lot from universities in particular as they look to solve the BYOD conundrum and embrace change.

Regular security reviews

Perhaps more than anything, 2013 will be known as the year of PRISM. The international spying scheme was exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden this summer, and frightening leaks have been dripping through ever since. Major tech superpowers like Google and Apple loudly expressed their apparent disgust at the programme when the news broke, while many consumers have lost all trust in seemingly benign leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron.

Ordinary firms should be as disturbed by these events as anybody. After all, there are two sides to this story: while organisations like the NSA and GCHQ have been routinely breaking into the systems of companies with little to no consent, Snowden has spectacularly demonstrated how easy it can be for an individual to steal important and sensitive data from an employer.

Businesses need to seriously rethink their security practices. The most effective answer is for companies to adopt a microscopic security scheme, where each file is treated to individual protection. With such a system, IT maintains tight control over the ways in which files are handled, limiting access, printing and sharing capabilities when necessary, even if documents end up being distributed via the cloud.

Agility

In an increasingly fast-paced world, outdated business processes are a major liability. Flexibility in the workplace is no longer just a bonus – it's becoming a necessity. More and more companies across the globe are choosing to embrace agile practices, and it is easy to see why.

The following situation is familiar to every IT department: a business head approaches you with a request, which you and your team take time to complete to the best of your abilities, only for the resulting product to suffer rejection because the original brief was tweaked somewhere down the line without your knowledge. Cue a domino effect, where the development or product management team is forced to invest further effort into addressing these problems and trying to implement a new plan.

As well as being seriously demoralising, this is a waste of time and money. With an agile approach, however, high-priority areas can be tackled quickly, providing key features to the business and enabling quick deployment and testing. Just as importantly, the breakdown of projects into shorter sprints allows feedback to be received regularly.

This enables the company as a whole to be more responsive and competitive whilst still ensuring regular delivery cycles. And it's not just IT and developers that can benefit from agility. Learn more by checking out our two-piece guide on how to successfully implement an agile enterprise initiative.

Better Wi-Fi

According to a survey conducted earlier this year by Ipswitch, erratic connectivity is one of the biggest peeves of the modern IT professional. Almost 20 per cent of respondents said that Wi-Fi issues in the office are responsible for many an unwanted and potentially expensive call-out over the holiday period. The simple solution? Address the root cause of the problem. Wi-Fi is a component of the office that your workers simply cannot cope without, so it really does make sense to invest in a good router. Fewer things are more irritating than losing connectivity when you are engaged in an important project. If you can't decide which machine to go for, check out our guide to buying the best wireless router.

More productive meetings

This is an area that every enterprise should feel strongly about. While the majority of meetings can be highly productive, poorly-executed ones can be detrimental. I've lost track of the number of hours I've spent in a boardroom discussing the same matters over and over, knowing full well that my time could have been put to much better use elsewhere. Working towards a deadline, managing projects, networking, eating lunch - anything but a never-ending cycle of futile discussion. For such drawn-out meetings to end without any clear actionable insights adds insult to injury.

This topic riled Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, so much that he composed a very useful article earlier this year: 'A Simple Rule to Eliminate Useless Meetings.' Weiner's magic tip? Replace the inevitable presentation with a series of notes circulated in the 24 hours immediately ahead of the meeting, or sacrifice the first 10 minutes of a meeting to ponder the agenda. However, we think that there's a little more to finding the perfect formula for team discussions. From fast scheduling to clear objectives and easing up on technological aspects, our guide to executing the perfect business meeting contains all the tips you'll need to improve your enterprise's productivity in 2014.

Business headsets

The rise of BYOD has brought with it more than just enterprise in-fighting. According to Canalys, the increased adoption of personal phones in the office has resulted in rapidly declining sales of desktop telephones. However, some companies are trying to fight back with fixed-mobile convergence policies and unified communications (UC) solutions. Rather than risking the wrath of poorly executed BYOD (which can compromise intellectual property and valuable business contacts), organisations are increasingly turning to alternative tools like softphone client apps and business headsets, sales of which are on the rise.

These cost-effective services provide employees full access to company directories, as well as features like conference calling and transferring conversations, and also benefit from more robust security. Other benefits of business headsets include the ability of employees to type (or browse Facebook) while talking, superior audio quality, and improved mobility around the office. What's not to like?