Predicting the business landscape is a tricky business – but with the right knowledge, expertise and guidance, businesses can at least make an informed guess at what lies ahead in 2014. Let’s take a peep over the horizon to reveal the biggest IT mistakes businesses are expected to make in 2014…
1. Ignoring BlackBerry
Gartner has damned them, public apologies are rife and the struggles in 2013 have been well documented. But do businesses risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater in 2014 by ignoring BlackBerry’s offerings? As the original corporate-warrior’s tool, BlackBerry has always lauded its practical keyboard and super-secure platform over its competitors. If the mere thought of a BYOD set-up induces a migraine – it might be worth at least considering BlackBerry’s BES10 offering in 2014.
2. Plodding Along With Slow Broadband
There’s little that will take a sledgehammer to productivity more than slow, clunky or inefficient broadband. Even those who have switched to fibre broadband are still sharing bandwidth with other users nearby, as well as fighting for room on BT’s core network along with the millions of other broadband users across the UK. A better option is to upgrade to an Ethernet service, which offers all the high-speed benefits of fibre connectivity but with the added benefit of an uncontended bandwidth and business-strength service level agreements.
3. Not Divorcing BT
With research showing people are more likely to get divorced than switch from a bank account they’re unhappy with, it’s fair to say Brits aren’t the most forthcoming when it comes to switching providers. Being bounced around global call centres might be a running joke among BT customers, but this reputation for poor customer service creeps into BT’s business offering too – especially for SMEs. Rather than feeling like a small cog in a very large machine, independent providers are often cheaper, UK-based and have a much greater emphasis on customer service. If you wouldn’t dream of treating your customers the way you have been treated – it’s time to shop around in 2014. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, especially in the telecommunications industry.
4. Picking Up Someone Else’s Phone Bill
It’s one thing picking up the tab after a swanky business lunch, but what about your phone lines? As voice networks have become more sophisticated, so have the scams used by phone hackers, fraudsters and other malicious perpetrators to make an illegal profit. Toll fraud, and more specifically PBX hacking, is a growing threat to any business connected to the public telephone network. Estimates as to the scale of the problem vary, but it’s thought that fraudsters are generating calls worth billions which customers are legally obliged to foot the bill for. Make it your New Year’s resolution to ask your provider if you’re protected.
5. Holding Back From The Cloud
It’s been a buzz-word since the late 00’s – but a remarkable amount of businesses still feel overwhelmed by the C-word. Data sovereignty is the latest hot potato – with IT managers fretting over where their data may be held, and who might be able to access it. A trusted provider will be able to outline the best approach for your business, just be sure not to settle for a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The cloud is one of the few buzz words which has stuck around for a reason – and that’s because the benefits of converged, hosted infrastructure in ‘the cloud’ are so compelling.
6. Assuming BYOD Is Taken Care Of
So all employees have chosen a device, everyone is connected to the right systems and productivity is at an all-time high. The prepared ones will even have installed security software. What’s not to love about BYOD? Well, nothing – until someone leaves a laptop on the 0642 to Euston. The majority of businesses have still not embraced an enterprise mobility strategy, whether that be a simple remote wipe function with Exchange 2010 or a Mobile Device Management solution. If your business lost a device tomorrow – could you cope with the consequences? If the answer is no, it’s time to add BYOD security to your 2014 to-do list.
7. Not Virtualising Servers
Unsure whether your servers are on site or not? Just listen out for a low whirring sound… Jokes aside, a stack of ageing servers sitting under desks, in comms rooms or even in data centres are just burning away money – not to mention the added cost of having someone to back up, maintain, regulate and update them. Quite a feat if IT isn’t your day-to-day role. Reliable, efficient and cost-effective virtual servers hosted by an external provider free up time, space and money, as well as offering peace of mind. Dedicated server options are widely available too – so important regulations can still be complied with.
8. Ignoring The ‘Video Revolution’ For Another Year
Getting déjà vu? It’s true that every year in recent memory has been the year of the ‘video revolution’. But with increasingly capable end user devices and quality software from Cisco, Microsoft and Polycom, is it coming of age at last? With remote working and BYOD forecast to go from strength to strength (according to Gartner 70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018) it looks as though video conferencing is finally going to have both the demand and the technology it needs to become a business staple. Don’t get left behind.
9. Taking The ‘Soft’ Option On Security
The internet security is taken care of, an expensive firewall is safely in place and there’s a rigorous system in place for the resetting of passwords. To all intents and purposes, your security system is top notch. Yet ‘soft’ security software measures have taken such a president over the past few years that companies are increasingly taking shortcuts when it comes to physical security. While an intruder on your intranet would set alarm bells ringing – how easy would it be for a couple of imposters in hi-vis jackets to wander on site unchallenged? Online security is still high on the agenda – but don’t make the mistake of forgetting about the basics too.
10. Sticking With Aging Phone Systems
Still running most of your calls over ISDN? Then it’s worth taking a serious look at how easy it is to switch to cheaper, more flexible SIP connectivity in 2014. Until recently ISDN had been the only viable choice for companies that needed business-grade telephony. Fast forward 12 months and a surge of UK organisations are switching to SIP as a more cost-effective way to run their business calls. As well as savings on line rental and call costs, SIP is easy to upgrade and also improves resilience to ensure reliable, high-quality connectivity and calls.
Essentially, dealing with knowledgeable, independent and trustworthy suppliers is the most effective way to avoid the big business pitfalls of 2014. In a still-recovering economy only the toughest and most agile will survive, so be sure to ask the right questions, make the right moves and try to stay ahead of the pack.