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Five key trends you need to know about this new financial year

29 Jun 2022, by Slade Baylis

With the end of the financial year approaching, much like new year’s eve, it’s a good time to think about the year that’s passed and make plans for the future. It’s unlikely that they’ll be the same sort of plans (you’re unlikely to sign up for a gym membership that you’ll cancel in a few months!) but the plans you do make can be very impactful as they can directly affect the growth of your business.

It’s for that reason that we’ve decided to put together this article detailing the key issues and topics our clients need to know about heading into the new financial year.

Supply Chain Issues & Hardware Delays

Due to geopolitical instability, Covid-19, and lockdowns over the last few years, most of the world’s economy is seeing supply chain issues cause shortages and delays – and unfortunately this is just as true for server hardware and networking appliances as well.

Whereas previously hardware could be ordered and delivered within a few weeks, nowadays we’re seeing delays of months for relatively common equipment. This ranges from consumer electronics, servers, and even networking equipment. For example, for some server orders from Dell we’re sometimes seeing lead times of up to three to four months! It’s not just delays though, in some cases suppliers have even had to declare some hardware lines EOL (end of life) ahead of schedule due to shortages on vital components!

As reported by Computer Weekly1, it’s been estimated by the Uptime Institute that suppliers are expecting hardware shortages caused by supply chain issues to continue over the next two years. Due to these issues, it’s likely that SMBs and even Enterprises might turn to pre-owned hardware as the solution to shortages in the short term.

With these challenges in mind, if you need or expect to need to expand your systems in the near future, moving those plans forward may be the best choice – best to acquire that hardware before it becomes even more scarce!

The Cyber “Cold War”

Supply chain issues are just one flow-on effect of global geopolitical instability – with rise of tensions and conflicts internationally, experts are warning that we could see a whole new level of threat from nation-state adversaries. 

As reported by Forbes2, cyber expert Nicolas Chaillan, the former chief software officer for the U.S. Air Force and Space Force, recently noted that the world has reached a point where cyberspace is approaching a modern cold war. Chaillan warned that powerful nation-state adversaries could wreak havoc for organisations all over the world, through attacks on critical infrastructure, the supply chain, satellites, and through disinformation.

When it comes to attacks on Australian businesses, the amount of cyber-attacks on Australian businesses increased by 89 percent in 2020 alone. In 2022, that picture has only gotten worse. As reported by Business Australia3, almost half of attacks in 2022 targeted SME businesses - not only that, but new ransomware attacks occur every 11 seconds.

For these reasons we recommend that every organisation reviews the security they have in place to protect their IT infrastructure. Internal business policies and procedures should also be reviewed, as a large amount of threats come in the form of social engineering – with these sorts of attacks malicious third parties attempt to trick or manipulate staff into giving them information or access to systems that they should not have. 

As always, we’re more than happy to help review or audit the security that’s in place in your environment, providing recommendations and guidance on how it can be improved – just reach out to us if you’re interested!

A greater shift towards eCommerce

For news that won’t come as a shock to most of our readers, the amount of purchases made online has climbed substantially since the start of the pandemic. With people being unable or unwilling to shop in person, the desire to purchase products and services remained just as strong, resulting in online shopping being kicked into overdrive. 

As reported by the International Trade Administration4, Australia’s eCommerce market reached 25.7 billion dollars in 2020 and is predicted to reach 32.3 billion by 2024, which would represent a 15.5 percent increase year over year! One interesting point about this trend is that a good portion of the increase has been driven by growth in purchases by people aged 50 – 75 years old5.

These increases highlight the need for businesses not only to have an online presence, but also the ability for people to purchase your products and services online.

The importance of responsive website design

With greater than 50% of all website traffic globally coming from mobiles6, it’s a good idea to make sure that your businesses website is mobile friendly. If your website doesn’t work well on these devices, not only will that put off a large section of your visitors, but Google will actually penalise your search engine ranking! 

As reported by Syreo7, with the rising growth of mobile as the primary entry-point for most visitors to the internet, Google has responded by creating two separate “search indexes”, one for desktop computers and the other for mobiles. In layman’s terms, what this means is that if your website doesn’t work well on mobiles, you may actually be penalised quite significantly when people search for your services. You could rank highly when people search for you on a computer, but then be unfindable through a mobile device.

The solution to this problem? Make sure your website’s design is “responsive”.

Without getting too technical, websites that are built with a responsive design always send the same HTML code to all devices, but the style of that content changes based on the device’s screen size. By adjusting the style based on the visitor’s screen width, the website is able to maintain a neat UI (user interface) that suits the device that it’s being rendered on, as well as make sure that the UX (user experience) is consistent.

Most websites built today will be created with a responsive design – even WordPress site building plugins and themes like Divi or Elementor will allow you to create a responsive website with their drag-and-drop interfaces. One thing is clear though, for any business that wants their users to have a good and consistent experience across their devices, a responsive design on your website and applications is a must – if you don’t, visitors might choose to shop elsewhere or never be able to find you in the first place!

The rise of remote work

Whether it’s because of a re-evaluation of work/life balance, or being able to forgo a long commute, there has been a surge in people looking for remote work opportunities. As reported by Forbes8, data scientists at Ladders, a job search organisation based in the US, have projected that 25% of all professional jobs in the US will be remote by the end of 2022. This trend is also occurring on our side of the pond, with three in four workers believing that post Covid-19, their employers are more likely to support work from home than before the pandemic9.

For organisations that choose to adapt, this shift can not only provide benefits for employees, but also benefit the organisation’s bottom line. Being able to avoid the costs typically associated with having staff on site, greater willingness to work longer hours due to reduced commutes, and increased mental well-being amongst staff are just some of the benefits to this approach.

Like most things however, this new trend also presents new challenges. The growth in remote working has placed greater emphasis on developing strategies for maintaining a professional work environment, as working from home may make it harder for some staff to separate work from home life. In addition, keeping employees engaged with one another will be an important aspect for maintaining a strong team spirit – setting up communication platforms such as Zoom, Teams, or Slack, for staff to keep in touch will be an important move towards that end.

Overall, with research from the Harvard Business Review10 showing that potentially 40% of US employees would start looking for another job if forced to return full time – it’s likely that many businesses will instead look to use a hybrid model moving forward.

Wrapping up

Over the past few years, many businesses have had it rough - with the pandemic, lockdowns, and now international politics causing turbulence and instability for everyone. However, even with these challenges, there are opportunities for growth. 

Along the way, it’s our plan to keep you informed on those opportunities and how you can leverage them to grow your business this new financial year and beyond!

Sources:

1 How can enterprises avoid datacentre supply chain issues affecting IT upgrades? <https://www.computerweekly.com/feature/How-can-enterprises-avoid-datacentre-supply-chain-issues-affecting-IT-upgrades>

2 Four Critical Risks To Watch As Experts Predict A Cyber Cold War <https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/05/23/four-critical-risks-to-watch-as-experts-predict-a-cyber-cold-war/?sh=1752b8b93989>

3 Almost half of Australian cyber-attacks hit SMEs <https://www.businessaustralia.com/resources/news/almost-half-of-australian-cyber-attacks-hit-smes

4 Australia’s eCommerce market is growing rapidly <https://www.trade.gov/market-intelligence/australia-ecommerce#:~:text=Australia's%20eCommerce%20market%20is%20growing,3%20billion%20by%202024>

5 3 digital trends for small businesses to follow in 2022 <https://business.gov.au/news/3-digital-trends-for-small-businesses-to-follow-in-2022>

6 Mobile Web Traffic Statistics <https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/mobile-web-traffic-statistics/>

7 Why Google Favors Responsive Design for SEO <https://syreo.com/responsive-website-design-google-search-seo/>

8 Remote Work Is Here To Stay And Will Increase Into 2023, Experts Say <https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2022/02/01/remote-work-is-here-to-stay-and-will-increase-into-2023-experts-say/?sh=6cfee32420a6>

9 Australians want to work from home more post-COVID <https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/09/28/australians-want-to-work-from-home-more-post-covid.html>

10 Don’t Force People to Come Back to the Office Full Time <https://hbr.org/2021/08/dont-force-people-to-come-back-to-the-office-full-time>

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