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Let’s Talk: What are some of the top SME tech trends to get you ready for 2023?

Being able to operate in today’s ever-changing climate is becoming more and more difficult for many businesses. Thankfully, they are being created to help organisations survive and prosper during these trying times.

Knowing the top technology trends for 2023 is possibly the most critical step you can take to ensure your firm is ready for short-term success. Admittedly, you’ll fall behind if you don’t prepare your business for the newest technological advancements as soon as the new year starts.

In light of this, let’s look at some of the major tech trends for 2023, as indicated by our experts in this week’s edition of Let’s Talk.

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Colin Birney, Head of Business Development, Australia, Square

Colin Birney
Colin Birney, Head of Business Development, Australia, Square

“Technology has been the saviour for many businesses over the past couple of years, and we fully expect technology adoption to remain a key trend into 2023.

“Omnichannel commerce has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have, and we see continued investment in building omnichannel experiences. It’s critical that businesses of all shapes and sizes can sell wherever their customers shop — be it on social media, via an online store, or in person. For retailers, that means looking at new places to sell your wares; for restaurants that could mean building new revenue streams to build greater resilience.

“Along with building omnichannel commerce capabilities, automation will become even more important for businesses next year.

“Staff shortages have plagued most industries – particularly those in hospitality and retail – and led to a shift toward great automation adoption so that impacted businesses can do more with less. We’ve seen restaurants automating inventory tracking to reduce admin hours and allow their staff to focus on providing the best service for diners; retailers and beauty businesses automating their marketing so that they can delight their customers with birthday offers or incentives to return.

“Technology will continue to help businesses start, run, and grow in 2023. However, as businesses rely on more technology, they’ll need to ensure they don’t become overwhelmed by too many vendors. Selecting one technology partner that can solve multiple issues will help reduce vendor-management burden.”

Nicola Ayan, Director of Technology and Growth, APJ, Optimizely

Nicola Ayan
Nicola Ayan, Director of Technology and Growth, APJ, Optimizely

“As we prepare for 2023, it’s important that we all stay alert to current technology trends. By looking ahead, businesses can deliver ROI, stand out from the competition and unlock their digital potential.

“Moving into the new year, more businesses will be implementing technologies, like digital experience platforms (DXP), that help bolster creativity and collaboration in remote working environments. It’s no secret that since the pandemic, there’s been a preference for more flexible and hybrid roles. Businesses will therefore rely on agile and flexible technology in 2023, like DXPs, to drive and inspire innovative ideas in hybrid working environments.

“In 2023, SMEs will also continue leveraging AI capabilities to power features like personalisation and recommendations. It’s important for businesses to build genuine relationships with customers across multiple touchpoints to ensure that they are keeping up with rapidly evolving customer expectations. By using data-driven insights to create deeply personalised digital experiences, businesses can attract new customers in the new year, while also continuing to build long-term customer loyalty.”

Tyler Moffitt, Sr. Security Analyst, OpenText Security Solutions

Tyler Moffitt
Tyler Moffitt, Sr. Security Analyst, OpenText Security Solutions

“Cyber criminals continue to evolve their tactics as demonstrated in this year’s Nastiest Malware list, leaving the infosec community in a constant state of catch-up. No person, no business—regardless of size—is immune to these threats which makes the push to encompass more cyber tech infrastructure a top trend for SMEs going into 2023.

“Criminals are constantly developing new ways to attack networks and take advantage of employee trust to steal data. Smaller businesses may think they are not a target, but that could not be further from the truth. According to OpenText Security Solutions’ 2022 BrightCloud Threat Report, SMEs are more prone to breaches since they lack the IT infrastructure and highly trained cybersecurity professionals that larger enterprises are equipped with, and still have enough cash in the bank to pay a ransom making them a high ROI target.

“To sustainably grow their businesses and avoid hefty fines and damages due to a security breach, SMEs need to improve their cybersecurity posture. This includes implementing levels of access control and investing in reliable endpoint security that can mitigate modern attacks. Complementing technology with security awareness training, including phishing simulation, can greatly minimize risky employee IT behaviours that lead to security compromises.”

Kristyn Wallace, Vice President APJ, Emarsys

Kristyn Wallace
Kristyn Wallace, Vice President APJ, Emarsys

“While artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are already being used to make automated decisions based on collected data, the push towards widespread adoption within a small business’ processes, specifically in marketing initiatives, will continue into 2023.

“AI technologies improve the role of marketers by eliminating manual hours when analysing customer behaviour – helping marketers to effectively engage anywhere, personalise everywhere and reach anyone. This technology can make intelligent recommendations and suggestions for the best course of action the marketer should take to generate further leads and boost sales and, with the incoming recession and cost-of-living nipping at the heels of consumers, having AI implemented into brand campaigns will enable marketers to assess consumer sentiment towards incentives offered – including discounts, free delivery, or free returns.

“Coming into 2023, there needs to be a mindset shift amongst small-medium enterprises when utilising this type of technology. Thinking of AI technologies as an added mind or team member to marketing efforts can improve business outcomes, elevates process efficiencies, and establish greater customer retention.”

Ayaan Mohamud, Regional Vice President Marketing, APAC, impact.com

Ayaan Mohamud
Ayaan Mohamud, Regional Vice President Marketing, APAC, impact.com

“We’re seeing an increasing number of SME’s embrace partnership management technology in order to scale their affiliate and partnership activity.

“Faced with rising performance marketing costs from Facebook and Google – and coupled with a declining tolerance for intrusive digital ads – small business owners are realising how lucrative partnership marketing activities can be.

“A partnership management platform means SME’s can automate all aspects of their affiliate and partnership activity – from finding the right partner, through to contracting, managing, paying and reporting. This means you can do a lot with very little and manage all kinds of partners from influencers, through to brands, charities, traditional affiliate partners, cash-back sites, content publishers and; well, the list goes on and on!

“For example, we work with eco-friendly cleaning and body care company Zero Co, and just one part-time person is able to manage their entire Sustainable Stays program using the automation features built into our partnership management platform.”

Chris McNamara, Chief Revenue Officer, Remote

Chris McNamara
Chris McNamara, Chief Revenue Officer, Remote

“Against the backdrop of slowing global growth in 2023, we’re anticipating growing demand for remote and distributed work models.

“We’re expecting emerging category leaders to turn to the global talent market as a growth hack. Rather than calling for a “return to the office” and the associated limitations to talent acquisition, progressive businesses will unblock their talent pipeline by tapping new markets in non-traditional locations.

“Previously, only large companies had the resources to undertake the legal and financial burden of retaining international teams.  Through new platforms like Remote, both large and small companies can hire anyone, anywhere by relying upon the expertise and infrastructure that has already been established to employ teams internationally on their behalf.  This means they can find specialised talent, enter new markets, increase the diversity of their team, have round-the-clock client coverage, and scale up more cost-effectively.

“Managing international teams is not without challenges – but the benefits of remote and distributed work models on employee satisfaction, productivity and retention are undeniable.  For any company where knowledge work is at the core, these advantages are only amplified within the context of a more challenging macro environment.”

Charlie DeWitt, managing director, ANZ/SEA, UKG

Charlie DeWitt, managing director, ANZ/SEA, UKG

“In 2023, there will be a continuation in the demand for, and availability of, business software and applications that emulate consumer-grade offerings that are intuitive, easy to use, and require little to no training to bring employees up to speed.

“We will also see the continued evolution of artificial intelligence in technology solutions that help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) solve key challenges in areas such as advanced rostering and approvals for roster and leave requests. Continuous automation, the consolidation of systems, and interoperability across systems ensures that technology solutions talk to each other and share the right information. The next evolution of data analytics takes this one step further whereby SMEs can get the most out of their data and harness it for better decision making. For workforce management solutions, this includes understanding how people impact the business beyond labour costs and absenteeism, drilling even deeper into how they can drive sales in retail or provide better patient care in healthcare, for example.

“The final trend is continued investment in an integrated, automated strategy that positions human capital management data as the source of truth that flows into workforce management systems and payroll for improved compliance and employee experiences.”

Shaye Thyer, Head of Accounting, Intuit QuickBooks

Shaye Thyer
Shaye Thyer, Head of Accounting, Intuit QuickBooks

“Technology is here to make life easier. SME’s can embrace transformative technologies like e-commerce, e-finance and e-learning, to ensure they have the tools and solutions to stay ahead of the curve and maximise every minute of every working day.

“Digitising your business and using cloud accounting software can help you save valuable time and stress, as well as give you important analysis, reminders and records. For example, you can use software to track your mileage on-the-go, upload receipts automatically through an app, see a dashboard of your finances and receive notifications on your phone to remind you to chase payments.

“As our lives move increasingly online, SME’s must be supported to adapt and build resilience through digital transformation and streamlined processes. Digitising also helps you access support from your trusted advisors, like your accountant or bookkeeper far more efficiently, so that you can capitalise on their expertise more seamlessly.”

Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

“The ongoing skills shortage – coupled with increased consumer demands – has dramatically affected the way businesses work. We’re seeing leaders placing more focus on efficiency right now, and anticipate this trend to continue into 2023.

“The first trend we foresee is ongoing investments in automation. Many businesses have deployed AI-powered software over the past two-plus years to streamline business processes. Savvy leaders will take the learnings gained and apply them in targeted ways that provide breakthrough value for their businesses.

“Secondly, most experts are forecasting continued weaker consumer demand next year. We anticipate that the businesses that will successfully navigate this period will be those that are fully committed to delivering satisfying experiences for their customers – both across B2B and B2C. This may require deeper integration across business areas, with finance, marketing and sales working more closely together to identify, support and convert buying opportunities. Technology that ‘un-siloes’ these functions and provides a single source of truth will be essential to this integration.”

Matthew Thomson, Sr. Vice President Software & Solution Sales, APJ, Kofax

Matthew Thomson
Matthew Thomson, Sr. Vice President Software & Solution Sales, APJ, Kofax

“With the skills shortages continuing in many sectors, rising interest rates, and inflationary pressures taking a bite out of profits, efficiencies will be the watchword for many SMEs in 2023. Traditionally, many SMEs have been slow to embrace automation, viewing it as a tool for the big end of town. However, with more than half of businesses in Australia now using some kind of paid cloud, it paves the way for them to deploy intelligent automation when it previously may have been cost prohibitive.

“Employing intelligent document processing to tame their unstructured data will drive competitive advantage for players of all size, freeing up resources in the business to use their time more efficiently and deliver innovation.”

Gerald Faust, managing director and CEO, Asia Pacific & Middle East, SNP Group

Gerald Faust
Gerald Faust, managing director and CEO, Asia Pacific & Middle East, SNP Group

“As the global deadline to carbon net zero draws closer, and with the Australian government’s commitment to a 43 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies will only grow in popularity in 2023 and beyond.

“Setting ESG goals at an organisational level is one thing but, to really drive meaningful change, businesses must invest in technology that puts data at the heart of decision making. Solutions that provide accurate, real-time reporting and insights will allow for more data-driven, sustainable choices that propel businesses towards their ESG goals.

“Cloud-based technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), can integrate external databases and collect valuable real-time data to translate into actionable insights. For example, AI can accurately assign values for emissions per product, empowering SMEs to identify and improve operations and provide more sustainable options for customers. This is critical to support customers that place increased importance on sustainable choices. Beyond this, implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that integrates data and best practice processes will also help businesses to better manage their carbon footprint while simultaneously reducing material waste and achieving social sustainability.”

Bill Zeng, Senior Director, APAC, Poly

Bill Zeng
Bill Zeng, Senior Director, APAC, Poly

“The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed the way businesses and employees approach work – and while we expect to see the continued adoption of hybrid and flexible working policies, we predict that 2023 will see a greater number of SMEs focusing on getting a strong contingent of staff back to the office. After all, face-to-face collaboration is shown to facilitate learning, productivity, and innovation, so ensuring a strong mix of both remote and in-office working is the only way to achieve hybrid working success.

“Because of this, collaboration technologies will be more important in 2023 than ever before. Technology choices must enable all staff to have the same level of productivity and professionalism, no matter where they’re working. In 2023, professional grade collaboration will need to be a priority for all workers – technologies such as high-definition audio and video, speaker framing, digital whiteboarding, and seamless content sharing between devices will help ensure staff can collaborate from wherever they choose to work. But more than simply enabling collaboration, improving the office experience by implementing cutting edge technologies – such as transforming meeting spaces into integrated video conferencing experiences – can help to entice workers back into the office.”

Sam Salehi, Sales Director for Pacific, Trustwave

Sam Salehi
Sam Salehi, Sales Director for Pacific, Trustwave

“Cyberthreats have become increasingly pervasive, and no industry in Australia should consider themselves immune. As such, cybersecurity is likely to remain top of mind for businesses into the foreseeable future. Cyberthreats aren’t just increasing in frequency, they’re becoming more sophisticated and advanced than ever before. It’s no longer good enough to be reactive; organisations must be constantly vigilant and ready for immediate response.

“To combat threats and better protect infrastructure in 2023, it will be critical to be aware of potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited. The simplest and most effective method for organisations to prevent against opportunistic attacks is to adopt comprehensive, regular security testing program for your infrastructure and information assets.

“A penetration test is an authorised cyberattack that can proactively identify known and unknown threats, vulnerabilities, and cybersecurity risks to digital processes and technology. Regularly conducting penetration testing will provide invaluable insight into a company’s defences from a hacker’s perspective and may identify areas that have been overlooked or hard to spot.”

Elise Balsillie, Head of Thryv Australia

Elise Balsillie
Elise Balsillie, Head of Thryv Australia

“Implementing a rigid cybersecurity strategy to safeguard business security and customer data will be a top SME technology trend next year.

“Cybercriminals don’t discriminate by business size. Cyberattacks are serious business for small companies. They often result in identity theft or the loss of company data, both incredibly damaging to a small business. Worst-case scenarios can include devastating disclosures of customers’ personal information.

“Now more than ever, small businesses need to have a cybersecurity strategy and action plan in place. Regardless off the size of the business, hackers want data. Whether that’s your customer data, health records or credit card information.

“Adopting successful processes in 2023 will help keep your business out of the danger zone. Be sure to evaluate the technology your business uses, keep software updated, and create a risk management plan that includes training your employees to help combat a cyberattack.”

Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAC, Oracle Construction and Engineering

Callan Mantell
Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAC, Oracle Construction and Engineering

“Like in many other industries, supply chain issues in construction and engineering are substantially impacting schedules and costs. In addition, the hefty cost of materials used for construction projects is forcing owners to rethink how they manage materials.

“According to 2022 Zippia research, only 6% of companies report full visibility on their supply chain, while 69% of companies do not have total visibility. We are seeing a significant shift as businesses look to the latest in construction technology, like the Smart Construction Platform, to gain supply chain visibility, and help diagnose and understand disruptions.

“These technologies can provide the backbone for owners and delivery team’s, creating a vital single source of truth that help manage uncertainty by controlling time, cost, safety, quality, and more. By ensuring that all stakeholders of a project are seeing the most up-to-date information and leveraging forward-looking insights through predictive analytics, teams can respond in a more timely and collaborative manner than ever before possible.”

Kelly Johnson, Country Manager, Australia, ESET

Kelly Johnson
Kelly Johnson, Country Manager, Australia, ESET

“As technology evolves, so do cyber threats and the criminal groups behind the breaches. Changes to technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), that enable increased numbers of devices to be connected to your home and business systems, means more gateways for malware to creep into systems. So there will be a focus on security to stay ahead of the threats.

“We’ll see technology such as 5G changing the way businesses interact with the physical world, and the emergence of ‘The Unreal’, where business and personal environments are engaged with machines and AI, such as robotics and automatons  – that are more human-like than machine.

“There will be continuation of digital transformation, cloud computing and work management tools, and the continuation of blockchain technology.

“It’s important to note that new technology solutions and services across your business that are deployed to mitigate cyber threats, need to be supported by an overarching strategy to govern and manage those solutions effectively.”

Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President, Salesforce

Merlin Luck
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President, Salesforce

“As the cost of doing business rises, SMBs will need to look for ways to optimise their business operations to maintain healthy margins. A key part of this will be seeing what value they can drive from their existing tech stack, as well as looking at new investments in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning to create efficiencies, boost productivity and drive business value faster.

“Bittn Pest Control, for example, is using Salesforce to automate its business processes which has supported its growth. It’s now looking at how it can leverage AI-capabilities through Salesforce Einstein Vision, which will allow the business to diagnose problems remotely using AI.

“While customer acquisition will be important, small businesses also need to focus on ways to retain their existing customers by creating experiences that reflect a deep understanding of their customer’s unique preferences – something easier said than done in today’s data-driven world. In the year ahead more and more SMBs will need to adopt a CRM that unifies data from across different silos, including sales, service, commerce and marketing, into a single platform. Only then will they be able to deliver hyperpersonalised experiences that today’s customers expect.”

Jornt Moerland, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, Mendix

Jornt Moerland
Jornt Moerland, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, Mendix

“While the term ‘democratisation’ might be a little trite these days, the broad trend we see making the greatest impact for SMBs is the adoption of technologies that were once only available to large enterprises. For example, we’ve seen businesses of all sizes adopt AI-based tools to help support them through supply chain disruptions, skills shortages, workflow digitization and customer experience enhancement these past few years. We’ve also seen SMBs adopt out-of-the-box solutions, like Shopify, that can essentially do for them what a dedicated team might do in an enterprise.

“We believe the next frontier is smaller businesses developing their own business software or applications. While in the past this would have required a in-house development team or external IT services – a luxury for any SMB – low- and no-code tools are providing a route to smaller businesses to create the software solutions they need for their businesses to thrive.

“Using model-driven development, low-code platforms offer a range of intuitive features like drag-and-drop components to allow even non-technical professionals to create impactful software solutions. The power of low-code is that it empowers SMEs to utilize existing talent to build and deliver apps faster without incurring heavy costs – especially during a talent shortage that will likely continue as demand for tech workers strips supply.”

Peter Philipp, General Manager ANZ, Neo4j

Peter Philipp
Peter Philipp, General Manager ANZ, Neo4j

“For Australia, the overarching tech theme for 2023 is connected data. Within that, digital twin technologies will increasingly transform how companies design and manufacture products, as well as how businesses deliver customer experiences.

“Ethics and trust around AI remain a concern. One trend we’ll see is graph technology being used to build trust in the algorithms shaping the future. This will involve ensuring data is authentic, diverse, and not manipulated, and making AI predictions easier to trace and explain. Predictions will improve, and models will become more flexible.

“The skills shortage and developer shortage will remain a tough challenge for SMEs in particular, given smaller budgets and fewer resources. In response, we predict that no code/low code and citizen developers may help solve the shortage.”

Amanda Norelli, Head of Data, Tic:Toc

Amanda Norelli
Amanda Norelli, Head of Data, Tic:Toc

“Technology trends shaping the new year will point to a common goal: humanising a digital-first world. Companies that concurrently embrace digital and provide excellent customer service are already in the lead.

“One of the trends we will continue to see is how technology helps to optimise operations. By leveraging AI and increasing data literacy across the workforce, businesses can tap into deeper consumer insights. In turn, businesses can scale their products and services in ways that will genuinely benefit the consumer, rather than adopting a one size fits all approach. Most importantly, this cannot be at the sacrifice of data security. The safety of customers’ personal information must be a top priority.

“2023 presents new opportunities for small to medium sized enterprises to pioneer success. This success will not come from technology adoption alone. Businesses need to look at combining the power of humans and technology to better connect and understand customer needs, all while increasing efficiency in operations and reducing costs.”

Leon Gilbert, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Unisys

Leon Gilbert
Leon Gilbert, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Unisys

“The pandemic has shifted the way people work. As this year was marked by the adjustment phase that made organisations reassess what a new hybrid environment should look like, 2023 will be the year when the digital-first, flexible work model is established as a norm.

“Moving forward, employee experience will be top of mind for businesses – big or small –and definitely a priority for leaders. Employees’ expectations have shifted. They want more than ever to work with a company that will set them up for success with more collaborative tools and personalized support in this new flexible model. Amid economic volatility and talent shortages, organisations must adapt to keep a high level of workforce engagement and productivity – and fostering an effective digital workplace will be critical for that.

“Organisations need to take a holistic approach to the new work model, committing to empower staff to do their jobs effectively. In 2023, we will see an increasing investment in digital workplace solutions that will ensure workers are well equipped and connected in a secure and stable digital environment, providing a stellar user experience no matter where they are.”

Jonathan Ryan, Head of ANZ Region, Infobip

Jonathan Ryan
Jonathan Ryan, Head of ANZ Region, Infobip

“Omnichannel strategy is one of the growing top technology trends of the year and it’s expected to rapidly evolve in 2023.

“But what is omnichannel and how can small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) ensure continuous customer growth and increased satisfaction? For SMEs, there never seem to be enough hours in the day. To help make the most of your time and budget, digital marketing enables you to make it easy for local customers to find you while also establishing your brand and new business promotion.

“An omnichannel focused strategy delivers deeper customer engagement across the widest selection of local and global channels, including SMS, RCS, WhatsApp, voice, video, email and the most popular chat apps to create personalised omnichannel customer connections.

“At Infobip, we’ve identified how you as an SME can enhance your communications with a fully integrated contact centre, enable marketing automation, and chatbot building solutions which are informed by our customer data platform to personalise your content, messaging and more.

“In the age of growing customer dissatisfaction with clogged voicemails, lack of accessibility to technology and the move from traditional brick-and-mortar physical stores to an online presence, you need to position your customers first and be consistent across all platforms. Also consider pain points that come from B2B and B2C marketing across all platforms. How will you respond quickly and professionally to a customer or consumer complaint while remaining personable?

“Omnichannel marketing lets brands communicate with customers across multiple channels. It eliminates repeated, inconsistent, and irrelevant messages and means you can select the right message in the right channel at the right time.”

Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce

Marcus McNamara
Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce

“In 2023, we will continue to witness more SMEs make digital transformation a key strategic priority. This is partially in response to a second ongoing trend for 2023: talent shortages. While SMEs continue to experience slower hiring cycles and challenges in employee retention, investing in the right tooling to automate and streamline business processes will be a key element to ensure healthy growth.

“That’s where we see integrated e-commerce continuing to grow in exponential ways for SMEs in 2023. Not only does an integrated e-commerce platform ensure companies have a proactive, always-on sales channel, it also empowers your existing teams to work systematically and strategically to hit their goals.

“Additionally, we also expect to see more experimental approaches to digital transformation within SMEs in Australia and New Zealand in the new year: think along the lines of artificial intelligence (AI), virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR), and stronger, more secure network protocols.”

Andrew Wilkinson, Chief Information & Technology Officer,Deep Blue Company

Andrew Wilkinson
Andrew Wilkinson, Chief Information & Technology Officer,Deep Blue Company

“When you think of the traditional ‘sale-to-settlement’ section of the property industry, you could be forgiven for not automatically associating it with advancements in technology. From building inspections to conveyancing legal services, the process has traditionally been littered with a paper trail, making the sale-to-settlement journey cumbersome and complex.

“With advancements in technology spurred on by the global pandemic, the property journey has begun to transform. Today, firms large and small are embracing technology at scale, creating a future built on both physical and digital assets. The rise of the Metaverse presents companies with a diverse array of opportunities, especially when it comes to engaging with Gen Z home-buyers and reimagining operations for a digital-first future.

“The Metaverse might feel intimidating to some, but change ultimately breeds innovation. Blockchain has the potential to alter how consumers interact with everything around them, from the products they use to the real estate they hold. . The early adopters of alternative technologies like digital real estate assets will ultimately reap the rewards in the long run and will spearhead a domino effect of innovation in the property industry.”

Garrett O’Hara, CTO APAC, Mimecast

Garrett O’Hara
Garrett O’Hara, CTO APAC, Mimecast

“With recent high-profile attacks, there’s no doubt that cybersecurity and using the latest tech to combat cybercrime should be on the top of SME’s agendas as we move into a new year – in fact, commencing a new year is even more of a reason to audit processes and implement change.

“According to Mimecast’s 2022 State of Ransomware Readiness report 70 per cent of Australian cyber security leaders say the number of cyber-attacks against their company has increased since last year, and it’s concerning to see one in five Australian businesses reporting six or more ransomware attacks in the past year – higher than any other country surveyed.

“To avoid becoming a statistic, and with email remaining a vital communication tool for many SME’s, they need to utilise technology that provides strong defence and helps prevent any malicious activity, as remote/hybrid work continues to be the trend in 2023. Multi-factor authentication and use of biometrics are a couple of techniques SME’s can put in place quickly. They should ensure all devices are secure with endpoint security in place. SME’s also might consider working with a trusted IT service provider to manage all the requirements, allowing business to operate safely and smoothly.”

Greg Newham, Director, Verizon Connect

Greg Newham
Greg Newham, Director, Verizon Connect

“The development of new technologies is changing the day-to-day operations for SMEs. As many small businesses in critical industries depend on vehicle fleets to carry out business, one of the top technology trends emerging in 2023 are connected technologies which have the potential to lead to a safer driving experience and road usage. The Boston Consulting Group predicts, connected vehicles will make up 53 per cent of all road traffic by 2025.

“One connected technology, telematics, allows fleet managers to gain visibility over driver behaviour to monitor safe work practices and road usage. These technologies also provide benefits to drivers themselves, including better traffic route navigation to meet delivery deadlines as well as using data insights to notify drivers of potential fatigue before it becomes dangerous. These insights from connected technologies and sensor-based data all work in concert to provide a smoother and safer driving experience and less frustration due to traffic congestion and unexpected dangerous road conditions.

“On a larger scale, over time connected technologies will start to include traffic management system integration with entire fleets and general passenger vehicles, enhancing overall safety conditions for all drivers and ease road congestion and be a must have for any SME with a fleet to manage.”

Michael Downey, Marketing Director ANZ, Jabra

Michael Downey
Michael Downey, Marketing Director ANZ, Jabra

“Increased inflation, pandemic uncertainty, and the shift from remote work to in-and-out of the office has impacted everyone’s day-to-day lives. These external factors have also changed what customers need from businesses and brands, and SMEs need to turn towards technology that empower they hybrid workforce.

“Jabra’s Hybrid Ways of Working report shows high collaborating employees (employees that send over half their time in meetings) see their home offices as the better place for meetings opposed to in the office. Given this, establishing genuine human connection with hybrid technology, such as external enterprise-grade headsets, will evoke meeting equity within virtual environments. Enterprise-grade headsets don’t just ensure clear communication on calls, but they are also certified on UC platforms which allows for seamless collaboration experiences for high collaborators.

“Hybrid work isn’t going away in 2023, so small business leaders need to equip their hybrid-working employees with external devices that promote autonomy, efficiencies, and resilience.”

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

“The digitalisation of small businesses will continue to be of utmost importance next year, as new tech emerges which could optimise operations and output. With that in mind, here are four trends that SMEs should be aware of in 2023.

“5G technology will become more widespread, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections, especially for regional areas. So don’t forget to consider these customers.

“Energy consumption is set to go up by 43 percent next year, so look for ways to ensure your business is energy efficient and operating sustainably. This will be vital for businesses next year.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will become more commonplace, helping businesses to automate tasks and make better decisions. Look into how you might be able to use AI to improve your services or products for your customers. Enhanced chatbots and predicting your sales pipeline are a great example of how AI is already assisting businesses.

“Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will become more common in businesses, for training and marketing purposes and to enhance the customer experience. Platforms similar to the Metaverse will also be harnessed more, to showcase products and services, so explore how your business might harness emerging tech to reach new audiences.”

Vinay Rao, Chief Technology Officer, Till Payments

Vinay Rao
Vinay Rao, Chief Technology Officer, Till Payments

“With a variety of technology available to SMEs, implementing tech that provides positive customer experiences while driving insights for action and growth are the top two trends that will gain momentum in 2023.

“Retailers have seen a drastic shift in behaviours post pandemic causing them to rethink their traditional approach to customer interaction, becoming agile to adapt to multi-channel interaction approaches. For example, making online purchases and in-store returns effortless creates a ‘unified commerce’ experience, meaning customers are more likely to shop with you again, as you make their purchasing journey easy. In addition to a multi-channel interaction approach, implementing data driven insights is a must for SMEs.

“As businesses grow, they will begin to invest time in future proofed growth strategies. Having a view on data points that can help facilitate their growth and decision making is an area SMEs will need to focus on. Amidst the challenging economic times ahead, SMEs need to leverage tech to provide a blend of seamless customer experience and data to fuel business growth.”

Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion ANZ, Deel

Shannon Karaka
Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion ANZ, Deel

“Although the past year has been challenging for SMEs, it has also been a great learning curve for business leaders to adopt new ways to overcome business challenges. The skills shortage and growing cost of hiring has been a huge hurdle for many organisations, which was also faced by growing demand and expectations from consumers, and this  is likely to continue into 2023.

“To help overcome this challenge, many Aussie businesses turned to global hiring in order to access a wider talent pool in a cost efficient way. Deel’s H2 Global Hiring Report found Australia is the APAC country with the most organisations hiring overseas remote workers.

“Lyre’s, a producer of premium non-alcoholic drinks founded by two Aussies, struggled to acquire talent amidst a skills shortage. With demand increasing (thanks in part to a $500m valuation), the team at Lyre’s turned to overseas hiring to fulfill a global role. When doing this, they required entities in each country to have new team members on board. When hiring across the globe, businesses need to be in line with payroll and compliance requirements, which can often be made the easier through the use of technology platforms such as Deel.”

Milan Cooper, CEO, First AML

Milan Cooper
Milan Cooper, CEO, First AML

“As the global and local economy become more volatile in 2023, SMEs face a tough challenge. They need to survive in the short term, build long term resilience and deliver value in a world of decreasing returns.

“But they also need to meet increasing regulatory requirements and spiraling customer and employee expectations around ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors.

“Looking across our global customer base we see a common approach to addressing these challenges; specialist technology. This is especially true in the risk and compliance space.

“Companies have been burnt by using technology or suppliers that don’t keep abreast of the rapid changes in legislation and regulation. Hefty fines and reputational damage is increasingly, and very publicly, the result.

“So because of these macro trends, in 2023, we expect to see regulatory requirements around AML (anti money laundering) expand to both Australian SMEs and larger enterprises. The only way for SMEs to meet these requirements, survive and thrive is to use technology, lessening  the burden by completing specialist tasks faster, cheaper, and more effectively.”

Chris Smith, ANZ alliance and partner manager, M-Files

Chris Smith
Chris Smith, ANZ alliance and partner manager, M-Files

“In 2023, security will continue to be the top priority for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who will need to consider how they are best protecting their information and their customers’ personally identifiable information (PII). Deploying a document management solution that distinguishes business-critical data and sensitive information such as PII will help SMEs understand their level of risk and avoid unknowingly breaching requirements by appropriately managing customer data.

“Flexible work arrangements will likely remain popular, providing continued opportunities for employees to work together productively and efficiently. Establishing a single source of truth to increase collaborative efforts and remain compliant will be more important than ever. Secure, easy-to-use software that acts as a seamless extension of a company will be essential to intelligently manage documents.

“SMEs will also need to prioritise automating critical business processes as part of their digitisation journey. Leveraging tools such as artificial intelligence will help SMEs manage the movement of information around the business via an electronic workflow. By automating workflow processes, businesses will experience enhanced time efficiency, a reduced chance for human error, and easier auditability of standardised processes.”

Dobek Bociarski, APAC Product Lead, GoTo

Dobek Bociarski
Dobek Bociarski, APAC Product Lead, GoTo

“As we look forward to 2023, economic instability looms. A recent GoTo survey found that 79 per cent of Australian business leaders believe a recession will occur within the next 6 months. Australian SMEs will look to tighten up their expenditure during this period, so investing in the right technology to allow employees to stay connected without blowing tech budgets will be key.

“A strong connection in an organisation provides stability, trust, and collaboration. 77 per cent of Australian business leaders believe making sure employees are connected to IT is vital for employees to deliver their best work. Furthermore, to offset budgeting limitations during a recession, SMEs believe the consolidation of technology, adopting IT automation and accelerating the movement to cloud software will provide the greatest budget relief.

“Technological solutions that remain affordable, collaborative and can answer multiple services or needs will become invaluable for SMEs, especially as a recession potentially approaches.”

Lloyd Evans, Head of Identity, APAC, LastPass

Lloyd Evans, Head of Identity, APAC, LastPass

“Australian SMEs have been struggling to sustain their businesses over the past few years with global economic uncertainty, severe talent shortages and major spikes in cybercrime creating an unpredictable and unstable future. To gain control in these uncertain times, SMEs need to break free from outdated practices and leverage technology to not only future-proof their business but rapidly accelerate their level of success.

“In the space of one month, we have seen a long list of major Australian companies at the mercy of a cyberattack. While these attacks have resulted in extensive amounts of data being breached, this is a strong wake up call for Australian SMEs of just how vulnerable they are to these data breaches and why they need to make cybersecurity their number one priority.

“Unlike larger enterprises, SMEs often have far less sophisticated cyber protection. Coupled with the severe lack of cyber talent, it’s almost impossible to develop and maintain an effective cybersecurity strategy. However, having limited budget or resources does not absolve an SME of the responsibility to protect their customers’ and employees’ data. In saying this, SMEs need to consider leveraging emerging technologies that can provide more secure and protective solutions. A pin and password are no longer adequate for protection to company data. Instead, passwordless capabilities are looking to grow in 2023. Employing these solutions can eliminate the potential point of failure that a password possesses and prevents threat actors from targeting users with credential-based attacks we have seen recently. This can not only increase productivity by reducing employee workloads, but it creates a user friendly and streamlined experience.”

David Lenz, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Arcserve

David Lenz, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Arcserve

“As cybercriminals continue their assault on Australian organisations, SMEs must safeguard their data while managing lean resources in the current business environment. Arcserve’s survey found that only 25% of all Australia and New Zealand SMEs are very confident in their ability to recover lost data in the event of a ransomware attack.

“For 2023, SMEs must be laser-focused on making tech investments that will bring impactful results.

  • Invest in curative measures – Stop focusing entirely on the prevention of attacks. Backup & recovery and immutable storage will allow SMEs to quickly restore their data and avoid paying the ransom when attackers break in. Regular data backups and encryption play a key role in protecting an organisation’s data. A consistent backup schedule will enable you to restore any compromised systems or data seamlessly.
  • Put a disaster-recovery plan in place – SMEs need to prepare for the possibility of getting hit. They need to be able to back up data as often as is appropriate—ideally every 15 minutes for critical data – and easily verify that the whole environment is backed up, including remote workers and any SaaS applications in use. The best approach is a multilayered one that includes educating staff, investing in reliable data backup & recovery and immutable storage solutions, and having a robust disaster recovery plan.
  • Managed Service Providers (MSP) bring skills to the table – With the ongoing shortage of cybersecurity professionals, SMEs will be challenged in attracting cybersecurity personnel. One of the most effective solutions is with an MSP partner, who can fill specific internal skill gaps and provide close data protection support. Good MSPs also offer data-management capabilities like data tiering, helping an SME save money on data storage while avoiding damage to its essential data.”

Spiro Rokos, CTO and co-founder, Slyp

Spiro Rokos
Spiro Rokos, CTO and co-founder, Slyp

“After the tumult of 2022, one of the biggest trends we expect is around using technology to foster consumer loyalty and convenience in 2023.

“Businesses can create loyalty and convenience through innovative technologies that adapt to consumer habits, improve consumer experience and ultimately foster brand loyalty. As we enter a high-inflationary period, brand loyalty will be integral to business success, as consumers that are brand loyal are less likely to be swayed by price or availability. Look at Apple for example, 92% of their customers are brand loyal and will remain with the brand despite competition.

“Retailers are beginning to look at improving customer convenience and loyalty through innovative technologies such as digital receipts. Processing digital receipts streamlines end-of-sale processes improving convenience for both the retailer and consumer. Beyond this, data gathered in the transaction is used to analyse and predict consumer behaviours and attitudes to improve future experiences, subsequently increasing satisfaction and loyalty. So begins the cycle of tech-enabled consumer loyalty and business growth.”

Dan McHugh, Co-Founder & Director, SignManager

Dan McHugh
Dan McHugh, Co-Founder & Director, SignManager

“I think 2023 will be all about using existing technology in a smarter way. For example, I believe that for SMEs, the full power of Google Maps is yet to be unlocked.

“For brands with bricks and mortar stores, you can have the best marketing campaign and a well fit-out location with great signage – but if the customer can’t actually find you, the rest is meaningless. We’ve all experienced the frustration of following Google Maps to our destination, but still not being able to find it.

“Google Maps can only provide you with so much information, such as a street address or street view. If the main entrance is on another street, or the store is located within a shopping centre, this won’t be enough information for the customer. What we discovered is that contextual, high-quality virtual images showing the store in relation to the environment and surroundings can help the customer easily locate their final destination in the physical world. Showing the store in relation to local landmarks or points of interest will help customers find you. One of our customers experienced a 10% boost in sales once these Google Maps images were in place – an incredible result.”

Rael Ross, Co-Founder, Joint CEO and Executive Director, Butn

Rael Ross
Rael Ross, Co-Founder, Joint CEO and Executive Director, Butn

“We’re anticipating new and innovative business solutions to become more embedded within a user’s working environment – meaning product extensions, add-ons and APIs will work seamlessly together to integrate into a businesses operating environment including their accounting software, communications platform or payments system.

“Doing so will allow a customer’s data to be shared securely and effortlessly within an operating system, allowing unique and custom experiences and solutions for each user that directly meet the needs of them and their circumstances, letting users take advantage of alternative solutions that may have been previously unknown to them, all within a matter of seconds or minutes.

“One specific area in this space gaining traction is utilising the data held by the partner platform to provide funding to a mutual client. For example, the data contained within the MYOB ecosystem assists Butn in approving clients for funding lines where more data points are readily available, allowing for the approval of funds in minutes.”

Andy Reid, Director, Apollo Auctions Victoria

Andy Reid
Andy Reid, Director, Apollo Auctions Victoria

The Rise & Rise Of Accounting/Banking Integration

“I was at an industry ‘Innovate’ conference the other week, in which there was the obligatory panel conversations that were pushing various products and services. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting quite bored with tech firms clinging on to the remaining painful remnants of COVID as a reason for business owners to buy their stuff. We need to start looking to talk to and solve problems down the track as opposed to being reminded that COVID was rubbish. Money, the economy, interest rate rises and an angry old Russian fella is going to continue to cause a lot of instability for a lot of businesses in 2023. Although there is a good amount of technology in the accounting space already, I feel that a lot of SME’s will scrutinise the way in which they’re handling their cashflow and P&L, purely based on the pressures that they’ll be feeling with both. The tech that removes the most friction between a business owner and their accountant will see a huge spike in subscriptions next year, with integrations document communications getting a big kick as well.”

Aaron Hilton, CEO and founder, PowerPlay

Aaron Hilton
Aaron Hilton, CEO and founder, PowerPlay

“Through my own experience in this space, I’ve seen the power of Web3 to solve stubborn problems in a traditional business sector. Coming from a decade in renewables, I have gotten to know the strengths and weaknesses of the energy sector. The need to store solar energy for use in the evening is one, another is the fact that about 65% of the residential market cannot get solar panels because they are renters or they are in unsuitable dwellings like an apartment. Finally, there’s the energy market volatility we are seeing due to the ongoing energy transition. These are all big problems that need to be addressed but until now have been very hard to solve.

“By applying a Web3 overlay onto a traditional business model, I realised I could solve many significant and hard-to-address issues relatively easily. I became an overnight convert. There is still a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) around Web3 technology which I have experienced first-hand and is often imagined.”

Shivani Gopal, Founder, ELLADEX

Shivani Gopal
Shivani Gopal, Founder, ELLADEX

“2023 will be the year of Super-apps. In 2022, there were around 2.87 million apps available to download, and research shows that the average Apple smartphone has over 80 apps, yet only 18-19 are being used regularly. Meaning there is likely to be millions of apps out there that are doing similar things, and through a process of elimination; some will make it, some will not.

“If your business has recently invested in, or is thinking of building an app, listen up. Come 2023, it will no longer be enough to simply have ‘an app’. The reality today is that many consumers are actually using too much technology, and will be looking to simplify things.

“Super-apps aren’t ‘a thing’ in Australia yet, but they’re about to be. Super-apps provide multiple services and reduce the need for its user to flick from one to another. Super-apps can accommodate the user both commercially, and personally. This year will be about making the tech you have work harder, and smarter. On 9th November, we are launching our very own Super-app, which includes everything from live education sessions to daily habits for personal professional and financial growth. You can check it out here.”

David Britten, Managing Director APAC, Corpay

David Britten
David Britten, Managing Director APAC, Corpay

“As we look towards a new year, businesses that operate in overseas markets should be acutely aware that Australia’s growing inflation combined with volatile international currency rates may significantly impact the cost of transacting internationally.

“Therefore, it could be crucial in 2023 for businesses to invest in and implement robust fintech solutions to help navigate these added complexities efficiently. Organisations that continue to rely on traditional methods of global funds transfer could literally be giving money away through excess fees, which may impact cash flow, relationships with overseas trading partners, and ultimately the bottom line.

“One of the best ways to help minimise fees in global trades is to leverage a specialist cross-border payment solution that can help businesses maintain a competitive edge in foreign exchange transactions, simplify connections with the global marketplace, and help protect organisations against unpredictable currency fluctuations.”

Anurag Vasisth, CEO, Loyalty Now

Anurag Vasisth, CEO, Loyalty Now

“Sustainability is likely to continue as a leading trend for Australian businesses in 2023. With two out of three shoppers now identifying as a ‘belief-driven buyer’, it will be important for businesses in the retail sector to leverage technology that boosts environmentalism and sustainability to keep pace with this growing conscious consumer base.

“One way to prove this commitment is through engaging loyalty and rewards programs. However, using plastic or paper cards in a more environmentally conscious society is not only counterintuitive, but engagement is also low, with only 20 per cent of consumers reportedly using physical loyalty cards at the point of sale.

“A cheaper, more reliable, and greener way is to offer card-linked loyalty options, that make the process as seamless as possible for consumers. A sustainable loyalty program reduces plastic waste can build stronger trust with customers, streamline consumer experiences, drive business objectives.”

Ayla Fitzgibbon, Head of Technology, WE Communications Australia

Ayla Fitzgibbon
Ayla Fitzgibbon, Head of Technology, WE Communications Australia

“The past few months have shown that it is important for all businesses, not just SMBs to have a communications framework in place to address issues and crises in a proactive and timely manner. Cyber security incidents, for example, have become one of the hottest topics in and out of the technology sector. With this in mind, we will continue to see an increase in news and social conversation around data breaches in 2023, so SMBs need to aim for the shortest but most informative news cycle possible if they experience an attack.

“Good communication educates key audiences and generates better understanding, fosters compassion, and shows people a new way forward. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, nor should there be. It is about building your reputation, creating resilience by learning from experiences and responding quickly to mitigate the spread of misinformation. Preparing now, before an incident takes place will ensure you are ready if something does occur in the new year, as it will help you understand who should be involved and the responses that need to be considered with all stakeholders.”

Dean Arnold, founder and CEO, PublicSquare

Dean Arnold
Dean Arnold, founder and CEO, PublicSquare

“The real estate market is oversaturated with specialised tools for handling marketing distribution, rental applications and property management/payment management.  As well as finance solutions (e.g. buy now pay later bond funding and pre-sale renovation funding and marketing) agents that know how to use all these tools have realised that they don’t have to do as much work as they used to, so I expect that more and more agents will start switching to low commission service models because they can gain an edge and still make money.

“At PublicSquare – which helps all Australians realise the dream of owning their own property sooner – we’ve found new AI writing tools, such as Copy AI, which costs around $50 a month, are big timesavers when it comes to marketing and copywriting, and are helpful for writer’s block.

“Automation tools like Zapier, which can be used to automate routine tasks (e.g. send a follow-up email, record a transaction in a spreadsheet and so on) are game-changers and almost easy enough for anyone to learn now.”

David Dahdah, Branding and Content Creator, Big Smoke Media Group

David Dahdah
David Dahdah, Branding and Content Creator, Big Smoke Media Group

“Consumers are less trusting post-COVID, looking to curated content provided by sources they trust. When looking for the best version of a product they want, they don’t just google it anymore, they watch a few videos, read some forum posts and listen to personal recommendations. Comment sections and reviews have never held more weight than right now.

“To get cut through, businesses should look to active community engagement platforms. Places like Reddit, Discord and Telegram. Actively engage in the conversation around their product, and provide valuable insight and honest feedback directly to people within their audience.

“While this may be a time sink, and that time could be spent pumping out tiles for social media, if you’ve prepared a set of template tiles and are posting semi-regularly (3 times per week seems to be the current golden rule), you can use this process to feed the content you’re serving. Pull interesting data such as “30% of questions we get are around x”, which not only prompts an article idea but also makes for a great infographic/explainer video.”

Carly Shamgar, CEO and Co-Founder, Shouta Biz

Carly Shamgar
Carly Shamgar, CEO and Co-Founder, Shouta Biz

“At Shouta Biz, we are seeing a rise in companies utilising next-gen gift cards to deliver ongoing flexible cash perks to acknowledge and celebrate employees throughout the year. We predict that this type of digital gifting in the workplace will continue to rise as companies move away from product-based gifting and look at giving employees the cash rewards they want.

“With flexible working arrangements and remote and hybrid teams becoming more commonplace, instant reward and recognition tools like Shouta Biz are no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a strategic necessity.”

Ben Shipley, Chief Growth Officer, Trust The Process

Ben Shipley
Ben Shipley, Chief Growth Officer, Trust The Process

“Having spent the last few years coaching and advising hundreds of small businesses I can say that there are some pretty consistent trends and many of them driven by either the need to connect remote workforces or to try to follow the latest set of buzzwords.

The good

More and better use of CRM tools – As a business that helps implement CRM I can say that more and more small businesses understand the need to have a unified view of their customer interactions and are doing a better job of connecting their tools right through marketing, sales and service delivery to ensure consistency.

More and better use of digital communication tools for remote teams – Internal messaging apps like Slack, project management tools like Monday.com and Virtual (VOIP) phones like Aircall mean that the whole team can stay connected and the quality of the activities can be better managed.

Scheduling Apps – Whether this is for calendar scheduling to avoid email back and forths or social media scheduling, these tools are being used more and being used well.

The Bad

Automated lead nurturing – A customer receiving an email from a member of staff they just spoke to asking them about the thing they just spoke about breaks the glass of perceived personalisation. So many bad experiences from trying to automate what should be individually executed.

Inbound Lead Management – I can’t count the amount of leads I have found in the “systems” of various clients that were desperately trying to get answers and in some cases actively trying to buy but were ignored for days, weeks or even entirely. Inbound inquiry/lead management is one the greatest wastes of money in small business but with more and more moving to using quality, integrated CRM systems, I believe this will be a thing of the past.

Automation in LinkedIn lead generation – Do I even need to say it? 

Me: Accepts Connection Request

Immediate message from that new connection: Here is everything we do. Can we have a quick call so I can explain why you need it?

Me: Doesn’t respond

New Connection: Sends five additional messages asking if I got the first one and if I would like to talk

Me: No

Them: Oh please…
Free Trial Frankenstein – The growth of amazing free trial and freemium technologies for SMEs has meant that as SMEs just keep trying new things they end up over time with a Frankenstein’s monster of a tech stack that doesn’t properly integrate or flow in terms of data and eventually becomes the brakes to their growth instead of the accelerator.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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