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In response to the need for the next generation of skilled, inventive, critical, and creative thinkers and entrepreneurs to flourish in the future workforce, Australia’s Haileybury is launching a new entrepreneurship programme with edtech company HEX.

Students will develop the skills and knowledge required to be creative and entrepreneurial in various settings, including start-ups, technology corporations, existing businesses, the public sector, and social enterprises. They will also learn how to adapt and thrive in a virtual, competitive, innovation-led environment by merging real-world and theory-based techniques and applying them to the startup ecosystem.

Also read: New exchange program to foster Indian and Australian female tech talent

Universities such as RMIT, the University of Wollongong, and Torrens University will recognise the curriculum for ‘previous learning.’ Students in Years 10 and 11 can participate in the self-paced online curriculum. Students will have regular mentoring with the HEX team and industry experts, including Leon Belebrov, Principal Product Manager, Mobile at job search site Seek; Shoaib Iqbal, CEO & Founder of satellite technology startup Esper Satellites; and a host of technologists from tech giant Atlassian, in addition to the self-paced online learning and fortnightly check-ins with Haileybury Head of Entrepreneurship Damien Meunier.

Through “HEXcurisions,” they will also be exposed to the Melbourne startup environment and meet with founders, investors, and technologists. It’s an experience that most high school students will never have, and it could help them in their future jobs by opening up doors they didn’t know existed. Students who complete the Haileybury Enterprise Academy can receive recognition of prior learning’ in various business programmes at pre-approved universities around Australia, including RMIT University, the University of Wollongong, and others.

HEX Chief Growth Officer Chris Hoffmann, says: “We are thrilled to launch our first high school partnership program with one of Australia’s innovative and most entrepreneurial schools. We believe young people and the next generation need to be exposed to new learning pathways and future opportunities to unlock their full potential and help them design and build the world they want to live in. 

“With the world and future workforce changing at such a rapid pace and innovation being pivotal across all areas of business, it is an exciting time for us to challenge the traditional education pathways and see how we can further children’s skills and experiences sooner in life.

READ MORE: NSW launches online hub to support female entrepreneurs

“We look forward to forging partnerships with more forward-thinking schools and education providers to deliver a new kind of learning that keeps pace with the changes of tech, the workplace and the real world.”

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There is no question that the future of enterprises is in the cloud, with Australian businesses forecast to invest more than $20 billion in cloud computing technology by 2025.

In a pandemic-hastened move towards digital, the past two years have witnessed businesses jumping on the cloud services bandwagon in pursuit of greater efficiency, agility in reducing the time-to-market of business services, streamlined operational costs, and overall resource optimisation. 

The lure of the cloud 

Innovative uses of the cloud have enabled businesses and organisations to leverage emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to develop and launch industry-disruptive solutions at scale. For instance, cloud computing plays a critical role in digital twin technology by facilitating the storage and transmission of massive troves of data. Aside from storage alone, it opens the doors for the use of AI/ML technologies at the edge in virtualised environments that can be scaled as required. 

The use of digital twins across sectors ranging from urban planning, healthcare, and hospitality, to the energy and mining sector is anticipated to help save millions of dollars in resources while unlocking new frontiers. For example, the NSW Government recently announced the expansion of its Spatial Digital Twin to provide a 4D model for the entire state in an effort to boost productivity and create ease when planning and developing key infrastructure projects.

Nascent cloud adopters, too – particularly start-ups that lack resource capital or the technical know-how for complex applications of cloud technology – can reap significant cost savings in the long term with the right strategy in place. After all, with as-a-service offerings in the cloud, businesses have been promised a pay-only-what-you-consume model that leverages economies of scale to provision services at lower prices. Infrastructure maintenance fees are also eliminated, while businesses have the flexibility to scale up as required.

Yet, for all that cloud evangelists have banged on the cloud adoption drum – something appears to be running awry. In spite of the burgeoning investments being channelled into cloud solutions, Australian businesses are lagging behind in realising the full value of their investments in the cloud. 

Detecting and swerving common pitfalls

In a rush to realise all the benefits of the cloud, businesses have jumped in headfirst without formulating a holistic and thoughtful cloud strategy that looks beyond migration alone. While cloud migration is a great first step toward digital transformation, businesses must not neglect the reality that the cloud is a delivery model, not an end. Without adequate preparation, businesses may face bill shock – making cost savings with cloud adoption seem like a fallacy.

Businesses must understand that transitioning into the cloud is still a long-term investment and should mandate a rigorous decision-making process that considers future implications. For instance, complex pricing structures offered by some cloud vendors and varying terminologies make deciphering final costs more challenging. In particular, ingress and egress costs from data migration into and outside the cloud have been notorious for raising unforeseen expenses. Businesses would need to be prudent in selecting cloud providers that prioritise price predictability and transparency and offer pay-per-use pricing models.  

Businesses that go into cloud migration unprepared may also find themselves uncovering new, more complex and costly potholes, like security lapses from a lack of visibility across all IT environments. The Australian Cyber Security Centre reported a 13 per cent increase in cybercrime reports in the 2020-2021 financial year, compared to the previous year, equating to one attack every eight minutes. 

And perhaps most detrimental to the business is how its agility may be compromised with vendor lock-in that comes with integrating applications too tightly in the cloud within one vendor ecosystem alone, causing businesses to lose control over their IT stack and making it challenging to scale rapidly or diversify their use of the cloud. However, such scenarios can be easily averted by working with cloud providers that champion open standards and ensure reversibility and interoperability between multi-cloud environments. After all, cloud strategies should be crafted around businesses’ needs – not the reverse.

Charting the way forward for success

In the future, cloud reliance is anticipated to grow, spurred by the rise of the metaverse and Web 3.0. Businesses looking to grow must turn towards the cloud and formulate a holistic and resilient cloud strategy that accommodates market drivers and overall landscape and supports business goals. 

Aside from market drivers, selecting cloud providers that encourage an open ecosystem will also enable businesses to diversify and repatriate workloads to on-premise environments as needed. Ensuring successful cloud adoption in the long term will require foresight, and businesses will need to clearly understand how they expect the cloud to augment their services.

Ultimately, the bottom line remains central to successful cloud strategies. Without predictability of costs to be incurred, alongside the flexibility to scale as required, businesses may find themselves unable to optimise their cloud operations to get the highest return and truly enjoy the cost savings they were lured by. 

As the adage goes, cloud adoption is not a silver bullet to digital transformation. The cloud is ubiquitous and here to stay, but success will only be within reach for businesses with the right strategies. 

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“It is with great disappointment that I’m writing to let you know that Optus has been a victim of a cyberattack that has resulted in the disclosure of some of your personal information,” this is the email notification of the data breach that was sent to millions of Australians and signed by Telecom CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin last week.

Optus, Australia’s second-largest telco, suffered a major data breach on Wednesday, Sept 21, with potentially millions of customers’ personal information leaked by a malicious cyber-attack. Customers’ names, dates of birth, phone numbers, and email addresses may have been compromised, according to Optus. 

Ms Rosmarin said at a video conference that she felt “terrible.” “I’m very sorry and apologetic. It should not have happened. I’m angry that people out there want to do this to our customers,” she said.

Some clients’ street addresses, driving licence information, and passport numbers were also obtained. Then, over the weekend, a user claimed to have the information gained from the attack and demanded $1 million in Monero cryptocurrency on a data market.

The user claimed to have obtained the information using an application programming interface (API) that did not require authentication, which is software that enables two different systems to communicate with one another. Due to Optus’s obligation to retain identity verification records for six years, the cyberattack may have impacted customers as far back as 2017. 

The telco has previously issued privacy guideline amendments allowing consumers to request the deletion of their data. In the aftermath of the hack, Australia intends to change its privacy regulations so that banks can swiftly receive alerts.

Was the Optus data encrypted?

According to Andrew Wilson, CEO of Senetas, the major concern Optus must solve is if the data is secure. Encryption maintains the security of common digital transactions such as online banking and shopping.

“If this is strongly encrypted sensitive data, as it should be, then Optus customers do not need to be alarmed. They likely have years to change their passports and other identity documents before the attackers can read and use what they’ve stolen. If it isn’t, customers need to get onto that process today. That’s quite a difference!”

“Further statements from Optus that this was a very “sophisticated” attack are unsatisfactory. Very sophisticated and increasingly malicious attacks are common. That’s why ‘data protection’ is essential today – and that’s encryption. It is the last line of defence. Whether the stolen data is encrypted or not should be in the first communication about a successful breach. It is concerning that this vital bit of information is missing so far.

“Many have questioned whether the prevention systems like those used by Optus are sufficient, or if the company under-invested in its cybersecurity, and this is the inevitable result. This is unlikely. No cyber-attack prevention system is bulletproof.

“The focus should instead be on regulation – we need comprehensive federal cybersecurity legislation that punishes companies and government agencies that fail to encrypt sensitive data. Not every company can afford the type of prevention systems Optus has, but the lesson must not be that they shouldn’t try or have a last line of defence in place should a breach occur.”

Major overhaul underway

Australia plans changes to its privacy rules so that banks can be alerted faster-following cyber-attacks at companies. According to media reports, the federal government is considering legislation obliging businesses to notify banks if client data is hacked, allowing lenders to monitor impacted accounts for suspicious behaviour.

Over the weekend, Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neill stated that the government would announce additional details about the reforms “in the coming days.” Australia has been working to strengthen its cyber defences and, in 2020, planned to invest A$1.66 billion ($1.1 billion) over a decade to protect company and household network infrastructure.

Ajay Unni, CEO and Founder of StickmanCyber, emphasises the need to educate and train business users because they are the weakest link in cybersecurity.

“While having technical defences is a step forward in terms of cybersecurity maturity, I cannot emphasise the importance of training and educating business users as people are always the weakest link regarding cybersecurity. 

“Third-party risk is another area that requires close attention as larger organisations are often infiltrated through their partnerships with external suppliers.

“As the complexity and frequency of cyber threats increase exponentially, it is extremely sad to see Australia under attack from cybercriminals who are finding success in exploiting vulnerabilities to gain unauthorised access to businesses and critical infrastructure.

“Telcos like Optus carry large amounts of information about their customers such as call patterns, incoming/outgoing phone numbers, data/internet usage and other forms of personal information that can be easily exploited.

“The data exposed can now be maliciously used to create fake identities or as a launchpad to further target users individually through spear-phishing campaigns. These campaigns will now be even more effective as cybercriminals have access to more information than just an email address.

“The findings of the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s investigation into Optus’s data breach will reveal the true nature of the attack – whether it was the work of cybercriminals or a state-sponsored attack.

“Optus users need to remain vigilant of any email offering support due to this breach, even if the email appears to be from an authoritative or legitimate source. Optus customers need to do their due diligence regarding cyber hygiene and avoid clicking on any links in emails unless their legitimacy has been validated.”

According to Thales’ global research, – Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure 2022, critical infrastructure industries worldwide continue to face severe challenges and gaps in their approach to protection and risk management. 

A lack of protection for cloud-hosted data and apps, along with an increase in the extent and severity of attacks during the last 24 months, has raised the threat level posed by hacktivists and nation-state actors. Security techniques that are no longer appropriate for today’s dynamic threat landscape are increasingly endangering nations, organisations, and people’s lives.

Businesses warned to watch out for scams

Following the Optus data breach, ACCC Scamwatch is urging customers to protect their accounts and be on the lookout for fraud. 

As per ACCC, steps you can take to protect your personal information include:

  • Secure your devices and monitor for unusual activity
  • Change your online account passwords and enable multi-factor authentication for banking
  • Check your accounts for unusual activity, such as items you haven’t purchased
  • Place limits on your accounts or ask your bank how you can secure your money

If you suspect fraud, you can request a ban on your credit report.

More information about how to protect yourself is available on the OAIC website.

Check the Optus website(link is external) for information and contact Optus via the My Optus App or call 133 937.

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Businesses will need to actively monitor their income and expenses to maintain positive cash flow since economic headwinds, ranging from inflation and supply chain delays to higher interest rates and decreased consumer spending, are expected to persist throughout FY24. 

According to an unsettling new report, three-quarters of SMEs expect reduced cash flow before July of next year. Small Business Loans Australia, an Australian comparison website that assists Australian business owners in selecting the best financing and loan options in Australia, performed the research, which included 253 Australian SME owners and decision-makers.

There were 68 per cent micro businesses (1-10 employees), 18 per cent small businesses (11-50 employees), and 14% medium-sized businesses among the respondents (51–200 employees).

SMEs are expecting a cash-flow crisis

Three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents said rising interest rates and inflation would impact their cash flow before FY24. Specifically, 30 per cent feel their cash flow would be damaged because it will be more difficult to recover consumer payments, while 26 per cent believe it will be more difficult to generate customers. Another 20 per cent stated that both issues would impact their cash flow. According to the survey, 44 per cent of respondents do not have a strategy in place to maintain cash flow during difficult times. 

How much cash flow do small businesses require to stay afloat? Small Business Loans Australia also inquired about the amount of cash flow needed each month to cover business expenses. Although 68 per cent of all respondents are tiny enterprises, more than a third (39 per cent) claimed they need more than $50,000.

Will fewer small businesses invest in themselves?

Small Business Loans Australia wanted to know if the ability and incentive of small businesses to invest in themselves would be impacted by rapidly rising interest rates and inflation. More specifically, more than a quarter (29 per cent) of respondents saidthey had no plans to invest in their firms at all this fiscal year.

Forty per cent (40 per cent) will postpone planned investments until conditions improve, demonstrating that many small businesses’ motivation to grow is closely related to excellent economic conditions. Fifteen per cent will stop or have already terminated investment in their company, while only 17 per cent would continue to invest.

Among the businesses who had planned to invest in themselves before July 2024 (including those who are cancelling their investments), half (56 per cent) planned to invest more than $50,000, and a quarter (27 per cent) planned to invest more than $70,000.

The recent ABS Business Conditions and Sentiments survey found that in the first three months of 2023, 30 per cent of employing businesses had planned to increase wages and salaries, and 27 per cent would increase employee numbers. However, small businesses are less likely to action these investments to the same extent as larger businesses.

Alon Rajic, the founder of Small Business Loans Australia, says: “As Australian businesses continue to face the repercussions of the last two years, a significant proportion will have challenges, particularly without a savings buffer or strategy to help meet their expenses.

“One of the most effective ways to invest in and protect a business is to grow customers and sales – especially acquiring customers who have healthy incomes and good cash flow. This could be a good time for small businesses to develop a strategy to not only survive but grow. Businesses often reduce costs when external conditions impact them but then de-prioritise, driving new sales. However, there are opportunities even in tough conditions. 

“Growth often requires investment. Improving your product or service offering, getting in front of new customers, and customer loyalty will be important for many businesses that want to succeed in these times. For most, it will require financing.”

Alon adds: “Businesses seeking financing to help them will have a plethora of loan products to wade through. Research and loan comparisons will be important to finding the most suitable and lowest-risk loan. This may include flexibility in repayments and lower fixed interest rates. Many loans may have hidden costs and fees that should be factored into decision-making.

“However, ultimately, it is important for SMEs to seek advice from a licensed financial adviser before committing to a loan to ensure they can meet repayments and higher interest rates during periods of reduced cash flow. Using a comparison service can also assist in finding an appropriate loan option with lower interest rates.”

The full survey results can be found here.

Source: Small Business Loans.

ABS, June 2022 data: abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/business-indicators/business-conditions-and-sentiments/jun-2022

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Joining the online marketplace movement can help your enterprise expand its presence in the commercial arena.

Are you looking to increase your sales and profits and grow your footprint in new market segments? For most business owners, it’s a rhetorical question but making it happen via conventional business development activities is very often a slow burn.

Investing in a larger inventory is capital intensive. Hiring additional personnel to woo and win new accounts will increase your overheads and operating costs well before you begin to turn the desired profit. 

The rise of the marketplace

A growing number of consumer-focused businesses have circumvented these hurdles by implementing online marketplace technology that enables them to sell products and services that are owned and shipped by third-party sellers, a la Amazon and eBay.

Here in Australia, we’ve seen a string of household name players, including supermarket giant Woolworths and outdoor entertaining specialist Barbeques Galore, create their own destination sites. The next year, many others will follow suit.

Gartner highlighted the opportunity in late 2020, opining that enterprise marketplaces represented not only a new set of technologies for driving digital commerce but a fundamental business model change for commerce organisations. 

It predicted organisations that had operated enterprise marketplaces for more than a year could expect to record an increase in digital revenue of at least 10 per cent.

B2B businesses have been slower to embrace the online marketplace trend but that’s likely to change as more enterprises become cognisant of the advantages that can accrue from putting themselves at the heart of an eco-system of sellers.

Embracing B2B eCommerce

While, historically, B2B selling was heavily focused on face-to-face interactions, the Covid pandemic has upended that paradigm for what appears to be good and all. The protracted lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 put paid to industry roadshows, trade fairs and in-person sales and ushered in an era of online demonstrations and electronic interactions.

Research suggests business customers haven’t been unhappy with the change. Only 20 per cent of buyers were looking forward to the return of the rep, according to 2020 research published by McKinsey. Almost three-quarters of US businesses surveyed stated digital selling was working for them, and there’s little reason to suppose their counterparts Down Under see things any differently.  

Bottom line? Businesses are relaxed and comfortable about spending money online for everything from office supplies to high-priced plants and equipment. That means there’s a significant revenue opportunity for B2B businesses willing to invest in creating specialist destination hubs that digitally bring sellers and buyers together. 

Driving sales and growth

If you don’t know too many businesses that have succeeded in getting a B2B marketplace up and running, don’t worry – you will. Sceptics on this score may find it instructive to take a look at what’s been happening in other countries. 

Germany, for example, where Saitow, a company you’ve likely never heard of, runs Tyre24, an online marketplace where some 40,000 commercial customers go to buy tyres, wheels and automotive parts. It handles an impressive 100,000 transactions a day and clips the ticket on each and every one of them.

Steps to success: To get the wheels turning and emulate the Saitow online marketplace success story? At Spryker, we’ve seen a growing number of B2B businesses getting it right, not a few that have failed to launch. 

Those in the former category have used best-of-breed, composable software to develop a robust yet agile technical framework for their e-commerce operations.

Just as importantly, they’ve offered compelling value propositions to their seller eco-systems: clearly defined service level agreements and acceptable commission structures to all parties. 

Getting those relationships right matters far more so for B2B marketplace owners than their commercial counterparts because the former will typically deal with fewer sellers. Fail to keep them on board and on the side, and your B2B marketplace will struggle to gain traction.

Harnessing the power of marketing

And you’ll gain that traction much faster if you make marketing part of the mix from the outset. Establish your online marketplace as a go-to destination in the minds of the business buyers in your target market, and you’ll make it difficult for other suppliers in your sector to emulate your efforts.  

Smart operators will draw on the power of data to generate tailored campaigns and secure seller support to ensure those campaigns hit the mark and result in sales and growth.

Setting your B2B business up for success

The Covid crisis forced Australian businesses to abandon traditional means of doing business. Online marketplaces have emerged as an effective vehicle for bringing B2B sellers and buyers together and facilitating efficient, streamlined transactions. If increasing your revenue and profitability is important to you in 2023 and beyond, putting your enterprise at the centre of a specialist e-commerce network may prove a smart growth strategy.

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In order to reduce the cost of living pressures, businesses are now including inflation in their compensation budgets, according to new independent research.

This fiscal year, nearly all (96 per cent) business leaders have boosted their pay budget by an average of 20 per cent.

The findings are based on an independent poll done by specialised recruiter Robert Half among 300 Australian company executives, including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs. As Australian CIOs report a 26 per cent increase in their compensation budget, technology teams are projected to receive the greatest salary budget increases. With CFOs reporting an average rise of 22 per cent, pay budget increases across finance functions are expected to be much lower.

The survey found that salary budgets in small businesses will increase by an average of 10 per cent, compared to 21 per cent in medium-sized businesses and 29 per cent in large businesses. At the same time, salary budget increases are anticipated to be higher overall in larger organisations compared to smaller organisations. Why? According to the poll, three times as many Australian office workers (44 per cent) cite inflation and the cost of living as their top work-life concerns, followed by high levels of stress (15 per cent) and work-life balance (12 per cent).

Moreover, in the current context, Australian businesses are actively tackling salaries and increasing salary expenditures. When there is high inflation, increasing pay transparency in comparison to other organisations (58 per cent), educating people managers to communicate about pay effectively (52 per cent), and proactively addressing employee compensation concerns (49 per cent), are additional approaches to improve pay equity.

Due to growing inflation and cost of living pressures, more than eight out of ten (81 per cent) employers anticipate increasing employee requests for pay increases in 2022. Nearly all employers (96 per cent) are prepared to grant raises to some of their workers. Just one-third (33 per cent) of employers will give raises to workers without their asking, while 63 per cent will only give raises to those who want them. Only 3 per cent of employers said they wouldn’t raise wages this year.

“The sudden rise in inflation that we have recently seen means that employees who have not received a pay rise from their employer are now on a lower income than a few months ago. Unsurprisingly, rising inflation and cost of living pressures have put salaries in the spotlight for Australian workers as they seek to mitigate any financial challenges,” said David Jones, Senior Managing Director Robert Half Asia Pacific, in announcing Robert Half’s latest survey results.

“Our research highlights that while salary is an important factor to workers, fewer employees intend to raise salary issues with their employer than there are employers who are willing to give a raise. 

Less than half of Australian workers (44 per cent) plan to request a pay increase before the end of 2022, but more than three quarters (78 per cent) say they’ll look for a new job if they don’t get one this year. This puts the onus on employers to proactively discuss remuneration plans for the coming year with their current staff or risk losing talented employees.

“In the current changeable economic climate, there’s no doubt that companies are under pressure to evaluate and benchmark their remuneration structure against the market regularly. This reinforces the importance of communication for both parties: employers should frequently address salary expectations with their valued team members, and workers should be upfront about their work-life needs – remuneration or otherwise – to ensure a transparent and satisfactory working relationship.”

“While we know that flexibility has been a significant driver of employees’ and candidates’ decision-making in the wake of the pandemic, remuneration is now becoming a primary concern as it’s expected to impact work-life increasingly. Importantly, salary expectations among contract workers are also rising due to the increased ancillary costs of taking on a role, such as transport and childcare,” concluded Jones.

More here.

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If you have a retail business, the ability to offer online sales and ease of purchase is essential to get ahead. As consumers have moved to embrace online shopping in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, having an eCommerce option has become crucial for any successful retail business. 

A recent survey by BigCommerce showcased that millennials (67%) and Gen-Xers (56%) would prefer to search for products and purchase them online rather than doing so in a physical or brick-and-mortar store. 

So what is the best way to take your business online and increase sales? Or, if you already have an online presence, how can you easily, quickly, and consistently reach your target audience to raise awareness of your brand among potential customers? This is where multichannel strategies come to the fore and can really help grow your business. These strategies are the future of e-Commerce and should be a significant part of every NEW and existing small business game plan. Conversely, businesses that don’t adopt online selling and offer multichannel and omnichannel strategies may soon find themselves at a disadvantage over their competitors.

Let’s clarify what we mean when discussing multichannel instead of the better publicised omnichannel strategy. Omni-channel is a strategy by which a brand owns or manages several channels. For example, let’s assume we have the “HipHop shoes” brand. In an omnichannel world, HipHop would launch a shop (brick and mortar), a website (hiphop.com), a mobile app and a social media presence, all with the same underlying data store and customer record. This lets them interact with the customer in the way the customer chooses and can seamlessly transition between these channels.

Multichannel is about pushing your products not just through your channels but also through unaffiliated channels. This is analogous to HipHop selling its shoes in the HipHop store as well as at Foot Locker. 

So why would you want to embrace and use both approaches in your e-commerce strategy?

Well, it’s really about satisfying two distinct needs. First, omnichannel is all about customer engagement, retention and re-targeting. This is achieved by providing users with multiple options to interact with your brand. Multichannel is about attracting new customers and driving your brand into untapped markets. 

One way for small businesses to quickly adopt omnichannel and multichannel is to sell their products or services on online marketplaces. By taking advantage of existing markets and successful companies, businesses can get a leg up on the competition while saving time and expenses.  For example, if you are an Australian rural small business, you could create an online store on Spend With Us. The marketplace has a ready and waiting audience and community of over 365,000 members looking to purchase products from Australian rural and regional small businesses. Another example is if you have a computer parts business, you could create a profile on Newegg, a marketplace platform for IT computer components, and access their user base of customers looking to find those types of products.

+The benefits of using a marketplace to sell your products are plenty. Marketplaces can provide both an omnichannel and multichannel outlet to help you get new customers, raise brand awareness, and increase sales. By selling on a marketplace, your business also benefits from all its included marketing and brand-building expenses. People trust the marketplace, so they will automatically also trust you. Selling on a marketplace will also take care of most of the tech and marketing costs and tasks involved with selling online; design, hosting, processing of orders, financial transactions, advertising, marketing and promotion, saving you time and money, and importantly, opening your business to new markets and audiences.

Social Commerce is another way to utilise these strategies. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok provide another avenue for omnichannel organisations. Small businesses can expand their reach into previously untapped markets through digital advertisements on social media platforms and mobile apps. 

Small businesses have a real opportunity to gain with social commerce, and those that aren’t participating stand to miss out on a significant revenue stream, especially when considering that: 

  • 73% of shoppers across markets made a purchase in-store after finding or discovering the item on social media.
  • 66% of Gen Z Shoppers use social media to research a product before purchasing it.

eCommerce sales are estimated to reach nearly 24% of total retail sales by 2025. If you haven’t already, now is the time for your business to adapt to new consumer needs and behaviours, embrace online selling, and utilise strategies to help your business thrive.

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Gabrielle Munzer has been promoted to Partner at deep tech venture capital firm Main Sequence. Gabrielle will manage the firm’s renewed emphasis on bringing biotechnology (biotech) research to scale in her new role.

Gabrielle has been an integral part of the Fund’s “Feed 10 Billion People” and “Decarbonise the Planet”challenge during her three years at Main Sequence, assisting in the creation of new companies such as animal-free dairy company Eden Brew and infinite plastic recycling company Samsara Eco.

This year, she teamed with UNSW to launch Australia’s first biotech accelerator programme, SynBio 10x, to assist companies in accelerating their biotech or synthetic biology (SynBio) product development and commercialisation. 

As Australia embraces global bio-revolution, Gabrielle Munzer, Partner at Main Sequence, told Dynamic Business, “Australia has a great opportunity to become a leader in the fields of synthetic biology (synbio) and biotechnology. 

“With greater emphasis being put on our environmental output and the future of our planet, we are seeing Australian researchers delve deeper into reimagining the future of food, agriculture, plastics and more. 

“But this is just the beginning of where we’re headed. Solving the world’s biggest challenges requires much collaboration, and that’s where programs such as our SynBio 10x accelerator become so powerful. 

“As our research base continues to grow, the program serves as a way for us to support the burgeoning synthetic biology industry in Australia, helping to fast-track startups in the field, providing mentorship, infrastructure and capital.”

A $27 billion opportunity

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Main Sequence was launched in Australia in 2017 to handle the CSIRO Innovation Fund, which was established by the Australian Government and the national science agency to reinvest its historic contributions into future triumphs. Main Sequence’s Fund I and Fund II have invested in 42 firms that are transforming healthcare delivery, food production, and space connectivity, among other things.

Quasar Satellite Technologies, Endua, Eden Brew, and Samsara Eco were all born from Main Sequence’s Fund II, which saw the fruition of the firm’s innovative Venture Science model’s benefits. The method involves selecting a significant global challenge and putting together a research team to address it. The company will continue to focus on biologically-based solutions to address the world’s most pressing problems through Venture Science in its upcoming Fund III.

With support from the business community, CSIRO predicts that SynBio-enabled solutions could have a profound impact on the world and position Australia for a $27 billion opportunity that could create 44 thousand new employment by 2040. 

Main Sequence Founding Partner Phil Morle said, “Biology and nature’s smallest elements have formed the foundation of many leading innovations, for example, the insulin that is used for treating diabetes. Today, we’re only scratching the surface of the possibilities biotech and SynBio offer. Gabrielle is an important voice inside Main Sequence, pushing the boundaries and unearthing the next generation of breakthrough inventions.

“She brings a unique perspective based on years of helping to inspire leaders and build companies that challenge the way we think about alleviating the world from human damage.”

Researchers could overcome some of Australia’s biggest problems with the aid of synthetic biology-enabled solutions, which have applications in fields including health, agriculture, biosecurity, and the environment. According to CSIRO, by 2040, synthetic biology could provide up to $27 billion in annual income and 44,000 new jobs for Australia under a high growth, high market share scenario.

This National Synthetic Biology Roadmap report, published in August 2021, details the potential benefits of synthetic biology for Australia and offers suggestions for how to speed up the development, scalability, and commercial success of its uses.

Read the report PDF (4 MB)

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Farmers and industry experts will address the adoption of solar, batteries, microgrids, and agrivoltaics (the combination of solar with farming) in the sector, as well as how emissions and power costs can be reduced at the Renewable Energy Workshop on October 6. 

This October, Adelaide will play home to the 2022 Irrigation Australia International Conference and Exhibition, which will feature a Renewable Energy Workshop for the first time as demand for renewable energy soars in the face of skyrocketing electricity bills.

The nation’s food supply depends heavily on irrigated agriculture, but its continued sustainability and competitiveness depend on dependable, inexpensive, low-emission energy and diesel for water pumping. According to the National Irrigator’s Council, irrigated agriculture produces 93 per cent of fruit, nuts, and grapes, 83 per cent of vegetables, 48 per cent of dairy products, and 100 per cent of rice.

A session on future tech will see Neil Thompson, Associate Professor at the Queensland University of Technology, talk about the hydrogen economy and how farmers could be well placed to take advantage of these new technologies.

Mr Thompson says, “Recent increases in gas prices on the East Coast of Australia have seen deteriorating margins in the ag sector. At the same time, volatility in diesel pricing has seen similar pressure on farms using diesel for vehicles and irrigation pumps. Accordingly, green hydrogen made from spare renewable energy and wastewater potentially offers some hope.”  

James Stacey, an irrigator in South Australia who grows grains, oaten hay and livestock, has been using solar to reduce his pumping costs. He had expensive power bills of $5K or $6K a month before installing solar. His power bills have now substantially reduced, with the payback in about three years. 

Mr Stacey says, “We’re able to export to the grid, so that helps generate a small income during the winter months when we don’t irrigate much.

“The rough payback for our solar was about three years, so it stacks up economically for our business. It has changed the way we irrigate too as we used to only irrigate in off-peak times, but now we can irrigate when it’s best for the crops and for us.”

Anne Dansey from AgVic will be speaking about the combining of solar and farming on the same parcel of land. AgVic has installed a number of solar panels above a pear orchard to test the impact on the trees, with early results indicating reduced fruit damage by sunburn and improved water use efficiency.

Entry is included with a conference registration which  can be purchased at www.icid2022.com.au 

For information on the renewable energy workshop program, visit https://www.icid2022.com.au/renewable-energy-workshop/ 

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Prior to the pandemic, the hospitality industry routinely used immigrants to fill job openings. Hospitality businesses are struggling to meet labour demands since many workers were forced to return home when the gates closed, and there is a significant backlog in visa processing.

In fact, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, 51 per cent of hotel businesses report difficulty recruiting suitable personnel.

A new report from the leading shift work platform, DeputyThe Big Shift: The Changing Landscape of Australian Hospitality, reveals insights into how the hospitality industry is coping more than two years after the pandemic began, amid widespread labour shortages and supply chain disruptions.

Shift workers working multiple jobs and longer hours

Many people have taken up jobs across numerous hospitality businesses as labour shortages plague the industry. In the Deputy platform, the proportion of shift workers who worked multiple jobs in the hospitality industry peaked in July 2022 at just under 3 per cent. In addition, shift employees are working greater hours than they did on average before the pandemic or during high holiday and shopping seasons (such as Christmas), when shift workers’ hours typically peak.

According to Shashi Karunanethy, an independent labour economist, this can be attributed to the casualisation of work and increased job opportunities in the gig economy. At the same time, many workers may be compelled to expand their share of shift work in order to keep up with rising living costs, with the percentage of shift workers working multiple jobs rising in lockstep with inflation rates.

Major states hardest hit by labour shortages 

According to the data, this is especially noticeable in big areas like Victoria and New South Wales, where employers are rostering 30 per cent less shift work hours than before the outbreak. Karunanethy explains this to the presence of big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, which are hubs for education and business and hence attract more international students and overseas workers who work in hospitality. 

States that rely less on these people, such as Western Australia, have had the fastest rebound. However, these nations are not immune to labour shortages and continue to roster 10 per cent fewer shift work hours than before the outbreak.

Recovery across different hospitality businesses

Accommodations and sit-down restaurants experienced the greatest job gains and recoveries through 2022, with shift work hours increasing by 50 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, compared to pre-pandemic levels. Given that many Australians have avoided overseas travel, Karunanethy says they are turning to staycations and dining experiences to meet their experiential needs. On the other hand, bars and fast food outlets continue to struggle with labour shortages. 

To present, bars continue to employ 20 per cent fewer shift workers than before the pandemic. With growing price pressures from food and alcohol suppliers and problems moving to new revenue potential in takeaway and delivery services, the sector is experiencing a slew of challenges.

While food establishments are booking 40percent fewer hours than before the pandemic, this is mostly due to the industry’s adoption of food delivery models and labour-replacing technologies, resulting in fewer total shift work hours. 

Victorian fast food outlets showed the greatest decrease in shift work hours of any state. Consumer spending behaviours in the drive-through and in-app delivery purchases have now become maintained habits in the state that have been subjected to the most stay-at-home regulations.

A significant barrier for women employees 

The centrepiece reform to increase women’s labour market participation is universal daycare, with one in four potential workers citing childcare as the primary barrier to employment. As Baby Boomers and Generation X also take on childcare obligations, childcare policy will also impact older employees’ capacity to enter labour.

In the entire sector, women now make up 48 per cent of shift work hours, up from 47 per cent in 2020. Since women now work the bulk of shift work hours, cafes and coffee shops had the biggest growth for female shift employees (4 per cent). 

For more information and additional findings, access the full report here.

Visit: Deputy.

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