Brands are always searching for new ways to meet growing consumer demands as the business landscape continues to evolve rapidly.

Digital technology has shifted purchasing power to consumers, who now have instant access to information — and other global businesses selling the same product — at their fingertips. 

Historically, businesses have used the in-person customer experience as a differentiator, but in a digital-first world, this level of personalisation and attentiveness has been difficult for many retailers to replicate.

Consumers’ expectations are high, with 71 per cent expecting a personalised experience when shopping. Over the years, businesses have realised a personable brand is important in connecting with their customer base. For example, premium streetwear retailer and Shopify merchant Culture Kings, successfully transformed its online store to replicate the physical store atmosphere and experience Australian consumers have grown to love. One interesting way it does this is through a ‘Shop the Look’ page where the in-house team curates outfits on the web the way staff might make personal recommendations in-store.

Whether businesses use customisable mobile applications to meet consumer needs or integrate offline and online retail to create a more seamless shopping experience, the possibilities are endless.

The solutions to meet growing consumer demands 

With a wide range of commerce tools available, brands are able to improve every aspect of the customer journey to meet consumer demands. 

For instance, retailers can implement automated tools such as an AI-powered recommendation engine that registers customer behaviour and purchases or design smart fitting rooms to provide high-touch service for discerning shoppers. Other solutions, like a self-directed returns portal that provides real-time tracking information, allow for a simple and positive return experience. 

In doing this, brands are able to maximise their opportunities to cross-sell and upsell products within their ecosystem, all while providing an enhanced customer experience. 

Customising your online approach 

Despite consumers valuing personalised online experiences, just 30 per cent are happy with the way Australian brands do it. This is where authenticity and a polished digital presence play vital roles in exceeding customer expectations. In attempting to deliver a personalised experience, many customers can feel as though a brand is trying to sell them unnecessary products or are left feeling frustrated with poor online customer service. 

A quality brand seeks to meet consumers where they are — whether online, offline or on social media — allowing them to connect with a brand through multiple touchpoints. This involves consistency across social platforms as well as an enticing digital shopfront that appeals to your target audience, making it easier to convert ‘window’ shoppers into customers.

Created as a haven for music, sport and fashion lovers, Culture Kings successfully replicated its trademark in-store experience online, with what they’re labelling as ‘brand synergy’. By designing a tailored and exclusive experience just as impressive as in-store displays, Culture Kings was able to open four global online storefronts with 60 per cent of revenue coming from online.

Using technology to augment the physical experience has proven to be immensely beneficial to achieve a high-quality customer experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to make big waves in customer experience, from AI-based chatbots to predictive analytics and data driven personalisation.

Similarly, the use of augmented reality (AR) has seen greater adoption by brands in mainstream markets. This is primarily thanks to social media apps, with Deloitte research suggesting that 75 per cent of the global population will be frequent AR users by 2025. AR features such as virtual product try-ons improve digital experiences by delivering real-time interactions with products they’re looking to buy, resulting in less churn and better serving customer needs. 

The value of in-store purchasing applications

Social media marketing continues to have massive ROI potential, but driving sales on social media still comes with its challenges ⁠ —one being getting followers to leave a social media app to make a purchase on an online store. 

This is where social commerce integrations come into play, existing at the cross-section of eCommerce and social media. In basic terms, social commerce is when businesses, brands, and creators sell on sales channels located directly on their social media profiles or their followers’ social media feeds. 

In the past couple of years, social media platforms have developed tools like shoppable posts, on-site storefronts, and dedicated checkouts that allow users to discover new products, explore new brands and make purchases—all without ever leaving their social network.  This creates less friction at checkout,  drives engagement and easily accommodates the growing number of mobile shoppers.

Shoppers expect the ability to shop seamlessly, whether it’s online or in-store, but according to Shopify, only 7 per cent of retailers offer a unified commerce experience by allowing a customer to “start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere.” The integration of offline and online retail made available through Point of Sale (POS) software and retail hardware have allowed merchants to provide seamless experiences across channels. 

Shopify POS syncs inventory and prevents merchants from having to run separate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms across online and in-store transactions, which builds rich customer profiles to create a unified commerce experience for retailers. This ultimately offers a reimagined point-of-sale, strengthening sales and optimising flexibility for retailers. 

When it comes to evolving customer expectations, creating unforgettable experiences is one part of the winning formula for many retailers. With so much product information at their fingertips, shoppers are now calling the shots. As a result, retail brands have to get creative to keep up. Overall, using a digital-first approach to win over discerning shoppers helps brands leverage the power of online storefronts to accelerate sales and business growth.

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The stage is set for 2023 to be an impactful year for the tech industry. Despite the continued uphill battle of navigating through volatile economic conditions, I’m a big believer that tech is still well-positioned for solid growth.

A few key trends have begun to shape tech conversations in 2022, and I expect they’ll continue to dominate headlines in 2023.

From adapting to new realities in emerging industries such as artificial intelligence, the need for multilateral crypto regulation, an emphasis on cyber security, and thoughtful commitment to environmental regeneration, the coming year will mark the start of a new cycle of change. 

For business leaders, staying informed with trends as they evolve can help identify new risks and valuable opportunities for improvements in your business strategy. 

After another year of telling the stories of forward-thinkers, I asked them to share their insights on the tech trends that will shape their field in 2023:

Acceleration of AI

Artificial intelligence has allowed us to work alongside ‘robots’ and smart machines designed to help us do our jobs better. AI-powered virtual assistants will also become more prevalent in the workplace, offering more efficient methods of accomplishing objectives.

To close off the year, we saw the release of both OpenAI’s ChatGPT-3 and Lensa’s AI-selfie app, both massive leaps forward in this space that businesses should watch closely. Developing the ability to effectively utilise intelligently, smart machines will become an increasingly indispensable professional skill. 

According to Marco Zande, Head of Marketing at digital lender WLTH, “AI, machine learning, and automation are trendy buzzwords that have been dominating the past year, especially post-pandemic. While they are crucial to digital marketing strategy, we cannot ignore the critical human element that enhances the experience”.

“The pandemic introduced us to a more digital world, but we have learned that consumers still respond well to that personal interaction.”

Climate / Environmental sustainability 

In the last five years, 85 per cent of consumers have shifted their purchase behaviour towards being more sustainable, supporting businesses that care about the environment and their carbon emissions.

Businesses now need to be vehicles of change and can no longer ignore sustainability when making key business decisions. The interests of employees, customers, and local communities are now front and centre. 

Entrepreneurs like Brodie Haupt, CEO, and co-founder at WLTH, are challenging businesses to think more sustainably after launching Australia’s first recycled Ocean Plastic® Visa Card in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans earlier this year. 

“In 2023, sustainability will be hard to ignore. Consumers are looking for new ways to reduce their environmental footprint, and I think it’s up to us as business leaders to take charge and take control of the issue. Our customers are becoming more socially conscious, and we must empower them to be more involved in protecting the environment.”

“Transparency in communicating efforts and progress toward being a responsible company will be a top priority for all businesses, particularly within the fintech space. With more Australian banks committing to the United Nations’ Net-Zero Banking Alliance, smaller fintech innovators will need to make more tangible efforts to make a positive impact on the planet to keep up.

In addition, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is actively clamping down on misleading environmental claims, a proper ESG strategy is needed to report their progress and avoid greenwashing backlash legitimately,” added Haupt. 

Improvement of payments systems and fraud prevention

Fraud prevention has been brought into the spotlight over the past few years. At the AusPayNet’s annual summit in December 2022, Reserve Bank Governor Dr Philip Lowe outlined the intent of the RBA to support innovation that will help Australia be well-placed for the digital future.

“2022 was a big year of developments for the payments industry, and with new developments, increased concern about fraud became. Fraud on payment card transactions totalled a whopping $499.5 million in the 12 months to 30 June 2022, according to AusPayNet,” says Luke Fossett, Director, Australia and New Zealand of GoCardless.

“A significant change on the horizon for SMEs is the integration of PayTo by Australian banks and financial institutions. Essentially, PayTo is a new digital payment experience offering Australians better visibility and control over their payments within the safety and security of their chosen banking app.

By the end of Q1 2023, it’s expected that most – if not all – banks will be ‘PayTo ready’ and prepared to offer this new approach to bank-to-bank payments to all their clients. 

Fossett notes the introduction of PayTo could save millions of dollars worth of fraudulent and unauthorised transactions from the Australian financial system due to its instant account verification and payment notifications. 

“In our recent State of Pay report, 51 per cent of medium-to-large businesses stated they’d experienced credit card fraud in the last two years, which interestingly, occurs at a similar rate for businesses with less than 20 people.

Medium to large businesses cited they experienced at least double the amount of credit card fraud compared with all other sized businesses surveyed. Because PayTo payment agreements are authorised by the customer through secure banking platforms, adopting the platform will reduce the likelihood of payment fraud,” he said. 

Crypto regulation 

Cryptocurrency is perhaps the most volatile industry with the most uncertainty going into 2023. Market crashes left the digital currency in a fragile state, which may bring challenges in the new year. Industry expert Josh Gilbert, Analyst at eToro Australia, predicts greater regulation across the crypto asset marketplace from consumers, companies and government, globally and in Australia. 

“Both in Australia and abroad, the call for greater regulation across the crypto asset marketplace is growing from consumers, companies, and government. I anticipate that in the new year, we’ll see some significant movement on a Federal level – at the very least, both here and in the US.”

“The potential benefit in Australia, broadly speaking, is that more stringent regulation will assist in removing bad actors from the industry, helping to solidify the reputation of functional crypto markets and already-compliant exchanges while insulating retail investors against unnecessary risk.”

“We’ll also likely see the commencement of the RBA’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot program, estimated to take approximately a year to complete.

Over the course of the year, we should expect to see some indicators of whether this trial is likely to see the currency evolve into mainstream integration, which could be a huge boon for innovators within this space,” Mr Gilbert added. 

After a tumultuous 2022, which saw the rise and fall of markets, the collapse of some of the industry’s largest companies, and the birth of new transformative technologies, it’s clear that a new year will present opportunities and challenges that we’ve never dealt with before. Every business leader should have these trends on their radar to stay relevant as we approach a new era in tech advancement. 

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Business leaders are planning and budgeting for the coming year and are asking themselves, how do I distinguish between what’s a buzzword and what’s worth paying attention to?

While volatile market conditions and the economic downtown has made it difficult for businesses to predict what 2023 will bring, business leaders must continue to be agile to adapt and thrive.

Automating the mundane

In the coming year, companies that automate workflows will gain a competitive edge, reducing human dependence on mundane tasks such as sending welcome emails when a new employee joins, setting follow-up reminders, and getting contacts to subscribe to newsletters.

When a business automates the mundane, they achieve higher employee satisfaction as employees spend more time working on tasks they enjoy and reduce the likelihood of human error. This is particularly pertinent for the retail industry as wages continue to rise and the labour shortage continues to grow.

Complex, bloated systems can not only be detrimental to employees but are a major financial strain on businesses. To stay ahead of the game, businesses should consider adopting tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

With 47% of developers needing access to the tools they need to build applications fast enough to meet deadlines, businesses should look to low-code and no-code platforms. Written by AI engines that can intelligently generate their own code, these platforms enable businesses to drive greater innovations in a shorter time by cutting down development time by 90 per cent with fewer errors.

By implementing tools such as chatbots and low-code platforms, businesses can automate processes and reap the benefits of personalised customer support, simplified IT service requests and reduced service agent workload.

The customer experience expectation

Evolving customer needs require continuous and fast innovation. To meet customer expectations in 2023, companies should prioritise the adoption of tools and technologies that can support and provide efficient self-service options. In today’s fast-paced world, customers expect immediate responses and are no longer willing to wait several minutes to get the help they need.

By leveraging deep learning, conversational AI chatbots improve and learn from every conversation, effectively processing and analysing information to provide customers with relevant recommendations, solutions, and suggestions.

Although software is created to make lives easier, employees are becoming overwhelmed. According to recent research conducted by Freshworks, the cost of using bloated tech stacks has amounted to more than $122 billion AUD annually. Over half (54%) of global participants in the research study said their organisation pays for SaaS features that their IT teams never use and 40% say too much of their tech stack is hard to use.

For example, global supply chain disruptions are putting increased pressure on the retail industry to find efficiencies and better equip employees to serve customers. The industry must move quickly to retain its often transient workforce, who want to be able to interact easily with their work software.

Research by Aberdeen Strategy & Research found organisations that rely on AI capabilities have successfully achieved increased customer satisfaction rates 3.5 times and generated lower costs while maximising agent performance. A single chatbot can resolve thousands of customer queries at a single time, meaning employees can prioritise important tasks and be confident that simple queries are being attended to.

By investing in the right technology, businesses can streamline their processes and make it easier for customers to get what they need. This could include implementing functions like chatbots and self-service kiosks or leveraging mobile apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that enable customers to access information on their preferred platform and make purchases quickly and easily. Having customers at the core is a business essential. By ensuring a more positive customer experience, businesses will build brand loyalty and achieve greater retention.

Resilience in a downturn

While businesses brace for a rough economic ride in the coming year, one thing for sure is the tech and software industry will continue to be driven by innovation. We can expect to see new technologies and platforms emerge, as well as the ongoing evolution of existing technologies.

The importance of automation is not to be undervalued, nor is the application of the right tech stack for your employees. For businesses to tide through these challenging periods of time, it is important to stay up to date on these developments and adapt to the ever-changing market.

Leveraging tools such as AI and ML can help business leaders to stay agile, understand gaps in the market and make data-driven decisions to keep up with the ever-changing technology landscape.

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These days, there is an app for everything to help you in your day-to-day life. An app wakes you up in the morning; another one tracks your sleep and flicking to another, you can turn on your coffee machine and instruct music to play from somewhere. 

Think of something you need, and there is probably an app to help you. Why should your work life be any different?

Slack research shows that Aussie professionals are spending four hours every week just hopping from app to app – that’s a lot of time spent context-switching!

A common pain point for employees, and businesses, is that the apps they use don’t talk to each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if your apps were integrated, so you could keep on top of everything in one place?

Well, this wish might not be so far off. Gartner is predicting the rise of the ‘superapp’, forecasting that by 2027, more than 50% of the global population will be daily active users. 

An easy way to conceptualise the concept of a ‘superapp’ is to think of it like a Swiss army knife that delivers access to a range of component tools (miniapps). These can be activated as needed by customers or employees in a powerful, easy-to-use, mobile-like experience that is also likely to include workflows, collaboration and messaging capabilities.

And after adopting collaborative technology, like Slack, to keep teams connected during the pandemic, businesses realise that there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s not just for communication — it unlocks a whole new way of working that is purpose-built to help you work smarter, not harder. 

A key way that modern collaboration platforms enable this, and foster greater productivity, is through the integrations they enable with the apps your business already uses, plus ones you might use in the future. Adding an app or integration through the Slack App Directory, for example, is easy. It requires very little skill, and is just like downloading a new app for your mobile phone. 

This ease of app integration has numerous benefits. Organisations can select best-of-breed tools to support their business without worrying about the time and expense of securely linking them up to their existing IT stack. IT teams can be more productive, and employees can share and find information without having to chase down tasks and messages across multiple platforms, freeing them up to focus on work that matters. 

A recently announced Sales Cloud integration for Slack will enable sales reps to pull relevant information in, quickly update records and collaborate on deals, freeing them up to spend more time building relationships with their customers.  

But, with thousands of apps that can be integrated, where do you start? Here’s a list of five apps that will help ease the common challenges of working in a hybrid environment – continuity, connection, communication, collaboration and coordination.  

Watercooler conversations, from anywhere – Donut

One of the biggest things people say they miss when working remotely are those hallway conversations in the office. It’s those spontaneous encounters that help build connections, camaraderie and trust. 

So how do you keep these casual conversations going when people are working remotely? This is where Donut comes in. 

Every week, Donut randomly selects two users to meet and chat about things unrelated to work – making it the perfect icebreaker. It automatically creates a new conversation in Slack for paired colleagues to discuss plans for their virtual coffee and doughnut break. 

For Aussie fintech lender Wisr, integrating Donut was a worthwhile decision as employees transitioned to remote work. It encouraged people to get to know one another beyond their job title and discover new perspectives. 

Connect info from your apps, with zero coding – Zapier

It’s hard to collaborate when your info is scattered across apps that don’t talk to each other. For everyone to be on the same page, it all needs to be in one place.  

That’s why Zapier is another favourite of businesses. Its ability to seamlessly move info between Slack and thousands of other tools, like Gmail, Hubspot and Typeform, and without native integrations, helps to makes collaboration easier. 

You can bring calendar events, social media mentions, or new lead details straight into chat; automatically create a to-do list item when you save a Slack message; fill out forms or surveys, and much more.  

It’s also easy to make Slack notification bots for any of the apps that connect to Zapier. Shopify used Zapier to create its bot, Spy, to accelerate incident resolution. This is especially important for Shopify as system outages cost tens of dollars per minute. With the Spy bot, teams now receive real-time customer support status updates and can quickly query information relating to shops, traffic, checkouts and more.

Get answers to questions, quickly – Polly 

Sending a mass email to ask a question and then going through the responses individually is no fun — whether you’re trying to organise a meeting, get feedback or come to an agreement.

With Polly, you can create native polls in Slack channels to get the answers you need, fast. 

For RMIT University, it’s vitally important to check in with students during the first two weeks of a course. This period is critical to the long term success and completion of students’ studies. Using the Polly integration, RMIT encourages feedback from individuals on how they’re finding their course and campus experience, so that challenges can be addressed early on. 

Stay on top of workplace movements – Envoy

With a distributed workforce, it’s not always clear, for example, who’s in the office on which day. 

Envoy allows staff to easily coordinate schedules, check in to meeting rooms and update their Slack status to show where they’re working. It also helps you manage everyone and everything that enters your workplace by automatically sending a notification when visitors and deliveries arrive.

For SEEK, a career matchmaker, Envoy has been helpful in increasing transparency. For example, at a glance, team leaders and managers can now know who can attend a meeting in person and who will be joining virtually. 

Give teammates a well-deserved shoutout – Disco

Work well done is worth celebrating. When employees are recognised for their contributions, they feel proud, confident and are motivated to do even better next time. 

With the Disco integration within Slack, you can send compliment cards, give kudos, and use the appreciation dashboard to keep employees feeling good about themselves and their teammates. 

At Canva, a design technology company, celebrating great work is now a team ritual, thanks to Disco. Canva has taken it further with an extra layer of customisation — when someone gets kudos, Disco comes up with the six company values that the work can be attributed to. 

Make Slack work for you

With thousands of app integrations quite literally at the tip of your finger, the power is in your hands to embrace Slack to make your hybrid working experience simpler, more pleasant and more productive. 

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As the world continues to grapple with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the next year and beyond will be marked by significant changes and uncertainties.

Ross Dawson, a renowned futurist, based in Bondi Beach, believes that the pace of change will likely accelerate rather than a slowdown in the coming year.

Dawson has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most influential futurists, having delivered keynotes in over 30 countries and written five bestselling books. He has a track record of accurately predicting trends and has been credited by the New York Times with predicting the rise of social networks.

In the face of the profound uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, Dawson has identified six exciting ideas that he believes will shape the future in 2023 and beyond. 

These include the continued rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the growing importance of remote work and collaboration, the transformation of the retail industry through the use of technology such as augmented reality and virtual reality, the increasing role of technology in healthcare, the shift towards a low-carbon economy through the adoption of clean energy technologies, and the growth of personalised learning.

AI is your buddy

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace will continue to expand, with tools such as ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion becoming increasingly common. These AI technologies will help office workers generate ideas, write documents, analyze situations, and make decisions. Those working in other industries will also find ways to utilize AI in their work. As a result, those skilled in using AI will likely outperform their peers.

Education turned over

The education system is in need of transformation, and the adoption of AI-powered tools can help facilitate this change. These technologies can provide personalized coaching and assistance to students, going beyond what a teacher can offer to an entire class. At the same time, AI can generate homework assignments that are good enough to earn top grades, making it more difficult for teachers to assign traditional essays.

The gig economy is the future

The gig economy, which was previously limited to roles such as Uber drivers and Airtaskers, is expanding to include a wider range of jobs and industries. Many people with full-time employment are also working on their own “side hustles” in an effort to start their own businesses.

Some larger companies are even implementing internal work marketplaces to allow their employees to take on additional projects and roles on a flexible basis. As a result, the traditional concept of a full-time job may become less common.

Falling in love with robots

The increasing sophistication of AI, including the ability to recognize and respond to emotions, may lead to more people falling in love with robots. This trend is already evident in China, where the AI chatbot Xiaoice has gained 600 million users for its virtual girlfriend platform.

Real-time sustainability

Sustainability and environmental concerns will continue to be a major focus, with individuals and organizations using apps and data tracking to monitor and reduce their carbon emissions and waste. The energy transition to clean, renewable sources such as solar power is also underway, with a significant portion of households in Australia already having installed solar energy systems.

Connected glasses

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, which has been slower to gain widespread adoption, is expected to see more widespread use in the coming year.

Apple is rumoured to be releasing a VR/AR headset in the first half of 2023, which could lead to the development of iGlasses with a similar impact to the iPhone.

In the meantime, glasses with connected technology that can display information, directions, and images are expected to be released in 2023. These glasses may eventually be adopted by most people who wear eyeglasses before the wider adoption of AR glasses.

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Google has released a new help document that will keep you up to date on which methods Google employs to rank search results and which are being phased out. 

Google employs automatic ranking techniques that analyse hundreds of billions of web pages and other pieces of material in our Search index to offer the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second.

The page explains that these are the current ranking systems used at Google Search. Here’s the list:


Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) is an AI system Google uses that allows us to understand how combinations of words express different meanings and intent.

Crisis information systems

Google has created systems to provide useful and timely information during crises, whether personal crises, natural disasters, or other widespread crises.

Deduplication systems

Google shows only the most relevant results to avoid unhelpful duplication. Deduplication also happens with featured snippets. If a web page listing is elevated to a featured snippet, Google doesn’t repeat the listing later on the first page of results.

The exact match domain system

Google’s ranking systems consider the words in domain names as one of many factors to determine if the content is relevant to a search. However, the Google match domain system ensures they don’t give too much credit for content hosted under similar domain names.

Freshness systems

Google has a number of “query deserves freshness” systems in place to show more recent content for queries where it is expected. For example, if someone searches for a recently released movie, they are more likely to want recent reviews rather than older articles from when production began.

Helpful content system

Google’s helpful content system is designed to ensure better people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results rather than content made primarily to gain search engine traffic.

Link analysis systems and PageRank

Google has various systems that understand how pages link to each other to determine what pages are about and which might be most helpful in response to a query. Among these is PageRank, one of our core ranking systems used when Google first launched. 

These systems analyse the relationships between pages to understand what they are about and which could be most useful in answer to a query.

Local news systems

Google has systems that work to identify and surface local news sources whenever relevant, such as through our “Top stories” and “Local news” features.


Multitask Unified Model (MUM) is an AI system capable of both understanding and generating language. It is used to improve featured snippet callouts but not for general ranking.

Neural matching

Google uses neural matching, an AI system, to understand and match representations of concepts in queries and pages.

Original content systems

Google has systems in place to ensure that original content, including original reporting, appears prominently in search results ahead of those who cite it.

Removal-based demotion systems

Google has policies that allow the removal of certain types of content. If they process a high volume of such removals involving a particular site, they use that as a signal to improve our results. 

Penguin system

This was a system designed to combat link spam. Announced in 2012 and given the nickname of the “Penguin Update”, it was integrated into our core ranking systems in 2016.

Secure sites system

This system, announced in 2014, meant that when all things were equal, sites secured with HTTPS would do better in our ranking systems. It helped encourage the growth of secure sites at a time when the use of HTTPS was still fairly uncommon. It has since been made part of our page experience system.

Mobile-friendly ranking system

In situations where there are many possible matches with relatively equal relevancy, the mobile-friendly ranking system gave preference to content that rendered better on mobile devices, as mobile-friendly content is more useful for people searching on those devices. The system has since been incorporated into our page experience system.

Page speed system

This system, announced in 2018 originally as the “Speed Update”, meant that when all things were equal, content that loaded faster for mobile users would do better in our mobile search results. It has since been made part of our page experience system.

Panda system

This was a system designed to better ensure high-quality and original content was appearing in our search results. Announced in 2011 and given the nickname of the “Panda,” it evolved and became part of our core ranking systems in 2015.

Retired systems

The systems below are noted for historical purposes. They’ve either been incorporated into successor systems or made part of our core ranking systems.


This was a major improvement to our overall ranking systems made in August 2013. Our ranking systems have continued to evolve since then, just as they had been evolving before.

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Businesses in Australia and New Zealand that use data effectively can, on average, increase their annual revenue by 9.5%.

This translates to an additional $38 million in annual revenue for large organisations in Australia with more than 200 employees.

According to a new AWS report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, organisations with more than 100 employees improved their data capabilities in the previous year, with 34 per cent achieving Advanced or Master levels of data maturity, compared to 16 per cent in 2021. 

Almost half of the organisations polled (48 per cent ) stated that effectively capturing and analysing data can lead to increased productivity, followed by improved customer experience (45 per cent ) and lower operating costs (42 per cent).

Finance and insurance companies scored the highest on the data maturity scale, with 50 per cent achieving Advanced or Master status, followed by manufacturing (45 per cent ) and information, media, and telecommunications (33 per cent ).

On the other hand, construction, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade organisations have the lowest data maturity levels, with less than 20 per cent of surveyed organisations in these industries achieving Advanced or Master levels of data maturity.

Unusual challenges

While improving data maturity benefits businesses, large organisations in Australia and New Zealand continue to face challenges in climbing the data maturity ladder, with 42% of organisations achieving Basic and Beginner data maturity.

The main barrier cited by organisations to use data and analytics was a lack of funding (44 per cent ), which has been exacerbated by COVID-19, with 49 per cent of respondents reporting that competing priorities have resulted in fewer resources for data and analytics since the pandemic’s onset. Furthermore, 37 per cent of organisations cited poor data quality as a barrier to businesses adopting more advanced data analytics.

“We are excited to see that more organisations have advanced their data capabilities, which will help them to drive productivity, and create a positive impact on the economy while delivering significant financial returns for their business,” said John O’Mahony, partner at Deloitte Access Economics.

“Investing in cloud solutions will help businesses further their data capabilities and leverage advanced analytics tools such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things to achieve data-driven insights.

In fact, businesses that already use the cloud are 71 per cent more likely to have invested in artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities versus organisations using on-premises data storage. To increase productivity and innovation, organisations should have a clear and practical roadmap for advancing on the data maturity ladder, invest in attracting and retaining talent, and leverage the right technology to reap the full benefits.”

 According to the report, one-third of Australian and New Zealand organisations (35 per cent ) cited a lack of skilled resources as a barrier to developing their data and analytics capabilities. To improve data maturity, 33 per cent of surveyed organisations prefer to upskill their current employees, followed by outsourcing to other organisations (24 per cent ), and hiring skilled staff (24 per cent ).

“Data can be an invaluable source of growth for organisations in Australia and New Zealand. The key is recognising its inherent value, analysing it effectively, and building a data-driven culture.

“No matter what stage organisations are in their data journey, AWS is committed to helping customers leverage the scalability, cost efficiency, and security of the cloud to scale their data projects and unify their data to drive productivity and innovate on behalf of their customers,” said Rada Stanic, chief technologist at AWS in Australia and New Zealand.

“Organisations will also benefit from building data skills within their teams, which may involve upskilling current staff through on-the-job training and training courses or collaborating with organisations such as our extensive network of AWS Partners.

“As organisations increase their data maturity, it will transform how they solve problems and build customer experiences, leading to breakthroughs in all industries, including healthcare, finance, retail trade, and manufacturing operations.”

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For today’s consumer with even the best of intentions, it can be daunting to evaluate how sustainable their choices really are. What are the unintended consequences of their recent spends? How environmentally friendly is their super fund? Is their bank lending to fossil fuel companies?

This dilemma is only made more complicated by corporate greenwashing, when companies purport to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes without tangible actions to back it up.

A Sydney-based start-up, however, is cutting through the fat by providing a consolidated view of users’ finances to empower them towards smart, sustainable choices.

“I suppose we’re creating a bit of a new category that doesn’t really exist in the market,” observed Anil Sagaram, founder and CEO of Acacia Money.

“You’ve got climate tech companies that are really focused on driving climate and environmental outcomes. Then you’ve got fintech companies that are helping people manage their money. Acacia’s really bridging the two.”

Funded by a mix of staff, angel investors and working partners, including an investment from Impact Ventures as part of EnergyLab’s 2022 Climate Solutions Accelerator, the platform is making it easy and rewarding for consumers to turn the dial on climate change.

“There’s growing awareness of how interconnected our world is and what we’re trying to do with Acacia is empower people to have an impact on the future through the choices they make. It’s quite exciting in terms of both the role of technology and the awareness,” Anil added.

Expanding the scope of financial services

As a business leader with over two decades of experience developing financial platforms, including the Panorama wealth platform for BT Financial Group, part of Westpac, Anil witnessed firsthand how “the financial system could either make or break the climate transition.”

“Superannuation and banking choices can actually drive the bulk of your environmental impact. Consumers could drive up to some say 70 per cent, but certainly north of a 50 per cent, reduction through the choices they make and that’s a huge number,” he said.

This knowledge, combined with a strong connection to nature from growing up in the far north of Western Australia, ultimately drove him towards creating something with a positive impact. In 2020, he stepped away from the corporate world to launch Acacia Money, alongside technology leader and solutions architect Chris Markey.

Anil added, “For the first 18 months or so, we were focused on getting the core operating system and foundation in place. We’ve had the Acacia app up and running over the last 12 months, testing it with users. We’re making sure we’ve got a solution that really delivers the desired outcome.”

Through Acacia’s open architecture platform, a user’s various accounts like their super, investments, even energy providers, are brought together to paint a comprehensive view of their individual carbon impact. Their accounts performance is measured against competition by Acacia’s analytics engineers through transparent data systems, leaning on independent research, industry averages, and other ESG assessments to cut through the greenwashing.

If there are better financially and environmentally friendly alternatives, users are provided with tools to make an easy switch. They’re also able to access financial advice partners to ensure they’re building wealth while making meaningful changes.

In another ‘green’ move, Acacia also pledges to plant a tree every time users make a more sustainable switch, partnering with Greenfleet for their first Green Rewards initiative.

ALSO READ: Founder Friday with Jacinta Timmins: the secrets of launching a sustainable apparel brand

acacia money app
Source: supplied

Not just for younger consumers

One wouldn’t be remiss to assume Acacia’s model might largely appeal to younger demographics. Just last year, millennials (ages 23 to 32) lead the pack in a PwC survey of generational differences in eco-friendly consumerism.

However, Anil notes, Acacia’s users come from across the age spectrum.

“We often think of climate engagement as the ‘millennial mindset’ but it’s increasingly become a broad phenomenon. Look at the floods, the bush fires […] There’s growing engagement with environmental issues,” he explained.

“We’re really noticing success with people comfortable with digital tools. If you think about digitization, you think of Netflix, Uber, Airbnb – all these platforms using data to provide insights you need while removing friction from the end-to-end process. Ultimately, that’s what Acacia is designed to do.”

acacia money app
Source: supplied

Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs

With Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Morgan Stanley, and GBST among the other impressive names on his resume, Anil certainly has some business advice to spare. The most important, perhaps, is the importance of building connections.

“Since I spent my career in large banks and large corporations, before moving into the startup community, I think the number one lesson is the power of network and the power of your connections. You don’t need to have all the answers. It’s about surrounding yourself with people and partners that can help you achieve your goals,” he said.

“We’ve found a lot of great partners that have allowed us to build the platform out, rather than trying to solve everything ourselves. And I think that’s probably a big distinction in leaving a corporation where it’s all about what’s in the building to a start-up where it’s all about the network out in the world.

“So I encourage people just to connect and have those conversations and learn through them. See how you can solve things collectively rather than individually.”

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ALSO READ: Founder Friday with Paul Tory: creating smarter ordering solutions for the hospitality industry

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A new report by the professional association for Australia’s tech sector has analysed millions of online job postings since 2016 to find the jobs most in-demand in the country.

The ACS report found tech jobs recorded the second highest growth in Australia in the last five years at 14 per cent, second only to healthcare (21 per cent).

Software developer / engineers top the list with 31,725 job postings in 2021 alone, almost twice the number of postings as the second largest occupation, which is computer systems engineer/ architect. This is followed by data analysts, operations analysts, computer support specialists, and systems analyst.

Other notable occupations in the top 20 tech jobs in-demand in Australia include IT project manager, cybersecurity analyst, UI/UX developer, technology consultant, and computer programmer.  

Database architect, data warehousing specialist, and data scientist are leading the pack as the fastest growing tech occupations, recording over 100 per cent growth in the past five years.

Other key findings are that most IT roles are located in NSW, Victoria, and Canberra, indicating an uneven distribution of tech jobs around the country. Additionally, there’s growing emphasis on soft skills like communication and teamwork as much as technical skills.

“The Guide to the IT Professions report highlights the great opportunities in the technology sector and just how strong the competition for talent now is,” said ACS Vice-President, Jo Dalvean.

“For employers, the report shows how important it is to establish alternative pathways into the industry beyond IT related degrees. Some of the sector’s best talent doesn’t come through traditional career progression.”

Ms Dalvean added, “For technology students and workers, the report also shows the potential in emerging technologies. Regardless of what you’re currently studying or the field you’re qualified in, there are great career opportunities in the coming years.”

Big salaries

Unsurprisingly, occupations in this sector are particularly high paid, well above the national average salary of $72,000.

ICT managers command the highest salary at nearly $180,000, well over 200 per cent of the national average.

The report found the average salary for a software and applications programmer stands at around $117,000 while multimedia specialists and web developers pocket around $96,000 annually. The only occupation not above the national average is ICT support technicians at around $71,000.

ALSO READ: Tech Tuesday: New-age hardware and blockchain tools that your business can use to optimise its operations

woman on desktop
Source: Patrick Amoy on Unsplash

Most requested skills

While employers are increasingly demanding soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and collaboration, the most requested specialist skill in tech remains SQL (16 per cent) followed by Java (12 per cent) and DevOps (12 per cent). Other specialised skills in demand are Python (10 per cent), technical support (8 per cent), and Linux (7 per cent).

The report also found several of the fastest growing skills in tech right now relate to cloud computing and storage, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Interestingly, employer demands in Australia rank higher than overseas counterparts as 97 per cent of ads in Australia required tertiary qualifications. In comparison, employers in the UK requested a Bachelor’s degree or higher in 90 per cent of postings and 86 per cent in the US.

Industry analysis

At over 26 per cent, the largest share of IT roles are found within the professional, scientific, and technical services industry.

The second largest industry is public administration and safety (17.3 per cent) and financial and insurance services (13.1 per cent).

Cybersecurity continues to grow in importance. In 2021, there were almost twice as many cybersecurity postings as there were five years prior. The top employers for these roles remain governments and government agencies along with consulting firms (such as Deloitte and Accenture), banks (Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Macquarie Group) in the top 10 list.

Click here for the full report.

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ALSO READ: Tech Tuesday: Our top selection of tools for analysing business data in 2022

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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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