This year, we’ve seen businesses relying on technology more than ever to connect, interact, transact and much more.

This will continue in 2021, as businesses increasingly rely on technology for productivity, security and business continuity, with record numbers of staff working from home, rising cyber attacks, the ongoing pandemic, as well as returning business confidence.

Here’s how we see the tech outlook in 2021 for Australian businesses.

5G will become mainstream

Now supported by the new iPhone 12 and the Samsung Galaxy, 5G is available in over 1,000 suburbs and 53 cities and towns around Australia. This includes wide coverage from Newcastle and the Hunter Valley down to Sydney.

As the rollout continues, 5G offers businesses:

Telstra expects 5G coverage to extend to 75% of the country by June, with the Government declaring 2021 the ‘Year of 5G’ and forecasting it to boost GDP by up to $2,000 per person this decade. For the productivity gains alone, 5G will become mainstream for Australian businesses in 2021.

Working from home will survive COVID-19

Almost half of Australia’s workforce spent time working from home in 2020, in large part as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and related safety directives. In NSW for example, working from home doubled during the pandemic, particularly in the bigger cities.

Many of our customers also made this transition, and with the right technology they were able to avoid disruption to their operations and to maintain productivity.

While the NSW Public Health Order regarding employees working from home ‘where practicable’ ceased on Monday 14 December, we expect a significant portion of businesses will continue remote working arrangements for the foreseeable future. This is backed by a recent University of Sydney study, which found that 75% of workers anticipate their employers will support working from home ongoing.

“The evidence reinforces the fact that as we move through and beyond the COVID-19 period, we can expect commuting activity to decline by an average of 25 to 30 percent as both employers and employees see value in a work from home plan.”

Professor David Hensher – Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (USYD)

Cloud adoption will accelerate

Around 75% of Australian organisations use multiple cloud platforms, with web-based emails, file sharing and cloud-based applications being the most popular cloud services with SMEs. These technologies have also been increasingly relied upon to facilitate staff working from home during 2020, along with video conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Lifesize.

“The pandemic validated cloud’s value proposition. The ability to use on-demand, scalable cloud models to achieve cost efficiency and business continuity is providing the impetus for organisations to rapidly accelerate their digital business transformation plans.”

Sid Nag – Gartner Research Vice President

As we head into 2021, businesses will become more reliant than ever on cloud platforms, with Australian investment in cloud storage and systems projected to increase 23% on 2020 levels.

At the same time, we’ll continue to see businesses overpaying for cloud by around 35%, in particular through over-provisioning of resources and poor visibility on spend. This is why we recently launched ‘Cloud Control’, a free service that analyses your cloud and network architecture, usage and requirements, and identifies how to lower costs while maintaining or improving performance.

Our cloud spend was previously around $12,500/mth. Forsythes Technology has helped us reduce this by over $5,000/mth, achieving a 43% cost saving.

John Babic – BMT Tax Depreciation

Cybersecurity attacks will hit more businesses than ever

Australia was ranked the sixth most targeted country in the world for major cybersecurity attacks in 2020, and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) reported cyberattacks against Australians and Australian businesses around once every 10 minutes. The Government estimated that these attacks cost Australian businesses up to $29 billion each year.

“Malicious cyber activity is increasing in frequency, scale, in sophistication and in its impact. It’s vital that all Australian organisations are alert to this threat and take steps to protect their own networks.”

Linda Reynolds – Australian Minister for Defence

At Forsythes Technology, we’ve mitigated 5,438 cybersecurity threats to our managed cybersecurity customers to date in 2020, ensuring our customers’ business continuity and security of their digital assets. With hackers looking to exploit the ongoing pandemic (so far costing Australians over $18.5M) and vulnerabilities associated with remote working, we’re prepared for heightened cybersecurity risks in 2021 and we’ll be continuing our regular cybersecurity virtual events to promote awareness around these issues.

[In the next five years] Cyber criminals will continue to invest in artificial intelligence to increase the sophistication, frequency and effectiveness of attacks, particularly by leveraging social engineering. Artificial intelligence will use many data points to correlate information about you to try and trick you into giving up passwords, clicking on something or taking an action you otherwise wouldn’t. The trends of increasing frequency and sophistication show no signs of slowing down.

Michael Wilson – Forsythes Technology (Newcastle Herald, December 2020)

⚠️ Security Warning ⚠️

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a number of phishing attacks on our customers using domain spoofing, but instead of appearing to come from a legitimate third party domain, they appear to come from the recipient’s own email address with the hacker writing “I’ve got access to your account” or something similar. Because some people have white-listed emails from themselves, these phishing emails are not necessarily blocked by spam filters as they would be normally, so beware and never open or interact with a suspicious email – contact your IT team instead.

AI will be increasingly integrated into business systems

In 2021, more businesses than ever will be using artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline, safeguard and smarten business processes. This is expected to generate around 20,000 new AI-related jobs in Australia in 2021.

As businesses look to make greater use of large and more complex data sets, AI is increasingly being used in business intelligence to provide augmented analytics, to forecast and improve future processes, and to help businesses make informed, insights-driven decisions. For example, AI-powered conversational analytics will allow business users to ask questions about their data in their natural language (e.g. like talking to Siri or Cortana), and the engine will be able to interpret the question and respond within seconds, giving less technical users greater analytical literacy.

AI and machine learning technology is also increasingly finding its way into cybersecurity systems, such as next-gen endpoint protection. These tools can collect data from a company’s own transactional systems, communications networks and other digital activity and utilise AI to recognise patterns and identify and respond automatically to suspicious or threatening activity.

How can we help?

From transitioning to 5G, to implementing remote working and cloud solutions, and keeping your digital assets and activity secure, our team can help.

Contact us below to enquire how we can help your business prepare technologically for 2021.