It’s that time of the year again. Everyone is planning and finalising their roadmaps for 2023. Typically these will lean heavily on product releases and upgrades and functionality enhancements. However, what is often mistakenly overlooked is the technology and engineering focus these plans should include if you want to keep your brand current and looking forward.
To help ensure that you incorporate these critical areas into your 2023 strategy, I have selected the 6 essentials that need to be on your roadmap.
While cybersecurity isn’t a new trend, what I witness across our industry is a heightened sense of awareness about the collective vulnerabilities resulting from moving and expanding operations online exposes. Every company is vulnerable to a cyber attack. In 2021, 61% of SMBs were the target of a cyber attack and 82% of ransomware attacks were against companies with less than 1,000 employees.
As a matter of urgency, we recommend to all of our clients that they take proactive measures to limit the potential of an attack, particularly now that these groups are getting more sophisticated. The pervasiveness of remote working further exposes opportunities and areas of weakness, so companies must implement cybersecurity awareness training for all their staff.
When planning this training, be sure to include the following topics:
- work-from-home cybersecurity
- the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in cyber defence
- insider threats
- zero trust architecture.
In addition to educating the entire workforce, companies should prioritise establishing a dedicated function for cybersecurity, whether in-house or through a specialist third-party.
Every company is vulnerable to a cyber attack
Again, not new, but many companies have not embraced accessibility beyond a very superficial level. According to the latest research, almost two-thirds of major websites in Ireland are inaccessible to over 600,000 people with disabilities. That’s why it is time to change that and make 2023 the year to review your site and digital products and services to ensure they all meet accessibility guidelines. Without an accessible site you are cutting off a large consumer market, and also might be falling foul of new or upcoming regulations. In fact, over the last decade, many lawsuits have been filed by individuals with disabilities claiming that businesses' websites are not accessible to them. My colleague Zonja St. Clair takes a close look at why accessibility matters and how companies can ensure their sites are open to all in Making the web accessible and addressing common errors.
3. Accelerate mobile pages (AMP)
One of the biggest gripes of users is the speed at which a page appears on their screen. Most will click away if your page takes too long to load. Your site’s speed also plays a huge role when it comes to attracting new users through organic search. Google and other search engines prioritise sites that serve up content quickly, especially on mobile devices. Therefore you must build accelerated mobile pages into your site if you are going to compete on SEO and user experience.
People expect mobile page load times to be short
4. Two-factor authentication (2FA)
With increasing incidences of identity theft, I strongly encourage all companies to implement 2FA, a type of multi-factor authentication, into their business practices. It is an efficient way to strengthen access security by requiring two methods, or authentication factors, to verify an individual’s identity. Most of us are familiar with the process because banks typically require this extra level of security, or authentication, for online payments. You can set up 2FA using either a short message service (SMS) or an authentication app and instantly give your users peace of mind that you are serious about securing their data.
Consumers have set, and typically high, expectations about their digital experiences. Specifically, they want them to be:
All of which a well-trained conversational chatbot delivers. It offers accessibility through text-to-speech services and traditional typing entry, is always-on unlike customer service agents, will, if trained properly, always provide the correct information and bring a greater degree of personalisation to your brand.
6. Voice Search
Whether through smartphones, or smart speakers in homes, voice search is quickly becoming the default search choice of more and more people. As a result, your site’s content and page structure must be designed to facilitate this type of enquiry.
Review your site with the following in mind:
- do you have conversational keywords throughout your content?
- is there a complete FAQ section?
- do you have multiple languages?
- is your google business profile up to date?
Technologies that are still too early to prioritise
Despite the amount of airtime the following areas receive, I believe they are only for early adopters and as high-risk investments could result in a lot of money going to waste.
What is the metaverse and what is its purpose? The answers to these questions vary wildly from a playground for Facebook to the next stage of immersive virtual interactions. The truth is the metaverse is in its infancy. What it is, what it will become, and who it ends up serving are all unknown. If a business is investing time and effort in 2023, I don't see a return on that money any time soon. I recommend waiting until those with deep research and development (R&D pockets) demonstrate some actual value-returning use cases.
Blockchain remains an enigma to most people
Blockchain, crypto, bitcoin, call it what you will it remains an enigma to most. When I hear companies say they are investing in it I wonder why. The crypto market is volatile and is open to corruption and scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), since the start of 2021 over $1 billion in crypto has reportedly been lost to scams, more than any other payment method. So while Blockchain was touted as the answer to financial crime, so far that is not the case. Blockchain again will develop it’s use cases, but they will be specific, more than likely in highly regulated industries. I don’t believe it will be central to most businesses' operations.
3. Non-fungible tokens (NFT)
Built on the back of blockchain technology, this form of digital ownership garnered a lot of attention in 2021 and NFTs quickly grew in “value”. However, along with cryptocurrency, throughout 2022, these items have seen their value drop dramatically. NFTs will in time have a place in the world to perhaps allow creative people to sell their work without the need for a middleman. The market will first need to settle, and we will need to see a greater acceptance and understanding of the technology involved by people beyond those already invested in crypto and the metaverse. It's another one for companies to watch closely, but investing time in it yet will yield little value.
Niamh Cloak 7 mins
Clare Hatfield7 mins
Lynda Rice8 mins