What’s been happening recently in the Australian business landscape? What are the top news stories through June 2023 that may affect your small business? Let’s do a quick recap to keep you up to speed…

SMEs expand their interest in generative AI as employees fear job loss

According to the latest research by Zoho, SMEs are increasingly warming to generative AI.

Many SMEs are now seeing the benefits AI can bring such as improved efficiency, data-led decision-making, reduced costs, more targeted marketing, and content creation.

Zoho’s research says that 53% of Australian SMEs feel they’re adapting well to new AI technology, and 30% are using the tech more this year than in 2022.

However, with employees showing resistance and hesitation to adopt AI tools, the feeling is not mutual. 75% feel that AI will impact their roles, with 56% believing AI will perform part of their roles in the next five years. Only 36% think AI is beneficial in the workplace.

Indeed, according to a Goldman Sachs study, two-thirds of occupations could be partially automated by AI over the next decade.

In related news, Microsoft is reportedly planning on investing $10 Billion in open AI, the creators of ChatGPT.

With ChatGPT’s recent capability updates and competitors (like Apple) emerging, this alone should start to paint a picture of the impending scale of the current AI explosion and where that trajectory is heading.

Government plans to cut wasteful packaging in Australia’s retail sector with strict new rules

Australia’s battle against wasteful packaging is stepping up. In a national first to reduce waste and boost recycling, packaging will soon be subject to strict new rules moving us toward a ‘circular economy’.

From initial design through to manufacture, packaging waste will be stemmed, while the final product must meet mandatory standards of recycling and reusability.

Through production and design changes, the root-to-stem approach is set to reduce packaging waste in the first place. Furthermore, the final product will need to be designed to be recovered, re-used, recycled, or reprocessed.

Tanya Plibersek, Minister for the Environment and Water comments,

“This is about designing out packaging waste from the start. More than 70 per cent of the environmental impacts of an item are locked in at the design stage before anyone ever purchases a product, and well before reuse or disposal is considered.”

With Australia’s alarming environmental decline, water quality, and loss of species and biodiversity, it has become clear that the current voluntary standards aren’t working.

“Three million tonnes of packaging is sent to landfill each year – equivalent to around 200 billion chip packets,” says Minister Plibersek. “We have plastic packaging littering our oceans, choking animals, and taking up to 1000 years to break down in landfill.”

It’s time to achieve meaningful reduction and take responsibility for the health of our unique land and species.

Inflation is falling – now what happens to the cash rate?

The latest data from the consumer price indicator (CPI) shows that inflation has fallen in the last 12 months (until May) to 5.6%. This is compared to 6.8% in April.

A fall in the cost of fuel is largely shouldering the recent drop, reversing the fuel price rise we saw in April.

According to Michelle Marquardt from the ABS,

“Annually, automotive fuel prices fell 8 per cent in May, compared to a rise of 9.5 per cent in April.”

A dip in spending on travel and accommodation also assisted the inflation relief.

So, what does the change signal for interest rate rises? Many analysts agree that the latest data should help reduce the pressure on the RBA to raise rates next week. However, we could see pressure return if this potential rate rise pause sees further rebounds in house prices and increased consumer spending.

“The number is at the very lower end of the range of economists’ expectations which ranged from 6.9 per cent to 5.6 per cent and is soft enough by a good margin to see the RBA halt its series of rate hikes in July and possibly beyond,” commented IG’s Tony Sycamore.