Eye EYE (c) 2016 Pixabay / cocoparisienne https://pixabay.com/en/eye-blue-eye-iris-pupil-face-1173863/ Several interesting pieces of research were published this week. They included Epicor publishing an innovative piece of research that looked at the opinions of manufacturing workers in the US rather than manufacturing leaders. It threw up some interesting insights. Salesforce looked at evidence-based decision-making and how companies say they are doing it, but few seem to be.

The Access Group

The Access Group took a different view to research home working, looking at the best towns in the UK for hybrid workers. It considered nine data points, including broadband speed, the average number of people in a house and house prices. The best locations are Swansea, Sunderland and Norwich. The worst are Slough, Wolverhampton and Luton.

Claire Scott, Chief Employee Success Officer at The Access Group said: “Government figures suggest that people who worked remotely during the pandemic are overwhelmingly in favour of hybrid working – which is no surprise given the freedom and flexibility it can bring. But just as we saw during the pandemic, not everybody’s experience of it is positive.

“Hybrid working is still in its infancy and there are many questions about how it can work for both businesses and employees. Our index suggests it’s created new barriers for some people that didn’t exist when everyone was office-based, including wide regional variations.

“While employers don’t have control over house prices or broadband providers, by listening to their employees they can put ways of working in place that supports employees to get the best out of hybrid working.

“The right technology gives people the freedom to choose a location where they can work most effectively, whether it be at home, the office or a coffee shop, so they don’t get left behind.  By facilitating hybrid working, technology that gives people instant access to the information they need, from anywhere, can also drive social mobility, giving people access to a wider job market in major cities without the high cost of living there.”


The Chartered IIA and Airmic have issued a new report, ‘Navigating geopolitical risk,’ published in partnership with AuditBoard. The report is aimed at encouraging boards, internal audit, and risk management to work closer together in tackling the risks associated with geopolitical events.

The report highlights several recommendations, including:

  • Boards, internal audit, and risk management must recognise geopolitical risk as a strategic risk to the business.
  • Scenario planning and horizon scanning are key to preparing for geopolitical risk.
  • Boards, internal audit, and risk management must be agile in responding to ‘once-in-a-generation events’ occurring with regular frequency.
  • Boards, internal audit, and risk management must work closer together as partners in geopolitical risk governance.
  • Internal audit and risk professionals must speak up and say the unthinkable about geopolitical risk and potential scenarios.

Anne Kiem OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors said: “With geopolitical risk still growing in severity, business leaders must learn lessons from the conflict in Ukraine, by making sure they are properly prepared for the next big crisis that could be coming down the track. Internal auditors, working in partnership with risk management, have a vital role to play in supporting organisations preparedness for major geopolitical incidents.”


90% of accounting and internal audit firms struggle to hire and retain skilled accountants and auditors. Some firms are now turning away business because of the shortage. These findings are the basis of two reports by Caseware international.

The  2023 State of Accounting Firms Trends Report and 2023 State of Internal Audit Trends Report– offer a glimpse into how accounting firms and internal auditors worldwide adjust to changing business environments. Responses were gathered from more than 4,100 accountants and 2,300 auditors.

Staffing issues are worsening, with 35% citing finding talent as one of the three biggest challenges compared to 14% last year. Worryingly 85% of accountants and 90% of auditors struggle to retain staff.

David Osborne, CEO at Caseware, commented, “With unemployment rates at historic lows, it’s not surprising that accounting firms and audit teams are having difficulty finding and retaining staff.

“Companies seeking top talent need to employ innovative strategies to address this challenge, such as improving compensation, implementing more flexible work policies and adopting technologies that allow staff to work more creatively and efficiently.”

The reports also look at technology usage and offer insights into how firms might attract and retain staff moving forward. However, the challenge is that there are fewer accountants around today than there were.


A poll of 265 people working in senior management and leadership roles at medium and large businesses in the UK by CIPHR, studied stress. 47% admitted that their job is causing them to suffer the “Sunday scaries”. 29% say they experience the phenomenon several times a year. For 13%, the issue is a common occurrence every month, and for 5%, it occurs weekly. Is this a new phenomenon? Probably not, but it is one of the factors that CIPHR looked at.

Management is stressful, with 98% of senior management and leaders admitting they feel stressed about something. The report looks at 15 causes of stress. The top five are:

  • Cost of living crisis (30%)
  • High inflation and rising prices (29%)
  • Exhaustion/burnout (22%)
  • Economic downturn (20%)
  • Workload and to-do lists (20%)

Claire Williams, chief people officer at CIPHR, says: “Since the pandemic, and with the ongoing impact of the cost-of-living crisis, there has been a lot of focus on the importance of alleviating workplace stress and what employers can do to safeguard their employees’ mental health. But less is said, perhaps, about the huge pressures that people in senior management and leadership roles feel and how stress impacts them.

“It is, however, important for organisations to be really mindful of the influence that work has on an individual’s stress levels – especially if they are senior management or the CEO – as they may be less likely to discuss how they are feeling. The best way to support them is for organisations to work proactively with their senior managers to either help relieve those stresses, where possible, or give them tools and strategies to cope with those stresses in a more targeted and positive way.”


Newly named brand Marigold published its 2023 Consumer Trends Index report. It found that loyalty program participation increased by 52% year over year. The report was based on a survey of 1,500 consumers within the US. Other key findings included:

  • 72% of US consumers are prepared to pay more to purchase from their preferred brands.
  • Nearly half of the respondents are concerned about the cost of living crisis and the economic outlook. 48% of consumers will consider the impact of loyalty program benefits before deciding.
  • 86% of US consumers favour brands that deliver personalized messages and will readily share zero-party data to keep those coming.
  • Email remains the most effective channel for driving sales, with 55% purchasing something following an email
  • 57% of US consumers state they find retargeting ads creepy rather than cool.

Tim Glomb, VP of Content at Marigold, commented, “It’s more important than ever for marketers to properly plan and forecast how they will evolve their relationships with consumers and the role loyalty plays into all marketing initiatives. The voice of the consumer is one of the most important signals a brand can consider when building a roadmap for success.

“This year’s U.S. report version, based on the Consumer Trends Index research, arms marketers of all stripes with the data they need to inform their relationship marketing strategies and ultimately impact their bottom line.”

“This report offers brands an extraordinary opportunity to assess their ability to create and execute campaigns that meet and exceed consumers’ growing demand for more personalization, more privacy and a deeper relationship with the brands they know and trust. How brands respond will impact their bottom line in both the short and long term.”


Outreach published its quarterly Sales Index. It revealed that respondents continue to have a positive outlook regarding their ability to grow their revenue in the short and long term, despite a turbulent economy. 82% of sales leaders in January expect to increase revenue in the current quarter, down slightly from 85% of respondents in October. Only 3% of the January respondents expect a slight decrease in revenue in the current quarter, up slightly from 1% in October.

Manny Medina, CEO and co-founder of Outreach, commented, When you read today’s headlines, there’s a general consensus of a softening across all markets. However, the data from our survey shows that, across industries, B2B sales leaders remain bullish in their ability to drive growth.

“What I’m seeing is that fear and uncertainty are causing longer deal cycles, and more approvals — all the way up to the CFO — are needed to get a deal done. This environment makes it very difficult for sales leaders to accurately forecast their pipeline, but deals happen when sellers focus on solving a distinct business problem for their customers.”


OutSystems has published its “Cloud-Native Development Report: The High Cost of Ownership.” It found the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a traditionally developed cloud-native approach is, on average, $5.6 million and can take 18 months. The report broke down costs into infrastructure environment costs and application development costs.

Patrick Jean, CTO of OutSystems, said, “Cloud-native applications have the clear advantage over legacy software. There’s no debate that cloud-native applications respond to the market faster, offer better user experience and provide superior scalability and resilience.

“But this shift also represents an overhaul of the traditional software development process – one that most companies are not equipped to handle. High-performance low-code offers a way to dramatically accelerate the entire process as well as reduce the strain on developers and minimize the overall total cost of ownership.”

The report looks at how the OutSystems Developer Cloud (ODC) can help organisations reduce the cost of cloud development.


Xero published the Small Business Index for Aotearoa,  Australia, and the UK. The results in Aotearoa (NZ) were the weakest sales since September 2021. Overall small business sales were flat in January 2023, with the largest year-on-year (y/y) declines in agriculture (-7.2% y/y), retail trade (-5.1% y/y) and professional services (-2.4% y/y). Wage growth also fell; the overall index was 105, down 39 points since November 2021.

Bridget Snelling, Xero country manager, commented, “The falling sales numbers are worse when you factor in inflation. Using the CPI as a proxy for prices means the average Kiwi small business is currently operating with their sales volume down 7.2%. The cost of living crisis is a big part of this slowdown as small businesses continue to sell fewer goods and services than a year ago.”

Wage pressures are also easing in Australia, rising just 2.9%. Overall the index was 93 points, down 26 points since November. Sales again were relatively flat.

Will Buckley, Country Manager, Xero Australia, said: “This latest data from our Index shows that Australian small businesses are beginning to feel the impact of cost of living pressures on their customers. We are seeing a slowdown in sales that will be putting pressure on small businesses who are recovering from a demanding few years. This then flows through to their capacity to increase wages and attract staff.”

In the UK, wages and sales grew (4.8% and 5.1%, respectively). Employment is increasing, and the index rose by 7 to 89 points. However, the payments are getting later. The time to pay rose 0.6 days to 30.5 days in January.

Alex von Schirmeister, UK Managing Director, Xero, said: “Despite increasing wages and some improvement in employment levels, we know that small businesses are still struggling to find the workers they need. National vacancy levels have softened but are still high by historical standards. This is forcing many business owners to offer larger pay rises to keep or attract new staff.

“It’s unacceptable that payment times to small businesses continue to rise. The outcome of the UK government’s late payments consultation cannot come soon enough – small businesses are critical to our economy and communities, but can’t drive UK growth without stricter policies to protect them.”

Research from the week beginning 13th February 2023



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