As the pandemic began to recede in early 2022, CIRA was faced with a whole new landscape. The pandemic focused attention on digital issues, internet services and having a robust online presence like never before.
However, as the FY23 fiscal year began, the wave that lifted many of CIRA’s activities in a material way was receding, and a new landscape was emerging; one of threats both global and local, with challenges and opportunities to match.
Rising inflation, a challenging labour market, the spectre of a recession and global instability caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine, have created an atmosphere of uncertainty. Similarly, slowing domain growth, rising cybersecurity threats, increasing competition from new technologies, and a renewed focus on internet regulation brought pressure from inside the industry itself.
CIRA is in the fortunate position of having emerged from the pandemic in good shape. In addition to seeing heightened interest in CIRA’s products, programs and services, the organization’s operations were mostly unaffected by the disruptions that sideswiped many other Canadian businesses. While .CA domain growth began to slow in FY23, it still grew at a rate higher than most of our ccTLD peers. As cybersecurity threats rose, CIRA was forced to take more precautions with its infrastructure but has also seen a renewed focus on its products in this area. In Canada, increased focus on digital regulations has the potential to transform the tech industry significantly but has also seen CIRA called upon several times to provide its expert advice as a trusted operator of critical digital infrastructure.
While many of the trends of the past few years have slowed, the lessons have provided guidance to move forward into a world that has forever changed. As the new normal emerges, it is clear that the future is digital, and while that brings with it many challenges, CIRA is well positioned to meet them and help fulfill its mandate of a trusted internet for Canadians.
Awareness of the need for a website has never been higher among small businesses. We expect this trend to continue into the future as a digital presence is now seen as essential. It is unimaginable that cyber threats will decrease in the coming years; and the need for solutions to combat them. It feels as though digital issues have broken through into the mainstream—no longer niche concerns.
In short, the path from FY23 to FY24 sees CIRA having regrouped, recalibrated, and refactored its operations to meet the demands of a post-pandemic world.
.CA maintains its path of growth, leading the industry; CyberDNS and Registry Services continue to find opportunities for CIRA’s unique combination of technical and operational knowledge; Community Investment, Policy and Advocacy remains a trusted source of expertise to help improve Canada’s internet ecosystem; and the organization continues to focus on brand building, organizational optimization and talent acquisition and retention in an ever-changing labour market.
As anticipated, FY23 saw .CA growth levels return to something closer to pre-pandemic levels. However, as has consistently been the case, .CA continues to lead the industry in growth, outpacing both the top 10 and top 30 CENTR ccTLDs.
- Continue to invest in increasing brand awareness, renewal rate and domains under management (DUMs). In addition to continuing the brand awareness advertising campaign, .CA will embark upon a number of activities to position itself for further growth. These include optimizing the performance measurement framework for the campaign, optimizing costs and leveraging market research to identify new opportunities. FY24 will also focus on enhancing the campaign test in the Great Montreal Area to better understand the opportunity in Francophone Quebec.
- Focus on expanding data analytics and predictive capabilities in order to help .CA (and CIRA) optimize reporting, provide better forecasting and find new business opportunities. Optimizing existing registrar relationships continues to be essential, but opportunities in new and emerging channels such as DIY and web builder platforms will continue to be investigated and expanded.
- Explore product innovations in new internationalized domain names (IDN) (e.g. Indigenous languages), affiliate marketing and providing value-added services for .CA registrants.
Since the adoption of CIRA’s diversified product strategy, our cybersecurity, DNS and registry products have seen steady growth in both adoption and sophistication. As we move into FY24, we look to continue the journey towards making these services self-sustaining and expanding upon their reach and capabilities.
- Continue to grow CIRA’s CyberDNS products’ subscriber base and build a foundation of multi-product customers. Customer success remains a focus, with more mature marketing campaigns, exclusive events and a revamped renewal process expected in FY24.
- Enhance customers’ overall cyber preparedness and reduce risk profiles through increased cyber product integration. A vital element of this strategy is the launch of the Cyber Analytics Reporting Portal (CARP) which will provide an analytics dashboard, integrated user experience and greater data insights by merging network data with user training and phishing simulation behaviour.
- Launch a market study to determine the direction and viability of a new product launch in cybersecurity.
- Create more custom, CIRA-owned content for cybersecurity awareness training customers. Adding vertically focused modules for industries such as healthcare and education will allow CIRA to drive greater revenue, provide a unique customer experience and differentiate itself through exclusive intellectual property.
- Continue to iterate upon the CIRA Registry Platform with enhancements to its tech stack and deployment models.
Community Investment, Policy & Advocacy
FY24 will be the first year for the fully integrated Community Investment, Policy & Advocacy (CIPA) strategy. With this new strategy in place, focus will be on activities that are close to the core of our mandate and that can be leveraged to further word towards CIRA’s goals.
- Implement CIPA’s new identity that reflects all of CIRA’s activities in the areas of community investment, policy and advocacy. The newly named Net Good by CIRA will encompass all the ways in which CIRA helps solve the problems of Canada’s internet. The goal is to help key stakeholders—including employees, members and others—better understand the purpose of CIRA’s work in this area, bolster CIRA’s brand and support other departments’ overall activities.
- Complete round ten of CIRA’s flagship grants program, focused on high-quality, high-impact community internet projects supporting rural, northern and Indigenous communities as well as projects benefiting students, with an emphasis on achieving increased geographic diversity in project intake.
- Launch an updated platform for the CIRA Internet Performance Test with an improved user experience and functionality.
- Continue to take a leadership role in enhancing the resilience of the internet as seen through the launch of an updated platform for the CIRA Internet Performance Test with an improved user experience and functionality; finalizing the Canadian Traceroute Database to glean more data on the state of the internet in Canada; and continue focus on issues relating to network resiliency through work in stakeholder groups like the Canadian Forum for Digital Infrastructure Resilience (CFDIR) and the promotion of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).
- Expand Canadian Shield, which serves millions of Canadians, through collaboration with more browsers, improving ease of access and continued promotion to get more people on the protected and family levels of service.
- Continue to lead policy and advocacy activities that position CIRA as the champion for a trusted internet in Canada and abroad.
- Demonstrate CIRA’s continued support for the multistakeholder model of internet governance through collaborations with key CIRA stakeholders (e.g., ISED) and strategic engagement in global and domestic governance bodies like ICANN and CIGF.
The engine that keeps CIRA running is its people. Our people are what make CIRA great, and by creating an engaging, values-driven culture, we will continue to be able to succeed in the market.
- Drive process efficiencies by rationalizing and optimizing many of our automated systems.
- Review CIRA’s e-commerce process with the goal of lowering friction in the buying process, contract renewal and customer scaling.
- Continue to improve CIRA’s collaboration and information management tools and processes with the goal of simplifying cross-organizational workflows.
- Launch CIRA’s environmental sustainability policy and take steps to communicate and achieve our carbon reduction targets to pave the way to a sustainable internet.
- Ensure the safe, secure and stable operation of CIRA’s services. This includes an enhanced focus on DDOS mitigation, AWS security and the continued refinement of our cloud strategy.
- Maintain a high-performing, inclusive culture through strategic investment in new talent management strategies based on trust and judgement and investments in learning, development and employee engagement.
- Refine CIRA’s hybrid model based on maximizing CIRA’s strategic and operational outcomes, employee feedback and a high-performance culture.
- Continue investments in brand partnerships and building on momentum from existing relationships with organizations like Pow Wow Pitch, Digital Main Street and Mastodon Canada.
- Complete the CIRA rebrand with the launch of a new cira.ca.