The New Zealand Tech Alliance is a group of independent technology associations from across New Zealand that work together to ensure a strong voice for technology.Visit Tech Alliance
The technology sector in New Zealand continues to grow rapidly and is a key enabler and accelerator on all fronts for the rest of the economy. I am very fortunate to be part of it and humbled by the latest opportunity to make a difference. First and foremost, our Deputy Chair Rachel Kelly and I would like to acknowledge the hard work and successes contributed by the previous Chair of NZTech, Bennett Medary. In our new roles, we are fortunate to inherit a top-performing team of board members, CEO Graeme Muller, advisors and staff. Today, NZTech and our partners are a rapidly growing alliance representing over 400 organisations across the sector. Certainly, there is much to celebrate as plenty has been achieved by and for our sector. However, so far, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. There is still room for us to achieve much more together, so there is plenty more to be done;
Broadening scope of engagement
Our recently released Digital Nation research recognises that the technology sector doesn’t just make up a significant and fast-growing part of our economy, but impacts productivity, growth, advancement and internationalisation of all other sectors. As such, we need to increase the level of engagement between technology and the rest of the economy. Much of the current engagement still only occurs at operational levels where technology businesses are seen as suppliers of a function to be performed. This needs to be expanded and elevated to where we are engaged as strategic partners – enabling, empowering, transforming and accelerating business and innovation, as well as creating entirely new ways of doing business and landscapes of opportunities.
Coming together as a diverse sector
Technology pervades our entire economy and connects us with the rest of the world. Consequentially, we are very diverse within ourselves as a sector, reflecting the diversity of the economy of today, as well as creating new dimensions for tomorrow. It is important to recognise and embrace this diversity, which is represented in the many industry ecosystems, areas of specialisation, professional associations, interest groups, business clusters and innovation hubs that make up the technology sector. What will make us stronger, better connected, more symbiotic, synergised and cohesive, is for us to continue to come together and become a more closely-knit sector. This is not simply about becoming one industry organisation, but rather embracing our diversity, innovating and pioneering in all kinds of directions, whilst working together as a dynamic being, leveraging collective strengths to seize opportunities together and rapidly evolve with the rest of the world.
Strengthening regional connections
Outside of the Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury regions, our technology sector is still not widely and strongly connected. Greater connections between main centres and the regions around the country will both strengthen the sector, as well as our ability to engage with other sectors who have strong regional presence or dependencies. There is clearly more to be done in this area of development and it is a real asset to us that our Deputy Chair, Rachel Kelly is from the Waikato, and is passionate about the opportunity to connect with the regions.
Including and embracing start-ups
In recent years, New Zealand’s favourable environment for start-ups has been producing a rapidly increasing number of new businesses that are ‘born tech’. However, actually growing a business presents many more challenges than just starting one. Just as large enterprises often have synergies with SME’s, established technology businesses have much to offer as well as to gain from start-ups, and vice versa. Establishing and growing connections between start-ups and established businesses will both strengthen and accelerate the growth of the overall sector. There is plenty of scope for work here, and we are fortunate to have our latest board member Robett Hollis as a real asset in this area of development, so watch this space.
Growing international connections
Being a small economy, many of our businesses in the technology sector innovate for the global market. It is vital that we continue working to increase and expand our connection with the rest of the world. Technology has traditionally been lacking as part of the New Zealand story that we have been projecting to the world, especially in, but not limited to, regions such as Asia, where large local and regional digital economies and technology consumption appetites have been growing exponentially in recent years. This too has to change. Growing international connections will give us greater access to new markets, customers, investment capital, talent and other resources to support and accelerate growth of not just our technology sector but the rest of the economy. I have been directly involved in numerous collaborations to accelerate Kiwi tech presence and engagement in Vietnam and the ASEAN region and encourage other members of our sector to do the same with other high-value markets and regions around the world.
Growing human capital capacity
Limited human capital is one of our biggest challenges as the technology sector continues to serve and innovate for both domestic and international markets. We simply do not have enough skilled resource in New Zealand to support growing business operations as well as to rapidly develop and deliver new innovation to the world, where speed-to-market is the most important critical success factor. There is much to do to grow our in-country resource base through developing, attracting and retaining talent, as well as to increase our ability to work more effectively with international resources. Coming from a strong Do-It-Yourself culture, it is critical for our growth that we open up and work more with others, both in New Zealand and overseas.
Promoting and empowering women in tech
Half of our total human capacity is female, yet there are disproportionally few women working in technology, training for it, or even interested in it. NZTech Women is leading a range of collaborative activities in this area, an important area of development for our sector. We are fortunate to have a number of our board members leading and supporting our work, as well as an energetic and passionate female board member in our Deputy Chair role.
Working with government
In addition to actively participating in GovTech and contributing with a huge spending on ICT, government also plays other vital roles in growing our technology sector. Central government shapes policy and brings to bear our national resources as well as international diplomatic relationships and trade links. Local governments and their economic development agencies have reach and engagement with businesses, hubs and ecosystems in their areas. It is essential that we continue to work closely with government as part of our ecosystem, to broaden our engagement with government partners both domestically and internationally. Our board members representing government agencies play a key role in these relationships.
Collectively, our board and our members see these areas of challenge and opportunities as important to our sector as well as the economy of New Zealand as a whole. As a growing community, NZTech is well positioned to continue working on these areas, together with our members, partners, sector and the rest of the country. In our new chairing roles, Rachel and I are both proud and excited to be working closely with Graeme, to build on, lead and energise the organisation forward across all areas of engagement.
Chair of NZTech.
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