NZ Fry Up: NZX puts its IT in order; Gartner forecasts growth in NZ IT spend; HR software in the spotlight

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our editor in Auckland.

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NZX puts its IT in order

It’s been a horror year on the tech front for NZX—its IT capability was slammed in a report from the Financial Markets Authority in January 2021, following a sustained DDoS attack on the exchange that lasted several days in 2020.

NZX Chair James Miller told its annual shareholders meeting that the technology committee held 41 meetings between April 2020 and December 2020. He noted this workload just before pointing out that board directors haven’t had a pay rise for 10 years. But as we all know, it’s output that matters, not the number of meetings you have.

Anyway, Miller and CEO Mark Petersen says they are working through the authority’s recommendations and have established an industry-wide IT working group to “improve engagement and communication with the wider market ecosystem on technology matters and support the development of an industry-wide technology roadmap.”

Meanwhile, Peter Jessup, a global expert in stock exchange computer systems with 23 years in senior roles at Nasdaq, has joined the board’s technology committee to “bring independent thinking and a global perspective”.

Petersen also introduced new CIO Robert Douglas to the shareholders meeting. He is almost three months into the role, having begun on 1 February 2021. Douglas’ most recent role was at Verifone, and before that he worked at ANZ Bank and First NZ Capital. The new CIO is a member of the senior leadership team, which shows that NZX may now view IT as a strategic investment, critical to business success, rather than as a tactical operation.

Gartner forecasts growth in NZ IT spend

Organisations are set to increase their IT spend this year, according to Gartner, which is predicting it will increase in New Zealand by 2.7% to $12.8 billion. This is after a 1.6% decline in IT spend last year, signalling a return to growth and representing an increase over prepandemic levels of $12.7 million in 2019.

The estimate is part of Gartner’s quarterly global tech spending forecast update, issued this week, where it predicts that global spending on IT will exceed US$4.1 trillion this year, an increase of 8.4% from 2020.

Apparently, 2020 was about ensuring IT kept the organisation working in the pandemic. This year, CIOs get to do more of the fun stuff. “Last year, IT spending took the form of a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to enable a remote workforce in a matter of weeks. As hybrid work takes hold, CIOs will focus on spending that enables innovation, not just task completion,” said John-Dave Lovelock, a distinguished research vice president at Gartner.

The highest growth in spend in New Zealand will come from enterprise software (up 7.4%) and devices (up 4.9%), as organisations shift their focus to providing a more “comfortable, innovative, and productive environment for their workforce”, Lovelock said.

Gartner breaks IT spend into five categories and provides the following estimates for 2021:

  • Data centre systems: $417 million, down 2.0% compared to 2020
  • Enterprise software: $2.6 billion (up 7.4%)
  • Devices: $1.9 billion (up 4.9%)
  • IT services: $3.9 billion (up 2.5%)
  • Communications services: $4 billion (down 0.3%)

Looking further out to 2022, all categories are expected to experience growth, with the most bullish prediction for enterprise software at 11.5%, and a return to growth for data centre systems of 4.8%.

HR software in the spotlight

Globally, Gartner is observing that the “increased focus on the employee experience and well-being are propelling technology investments forward in areas such as social software, collaboration platforms, and human capital management software.”

Investment in modern HR systems with data and analytics capability can also benefit the bottom line, as Southern Cross Health Insurance is discovering. While the deployment of a new end-to-end HR solution was well underway when the pandemic struck, it has been extremely helpful in understanding annual leave take up, as chief people and strategy officer Vicki Caisley told CIO New Zealand this week.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, annual leave at Southern Cross was starting to accrue to the point where it could have a noticeable impact at the end of the financial year. Caisley said they discovered this situation early, via the new HR system, and decided to close the office down for three weeks over the Christmas break, rather than the usual two weeks, “to force some annual leave, because we could see at the end of the year we were going to be way above what our budget for accrual needed to be. … I could never have told the business previously what the end-of-year forecast was going to be before, but I can do it on a minute-by-minute basis now.”

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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