NZ Fry Up: NZ PC sales zoom; Skills hui for IT jobs; better scheduling for students and the governor general

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

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New Zealand PC sales zoom ahead

It’s official: According to IDC, New Zealand’s traditional PC market experienced its strongest year in 2020. Shipments of commercial PCs increased by 18.3% year on year, while consumer PCs grew by 5.2% year on year.

“With COVID-19 came a surge in demand for notebooks as schools and businesses scrambled to work and learn from home. This was then followed by increased demand in the consumer market, as savings from lockdowns and a lack of international tourism meant consumers had greater discretionary incomes and a need for entertainment and online learning,” says Liam Landon, an associate market analyst at IDC New Zealand.

The top spot in the market in the final quarter for 2020 was claimed by HP, followed by Acer Group and Lenovo.

But the growth won’t last. “IDC predicts that New Zealand's traditional PC market will reverse its current trend, declining by 5.5% in 2021 after a substantial year. The commercial market will slow while the consumer market is expected to grow year on year as households trend to one device per person,” Landon says.

Skills hui: Planning for local IT development

If there is one thing the New Zealand IT and tech sector really excels at, it’s the proliferation of interest groups. There are groups for professionals, startups, vendors, technologies, users, and on it goes. All with their own events. This used to mean you could keep yourself watered and fed five days a week if you signed up to every one of them.

But that was before COVID 19; now, everything takes place in a virtual world where you have to bring along your own snacks.

So it is that the latest event to catch our eye is the “Exploratory hui on skills”, coordinated by IT Professionals, the group leading the skills work stream on the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan. Which is itself a kind of private-public partnership on creating a strategy for promoting and reforming New Zealand’s technology sector.

The hui will be run entirely on Zoom and consist of eight sessions on topics such as Māori and iwi engagement, the schooling system, and skills definitions frameworks.

“These are not talkfests,” says IT Professionals CEO Paul Matthews in a blog post to its members, urging them to take part. A backgrounder explains that post-hui a steering group will be formed to “define, prioritise, and partially quantify the proposed actions from each of the discussions. The Steering Group will then undertake a wide consultation exercise to test the direction of travel, then use this input to put together a proposed work programme which will form the key skills recommendations in the Industry Transformation Plan. This work programme will include a mix of ‘quick win’ short-term actions and longer projects and initiatives.”

It’s good to be careful when it comes to consultation, but you do wonder if by the time this whole process is complete, the pandemic will be over, the borders will be open again, and tech companies will go back to sourcing talent globally.

The Digital Skills Aotearoa Report put out by NZ Tech earlier this year noted that in 2019, 3,265 students graduated with computer science, IT, or software engineering degrees, while only 352 students were able to get internships after 2,699 registered for the opportunity. Meanwhile, 2,683 visas were approved for IT professionals to immigrate to New Zealand.

Unifying student schedules

Some days. it’s hard enough to coordinate your own diary, let alone that of 12,500 people, so it makes sense that you’d seek assistance in software.

That appears to be the rationale the University of Waikato’s latest IT requirement: software that will enable all its students to be create a personalised timetable. In a request for tender, it is looking for a system that lets students build their own timetable online instead of using cobbling it together via the university’s student management system, the open source learning management tool Moodle, and other systems.

From the university’s perspective, they will be able to “gather more data about how many students should be in any room at a given time and a central master data record of individual student timetables”.

The university has a track record of keeping track of its students. In August 2020, it deployed a ‘Check in before you step in’ programme for COVID-19 contact tracing that was built on the Salesforce platform in partnership with Datacom. In common with the public COVID-tracing app, students could use the camera on their smartphone to scan in at more than 5,000 checkin points.

Highest levels of statecraft moving away from paper

Mention of crowded diaries, the governor general keeps busy with as many as 40 engagements a month, or 480 events a year! We know this because Government House — which is actually two properties, one in Wellington the other in Auckland — is looking for event-management software.

Apparently, the events are currently being managed via spreadsheets and paper, and in 2021 that’s not cutting it for a national organisation that “operates at the highest level of statecraft”, according to the tender documents.

In short, Government House is after a software-as-a-service, off-the-shelf application that can detail happenings at both properties and in which all those who need to know can access and update information via their mobile.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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