NZ Fry Up: What to name a robot?; Automation in the library; Hi-Tech Awards finalists

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

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What to name a robot?

Appreciate that as we go into a long weekend and given that it is the first day of a certain month (although this is no joke), it may be time to tackle the topic of how to name a robot.

It’s not an opportunity a whole lot of us get to have, so when people do its worth asking why they chose a particular moniker. Did they opt for an acronym? Was it inspired by a movie?

So it is that we asked Mercy Radiology CEO Lloyd McCann why the organisation chose to name the robots in their RPA deployment Matilda (first to arrive) and Rob-E.

Turns out the robots were named by staff. Matilda is because the finance team involved in the RPA deployment liked the name. “It’s about making this robotic worker part of the team, because the finance team get emails from, so she is literally part of the team,” he says.

As for Rob-E, it was named after the HR manager responsible for its initial implementation. The organisation has form in naming robots after staff members. Its chatbot Susie is in honour of its first employee.

So, there you have it, another way to name a robot—as a tribute to colleagues past and present.

Automation and jobs in the library

When RPA was first deployed at Mercy Radiology, McCann says some staff were concerned they’d be replaced by technology. Instead, their roles have improved, as much of mundane stuff has been taken over by Matilda and Rob-E, freeing them to get on with more interesting tasks than processing invoices and deciphering doctors’ handwriting.

McCann points out that staff concerns are critical when organisation leaders look to automate tasks. And such concerns will likely be on the minds of the Far North District Council as they deploy automation technology in six libraries.

“Far North District Libraries are seeking to transform and modernise the libraries’ service delivery via full migration of all six libraries to RFID and customer self-check operating models. This project’s goal is to create efficiencies as outlined in the Future Libraries Strategy that allows a positive refocus of skilled staff time away from routine transactional services into transformational programming services,” tender documents note.

Among the council’s list of requirements are 120,000 tags for the deployment across libraries in Paihia, Kawakawa, Kaikohe, Kerikeri, Kaeo, and Kaitaia, as many as eight self-service kiosks, and that the vendor’s software be able to configure and operate successfully with the Kotui/Symphony Workflows learning management system.

Hi-Tech Awards finalists

The New Zealand tech community gathered in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch yesterday evening to hear who made the cut as finalists in the Hi-Tech Awards. Presiding over the event(s) was new Chair David Downs, who’s had a long involvement in the local tech scene. Not only through his day jobs at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and before that Microsoft NZ, but in projects such as SOS Business, which he began in COVID-19 lockdown Level 4 as a way to help small businesses.

Downs notes in the Hi-Tech Awards finalist announcement that throughout the pandemic the tech sector has “proven its resilience and is at the forefront of our export economy both in terms of the jobs being created and the revenue its generating for the country.”

There is a smattering of new companies amongst the award categories, which points to a healthy environment. This won’t surprise regular Computerworld New Zealand readers given there are more than 500 New Zealand SaaS companies exporting their intellectual property. Also of note is that, under the Xero Hi-Tech Young Achiever award category, four of the five finalists are women.

The most hotly contested category is likely to be the PwC Hi-Tech Company of the Year, and this year the finalists are Bluelab, F&P Healthcare, Link Engine Management, Pushpay, Rocket Lab, and Seequent.

The winners in this year’s Hi-Tech Awards will be announced in May. Good luck to all!

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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