NZ Fry Up: Hybrid workplace future; Big changes in NZ (digital) health; Snackable self-learning; 5G stadium

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

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Microsoft forecasts a hybrid workplace future

If you were a ‘hyperscaler’ that owned one of the world’s most popular business social networking sites, imagine the data you could gather (anonymously, of course)? What insights you could share with the rest of us?

Question no longer; the answers have arrived in the form of Microsoft’s first-ever Work Trend Index, a study of 30,000 people in 31 countries that “analyses trillions of aggregate productivity and labour signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn.”

The result of all that data is that the next big trend is hybrid—working, that is. Which most of us probably already knew, but some of the stats on the New Zealand workforce are interesting. Apparently, it’s a good time for leaders, but not so much for followers, as 76% of leaders in Aotearoa says they are thriving right now—35% higher than those without decision-making power. While 51% of New Zealand workers feel overworked, 45% feel exhausted. And Generation Z (18- to 25-year-olds) seem to be doing it hard, with 54% of this generation saying they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling.

“Aggregate trends across billions of Microsoft Team meetings and Outlook emails show interactions with our broader networks diminished with the move to remote work,” the study notes, under the subject heading ‘shrinking networks are endangering innovation’.”

This may account for the data point that shows 20% of New Zealand workers have cried with a colleague. Because although 71% of us want flexible work options, 65% crave face-to-face time. While we might not always know what we want, what is certain is that the enabling a hybrid working environment will fall to IT.

The future of health is digital

Health minister Andrew Little’s sweeping reforms that will literally sweep away 20 district health boards in favour of one national organisation called Health New Zealand, and establish a new Māori Health Authority, is a big opportunity for IT leaders in the sector. As observed many times by many people, IT in health has long been disjointed and underfunded, despite the efforts of IT teams in every one of those DHBs.

It is also a chance for IT vendors, who in New Zealand coalesce under the banner NZHIT. The organisation’s chair Kate Reid says digital tech will enable the new health system. “In 10 years’ time, people won’t believe you had to ring to make an appointment then sit in a waiting room for 45 minutes with all the associated risks this entails. Virtual healthcare can include triaging and consults over the phone, by email or video and all three must be deployed by GPs to be effective,” she says.

Leaving aside that it is actually really shocking that people do have to wait 45 minutes in the doctors’ rooms, that 10-year time frame seems optimistic. Some of us remember being told a decade ago that a national digital health record was mere months away.

The Health and Disability System Review released a year ago (and upon which Little’s reforms are based, although he has gone further than the suggestions in that report), noted that while nearly all primary providers use computer systems, they are from a range of independent providers. As a result, they are not “sufficiently joined up” to support collaboration nor produce the kind of consistent data that is useful to inform research, policy, and service development.

NZHIT put out a report recently with some sensible suggestions on how digital healthcare can be tackled—including better procurement practices. It also noted the lack of clinical chief information officers (CCIOs) in this country. Will the establishment of Health New Zealand create one CCIO to rule them all? Watch this space!

Snackable self-learning

Getting the basic tech right will be enough to be getting on with for the CCIOs under the new health structure (which is expected to be ready to go in July 2022), so they and their teams might not be lining up to learn more about IoT, blockchain, and AI. But if they do, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), a global IT professional organisation with 150,000 member with many in New Zealand, has created a new certification in emerging technology for every level of IT experience.

It’s all delivered via self-paced training course and virtual instructor-led training. The new way to learn is self-service, snackable sessions, and of course all online. The era of multiday offsite training sessions is a dim distant memory.

Welcome to the 5G stadium

The band Six60 is adding to its list of Kiwi firsts by being the first to fill (we hope for them) a 5G stadium in New Zealand. Spark customers with 5G-enabled smartphones in Eden Park’s East and West Stand, the No. 1 field, the lower South Stand, and part of the lower North Stand (so, about 75% of the Auckland stadium) are now able to instantly insta the experience.

Spark technology director Mark Beder is enthusiastic about what this means concerts to come. “In the future, 5G will completely transform the way we experience live events. This could be anything from using virtual reality to provide fans with front-row concert experiences from their couch, improving in-person experiences with augmented reality, or reducing the time waiting in a queue for drinks and food with artificial intelligence self-service checkouts.”

But until that future arrives, if you have a 5G phone and you’re off to Six60 on Saturday, be sure to sit/stand/shuffle in the right stand.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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