NZ Fry Up: NZ keeping pace in hybrid-working stakes; Software on a roll; Transformation is personal; Telco forum looking for new chief

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

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NZ keeping pace in hybrid-working stakes

About a third of us are likely to be working from home. Unisys and IDC have put out a survey of business leaders on digital workplaces which notes that Aotearoa wasn’t too shabby in adopting hybrid working before the pandemic—at least compared to a few others in the Asia-Pacific region.

Before the pandemic, 5.2% of the workforce across Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore worked remotely—the highest of the four regions surveyed. “COVID-19 forced a rapid move to remote working in 2020, with more than one third (36%) of this workforce working remotely by November 2020. Based on this experience, the majority of employers (74%) and employees (70%) agree that working remotely is just as, or more, productive than working in an office,” the report says.

While this is interesting enough, the stat on what IT leaders think about new technologies is possibly more insightful. In response to a question on what technologies will provide the most benefit to their organisations, the most popular tech are 5G and the internet of things, with 52% of respondents keen on these telco-enabled networks. This was followed closely by artificial intelligence at 50% and security at 48%. The least beneficial new technology, according to this survey, is robotics, with only 23% percent of respondents seeing the value.

Software on a roll

Meanwhile, IT professionals continue to spend big on software, at least in New Zealand and Australia. Once again, our friends at IDC have done the numbers and according to their software tracker the total 2020 software spend for this part of the world reached US$13 billion, up 7% from 2019. Mostly this occurred in the the second half of 2020, when there was a strong rebound, growing by 12% year on year, compared to 3% growth in the first half of the year.

Anastasia Antonova, a senior market analyst at IDC Australia and New Zealand, says the spend is an indication that its full speed ahead on digital transformation to “address weak spots uncovered by the COVID-19 pandemic, building business resiliency, and investing in the next normal.”

The ‘collaborations market’ is a standout, recording year-on-year growth of 32% in 2020, while AI platforms also grew 27% as “companies invest to beef up business agility and build a more adaptive operation model to cope with fast-changing market conditions,” Antonova says.

Transformation is personal, not only digital

The software splurge is put down to digital transformation projects, but IT leadership isn’t just about picking the best tech, it’s also about understanding cultural shifts. Not so readily understood is that personal transformation can be necessary for those leaders expected to spearhead organisational change.  

Steve James, head of IT at Countdown, spoke about his own personal experience of evolving as a leader at the recent Reseller News Influencer Network event. “The leaders of the past are not the leaders we need for tomorrow. The command-and-control style that we refer to in the years’ past is not something that is going to work any more. The leaders of the future use their power differently. They share power and by sharing power, they gain power,” he says.

Telco forum looking for new chief

After seven years as head of the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum, Geoff Thorn has resigned and left the (virtual) building.

We are reliably informed that a recruitment process is “well advanced” and an appointment will be made soon. Whoever gets the job will oversee a bunch of practice codes that enable the telco industry to function, such as IP interconnection and UFB ethernet access service standards. But they won’t have to wonder too much about regulatory changes to stuff like number portability, public switched telephone network, or mobile colocation, because the Commerce Commission has decided to keep regulating those services for the foreseeable future.

Thorn finished up with the TCF (seasoned telco watchers will recall it was once called the Telecommunications Carriers Forum) at the end of April after his resignation was announced to members in February 2021. “It was a very rewarding seven years, and a real privilege to work with an industry which has provided such great support to New Zealanders, particularly over the last 12 months which has been challenging for all of us,” Thorn says.

TCF board member and Spark CEO Jolie Hodson says Thorn has “led the industry through a period of significant regulatory change, establishing a system of self-regulatory codes that continue to serve us today, building strong relationships with regulators, ministries, and government, and acting as the voice of the industry on matters of shared importance. Most recently, Geoff led a coordinated response to the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, which required the industry to step up and respond to a never-before-seen surge in demand for our services and our support,” she says.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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