NZ Fry Up: NZ IT leaders drive business transformation; Analyst data points to growing IT spend; Telco complaints service due for an overhaul

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

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NZ IT leaders drive business transformation

Now is the not the time to be cutting the IT budget. This is what CIOs are no doubt saying to CEOs up and down the country. So too are CMOs, CFOs, CROs, and just about every CxO you can think of. But in the CIOs’ case, they have a valid point (and yes, we do admit to bias here).

Two CIO New Zealand case studies of two of New Zealand’s largest companies—Vodafone NZ and Fonterra—in the past two weeks point out the folly of cost cutting in IT. Especially in these times of talent shortages. Also, of not elevating IT to a seat at the decision makers’ table because, as we all know, an effective digital transformation lies at the heart of an organisation’s future prosperity. The time for IT to be viewed as just a cost centre must surely be over. But don’t listen to us; here’s what the IT leaders at Vodafone and Fonterra have to say.

“Once he [the CEO] looked at our [Vodafone NZ’s] top five strategic items, he realised that IT has a role to play in all of them—and not just a supporting role, but a key role. I think that was an aha moment for him,” says Vodafone NZ CIO Andrew Haddad.
“What that means is that I sit on Fraser’s [Fonterra’s COO Fraser Whineray] leadership team, so we have the head of supply chain, head of manufacturing, head of sustainability. They are all my peers. In other words, IT has now got an equal seat at the table and is much more connected to the business as opposed to being a cost recovery function in finance, which can drive some different behaviours,” says Fonterra CIO Toby Granwal on moving IT from reporting to the CFO to the COO.

Analyst data points to growing IT spend

Data from analyst firms IDC and Gartner point to IT budgets growing at a steady rate in the next few years. IDC notes: “Despite the pandemic and lockdown activities continuing through 2021, recent IDC surveys have indicated that most A/NZ businesses are continuing to invest in technology with IT spending levels to be higher in 2021.”

IDC forecasts ICT spending in New Zealand and Australia will grow by more than 2.1% to reach US$84 billion in 2021, and it expects it to reach US$93 billion by 2025 with annual growth of 2.5% forecasted to 2025.

Meanwhile, Gartner is predicting a rise government IT spending over the coming two years. As reported by Reseller News, the research firm expects government IT spending in New Zealand to grow 7.9% year-on-year to $2.6 billion. The bulk of the spending will be on the IT services segment, which is expected to grow by 7.5%, up to $1.1 billion, by 2023.

Telco complaints service due for an overhaul

Is the customer complaints service created and overseen by the Telecommunications Forum (TCF) since 2007 still fit for purpose? Telecommunications Commissioner Tristram Gilbertson doesn’t think so. As part of a new remit under the Telecommunications Act 2018 to improve the telco customer experience, he’s put the scheme under review and found it wanting.

Gilbertson has released draft recommendations to the TCF on how it can, or rather should, improve the Telecommunications Disputes Resolution Service over the next two years. The recommendations are grouped under six themes: awareness, complaint handling, systemic issues, position statement and case studies, governance, and jurisdiction. In short, it appears that pretty much everything about the service is due for an overhaul.

“There has never been a greater need for an effective industry dispute resolution mechanism—but our work shows that most consumers have never heard of the TDRS and, even if they have, they can find themselves locked out because many basic issues, including some speed and performance problems, are currently excluded,” Gilbertson says.

The commission’s recommendations, together with a report by consultancy CRK on which they are based, are out for consultation. The CRK report alone runs to 67 pages; it contains 30 findings, of which three findings can be considered positive about the scheme, two are neutral, and 25 are negative.

For its part, the TCF says it’s getting on with the job of improving the service. TCF CEO Paul Brislen issued a release on the same day as the report, noting that the TCF is working with the commission to “address the areas of concern reflected in the initial review. The TCF has already started work on a number of improvement measures for the TDRS that the commission has included in this draft, including a review of the Customer Complaints Code, reviewing governance arrangements, and significantly increasing the 2021-2022 marketing budget to boost consumer awareness of the scheme.”

Feedback on the Commerce Commission’s recommendations on improving the complaints service are due by 27 September.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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