NZ Fry Up: Top concerns for IT leaders; Questions raised over supply chain slavery laws; Ports of Auckland $64M automation failure; IT leadership moves

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our correspondent in the Central North Island.

NZ friday fry up logo
Getty Images

Access to skills, cybersecurity, and supply chain resilience top IT leader priorities for 2022

Digital business leaders surveyed for the “Aotearoa’s Digital Priorities in 2022” report revealed the skills gap, retention of staff, and attracting talent as the biggest technology challenges their organisations will face this year.

According to the report from Technology Users Association of New Zealand (Tuanz), cybersecurity and enabling a secure hybrid workplace remained key priorities and mitigating supply chains issues is another key for digital leaders as they have faced shortages of tech products and hardware.

NZTech raises concerns about compliance burden on SMEs of proposed anti-slavery laws

Industry body NZTech has urged caution on how compliance with proposed legislation to reduce modern slavery and worker exploitation in supply chains could burden smaller New Zealand businesses.

In a submission to the New Zealand Government on its legislative response to modern slavery and worker exploitation, NZTech said it supports efforts to minimise slavery in supply chains and acknowledges the role private sector companies play in doing so. However, it cautions compliance with the proposed legislation could place a disproportional burden on smaller New Zealand businesses who have little visibility of, and very little influence to change, any slavery and worker exploitation in the supply chains of the tech product they use.

The proposed legislation would create new responsibilities across the operations and supply chains of organisations in New Zealand, with more responsibilities for larger organisations.

All organisations would be required to take action if they become aware of modern slavery or worker exploitation.

In its submission, NZTech asked that the government consider a proportional risk-based approach to reduce the burden on small businesses of complying with the legislation.

“While we acknowledge that the same risks are present in the supply chains of small and large businesses, we are concerned that compliance with the proposal as currently drafted would simply be beyond the resources of many small businesses.”

NZtech said that while it agrees that larger entities should be required to do more to address modern slavery in their supply chains, it did not support the introduction of a penalty framework, but suggested an approach that encourages companies to engage and address issues related to modern slavery in their supply chain.

IT leadership moves

Qrious, Spark Business Group’s AI and data analytics business, has promoted Christopher Laing to the role of chief technology officer. Laing was previously the company’s director of AI and data science.

Qrious CEO Stephen Ponsford formerly held the CTO role until he became CEO earlier this year. Qrious said the CTO role has been shaped to leverage Laing’s experience and his ‘software-and-systems-first’ approach which was an ideal fit for the next step in its journey as a data transformation company.

Insurance firm Tower has appointed Greg Moore as its new chief digital and data officer. Moore was previously chief digital officer at 2degrees Mobile. In a statement, Tower said Moore brings over 20 years’ experience in the digital and data sector to Tower, from a range of industries including insurance, telecommunications, motoring and tourism.

Will costly Ports of Auckland failure cast shadow on automation projects?

Following the revelation last week that Ports of Auckland will write off $65 million of investment in a container terminal automation project has raised doubts about the viability of such projects and if this provides a very expensive lesson others can learn from.

The ports company, owned by Auckland Council, announced last week its major container terminal would return to fully manual operation after it abandoned a project, started in 2014, to automate 27 container-carrying straddle carriers.

As outlined by Reseller News, the project was plagued by difficulties from the start, which more recently were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and incidents such as cranes toppling over a retaining wall.

In the end the board decided to end the project with Ports of Auckland chair Jan Dawson stating the board no longer had “confidence in the projected timeline or cost to completion”.

What does this mean for the future of large automation projects? Writing on IT Professional’s Tech Blog, technology commentor Peter Griffin writes that the Ports of Auckland “debacle won't do anything to inspire confidence in company leaders who are being urged to automate”.

The investigation launched into the project’s failure could prove to be an instructional case study of the things to avoid when embarking on a major automation process, Griffin writes,“...the investigation should serve as an opportunity not to pin blame on various people, but to fully understand the processes, technology and leadership failures that led to such a costly mess.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon