NZ Fry Up: Health reforms focus on digital; Great resignation imperils digital transformation; Christchurch central gets free wi-fi; Employee benefits affects Datacom’s profit

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

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Digital technology a key focus of New Zealand health system reform

Enabling better use of digital technology is one of five key areas of focus for the New Zealand health system reform which came into effect in late June.

The reforms saw the disestablishment of the 20 former District Health Boards (DHBs) and the creation of a single entity, Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand, to lead the day-to-day running of the system for the whole country. The new organisation is also taking over the operational functions of the Ministry of Health, such as managing national contracts.

Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand has listed better use of digital technology as one of five areas it will focus on as part of the transformation of health services.

The organisation plans to use digital technology to provide people with services in their homes and local communities. Technology will also help healthcare workers to better understand and support their patients, Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand said on its website, adding health care providers will have central access to patients’ medical records, which previously was not easily accessible between different DHBs.

The reforms also aim to address, among other issues, the complexity and duplication created by having 20 DHBs replicating functions such as procurement and IT systems.

However, no plans have been announced yet as to how IT systems from the now defunct DHBs and other entities in the sector will be rationalised under the auspices of Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand. What is certain is that consolidating these still disparate systems will result in some major IT projects at the new combined entity.

Great resignation could scupper digital transformation plans: SAP

The so-called great resignation is forcing New Zealand small and medium businesses to put the brakes on their digital transformation plans, according to a new study by SAP that spoke to 101 business owners and decision makers in the country. Coined in 2021, the phrase ‘great resignation’ refers to a worldwide trend of millions of employees across the world leaving their jobs.

The research found 92% of small and medium businesses in New Zealand cited workforce volatility, including the great resignation, as directly impacting their digital transformation plans.

This is even though 79% of businesses surveyed said digital transformation is very important to their survival over the next year.

SAP’s research found 79% of respondents agreed that more employees are resigning now compared to just 12 months ago — the highest rate in Asia Pacific and Japan. In addition, 36% of SMEs said they are not finding it easy to cope with the impact of the great resignation. 

To mitigate the effects and to increase their ability to deliver digital transformation, New Zealand small and medium businesses are investing in their workforce with 29% of survey respondents saying they would provide upskilling opportunities to retain key talent in the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, 33% of respondents are focusing on introducing flexible working arrangements to boost talent retention over the next 12 months.

SAP warned the study reveals how the Great Resignation can be an existential threat to many organisations: “Digital transformation is a fundamental way small and medium businesses not only build resilience, but how they create agile, innovative paths to growth. But without the right people, any transformation will struggle. In order to survive and thrive, New Zealand businesses have to invest in people, invest in culture and invest in innovation.”

Christchurch city centre gets free Wi-Fi

Free wi-fi is now available in the Christchurch city centre as a result of a partnership between Christchurch City Council and fibre broadband provider Enable. The free central city Wi-Fi network aims to provide visitors with access to fast and reliable internet — especially as the city expects to welcome back international tourists soon.

The Christchurch free Wi-Fi service extends from the Bridge of Remembrance and along Oxford Terrace to Victoria Square, across to Colombo Street and back down Colombo Street to the Lichfield Street corner.

The service is powered by Enable’s gigabit fibre broadband. Christchurch City Council assisted with the project delivery by providing its infrastructure, such as streetlights, to install equipment on and utilising its existing internet connectivity.

Datacom pays the price for allowing staff to carry over annual leave

New Zealand IT services giant has reported a dip in profits due to its decision to let employees hold onto their leave entitlements.

While Datacom reported a increase in revenue to $1.45 billion for the past financial year — up from $1.41 billion, net profit after tax was $28 million, down from $35 million in the previous year.

Datacom said the drop in profits reflects its decision to allow employees to hold onto and carry over annual leave. This was in response to the need for Datacom to put the wellbeing of its people first and because New Zealand borders largely remained closed, limiting people’s ability to travel.

Datacom also placed an increased focus on talent development initiatives for both existing and future employees.

“The last year saw Datacom face immense pressure in access to hiring people with technology skills. With so many of our customers embarking on digital transformation initiatives, it served as a timely reminder for our business — and the industry as a whole — of the importance of taking a ‘homegrown’ approach to talent,” Davidson said in a statement.

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