ITx 2016 shines a light on our IT sector

Day one of the ITx 2016 conference was an intense experience. Introduced by IITP’s Paul Matthews as 12 conferences in one this year there was enough content downloaded into my brain to make it feel like I’d actually attended 12 conferences! Alongside the plenary sessions a number of concurrent seminar streams meant there was something for everyone, from eduTech, healthTech, service management, Future of Tech, cyber security, theories of system thinking and decision making , IT culture, IT’s evolution to focus on people and empowerment, connecting isolated communities, Blockchain, Open Source, DevOps, ShadowIT, Simian Armies and more. And that’s just day one!

The conference opened with an address from Minister of Everything Steven Joyce, who sung the Government’s praises about the work they’re doing to promote innovation and support the digital economy. To be fair, he also said it was up to entrepreneurs to develop the things we need to create a vibrant, successful tech sector in NZ. Conference delegates gave him some stick about the Government’s recent announcement on digital education, with IITP president and industry legend Ian Taylor calling it too little and too slow, with the programme not due to start until 2018. Given the speed of innovation in technology, in 2 years the likelihood of a digital curriculum developed today being obsolete is substantial. It is certainly not a bold commitment to a building a digital economy or enabling our future generations to thrive in a connected world.

Ian Taylor spoke about the potential for a kid from a small isolated community to build a successful business built on IT. His company, Animation Research Limited, develops computer graphics and animation, with the Americas Cup, US Open and cricket ball tracking as flagship projects. ARL simultaneously runs projects around the world from its Dunedin base of operations, showing how a tech company can be based anywhere and, with good old fashioned Kiwi ingenuity, be successful in a global market. Whilst some have said the the Number 8 Fencing Wire mentality is no longer relevant in today’s modern economy, Ian posits that it’s more important than ever. Kiwi firms have always succeeded by identifying niche problems and solving them in a smart way, and tech is no different.

Ian McCrae from Orion Healthcare introduced us to the concept of Precision Medicine, which is emerging from as the new way to personalise medicine for vastly improved outcomes. His vision is that New Zealand can lead the world in aggregating personal health data. Big data comes with privacy and accuracy issues but the opportunity to revolutionise medicine makes healthTech one of New Zealand’s biggest economic opportunities and Orion is leading the way.

The day ended with a keynote speech from Vinh Giang, a successful Australian entrepreneur who combined magic with psychology to develop an online magic training business. His was a powerful, personal and entertaining story based on the three lessons that led to his success: Perspective, Influence and Beliefs. He illuminated each through a series of magic tricks and techniques that bought each lesson to life in the most impactful and entertaining way.

Day two promises more of the same.

TaurangaTech’s attendance at the conference, including travel costs and accommodation, were sponsored by Priority One.