ITx 2016 Day Two: lessons from Christchurch (and other places)

Day two of ITx 2016 at Wellington’s TSB Bank Arena was another hive of activity, with some thought provoking keynote presentations and multiple seminar streams covering a range of different topics.

The day began with Rachael Cotton-Bronte highlighting the rapid switch towards marketing-led IT investment. Historically IT projects were about automating internal business processes, however, the majority of IT projects are now about improving and enhancing customer experience. This precipitates a mindset change that there are no longer IT projects, only business projects with an IT contribution/basis.

Agile featured prominently on day two, with one session discussing the challenges of contracting within this framework, where certainty is desirable, indeed essential, in contractual agreements. However, the agile approach to project development by its very nature lacks clearly defined parameters. Experts from Buddle Findlay.

Helen Shorthouse from the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) spoke passionately about the tech community’s response to the Christchurch earthquakes and the way it has accelerated tech development in the region. From EPIC’s physical place to collaboration across multiple companies and groups, the region’s tech sector came together, resulting in a boost to tech economic growth as well as more opportunities for young people to enter the sector. CDC’s overall plan is aimed at growing New Zealand’s “tech pie” overall and there are lessons for Tauranga in both the process and outcomes.

A team from Northtec assisted with an MBIE led project at Pehiaweri Marae to improve digital skills across the community. This involved the first Marae-based code club and digital skills workshops for kuia and kaumatua. The programme embraced Tikanga Maori and utilised volunteers and surplus hardware to “digitise” the marae. The overarching vision of the project is to inspire and connect curious minds and foster digital skills in the community to increase digital literacy.

We heard how the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has embraced big data to enable external users such as schools to analyse data from their region to help students make the right decisions when it comes to future study. It is also helping TEC target tertiary funding to the right courses in the right areas based on data. The system is highly visual, making identifying insights and opportunities much easier. One tangible output is allowing tertiary institutions to include with course outlines information on the likelihood of getting a job and average starting salaries flowing from the qualification.

Cyber security, Internet of Things (IoT), marketing based on proximity, thinking of IT as business tech, digital governance within small business, listening carefully and working constructively across teams, DevOps and design led testing all featured on the lineup for the afternoon sessions.

The final plenary session highlighted New Zealand’s place in the Asia-Pacific region on the Cloud Computing Index. Overall we placed very well, typically in the top 3-4 countries, predominantly behind Hong Kong and Singapore. We scored well in areas such as sustainability and security, with work to do on domestic internet speeds.

The day finished with the Excellence in IT Awards, MC’d by funnyman Raybon Kan. The awards recognised excellence across a number areas, including young IT professional, IT professional of the year, best project and more. The large crowd of almost 600 were vocal in their support for a very fast changing sector. On to day three!

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