New Zealand’s digital leaders share their Priorities
Over the months of February and March of 2021, we interviewed 27 senior leaders in a number of Corporations and Government Departments on the topics of issues and priorities in both their businesses and across the digital sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The global COVID-19 pandemic created a series of unexpected and unprecedented events for businesses throughout 2020. From the initial COVID-19 safety guidelines through to the border restrictions and nation-wide lockdown, businesses had to think on their feet and act quickly to make 10-year plans happen, in some cases, within days.
During the first New Zealand nation-wide lockdown entire businesses were moved online, staff were equipped and enabled to work from home, doctors consulted patients via teleconferencing software. While for some businesses this was as simple as lift and shift, other CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs had to work out how to shift entire call centres and workforces from desktops and legacy systems to a remote working environment.
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella mused that “We’ve seen two years of digital transformation in two months.”
The challenge for businesses and leaders now is to continue the momentum of this digital transformation and change that has taken place. TUANZ has stated the aim of getting NZ into the top 10 digital ready countries based on the network readiness index released by the Portulans Institute but we aren’t there yet. In the most recent report, New Zealand has moved up on the network readiness index and currently rank higher than the income group average but despite “two years of digital transformation in two months” we are still only ranked 16th.
Our leaders priorities.
From our interviews we found that in 2021 these are the priorities that our leaders were focused on:
Future of work – Covid-19 has forced organisations into a new way of working. Now we need digital technologies to help enable organisations to combine the benefits of working together in-person with the benefits of working from home. This requires a cultural shift too, working alongside other functions to ensure productivity doesn’t drop.
Supporting digitalisation – Many organisations have prioritised addressing the technical debt of intergenerational platforms or legacy systems and unplanned cloud migrations. Migrating to the cloud, updating basic IT infrastructure, and controlling the costs around these activities is a key priority this year.
Cyber security – Enabling a secure hybrid workplace is a key priority and responding to an increased level of security threats that emerged in 2020. Digital leaders are looking at how they can increase their cyber security defences with technology.
Demand for digital skills – A lack of international talent and the local skills shortage is a concern for many leaders. With the increase of digitalisation of services and organisations migrating to the cloud, the demand is through the roof.
Getting the most from our data – Data collection, data analytics, data organisation and utilisation, automating the delivery of data – Getting the most out of their data, efficiently, is a big priority for leaders in 2021.
Access and inclusion for everyone – Covid-19 further highlighted the digital divide in New Zealand. With the increase in WFH to online learning, the demand for high-speed connectivity and data is higher than ever, and the inequality must be addressed.
While these areas are important, it is clear that there is still a lot of basic foundation work required before leaders can begin looking toward the future and considering adopting emerging technologies. New Zealand businesses must prioritise getting their ‘house in order’ quickly for us to have a shot at becoming a leader in emerging technologies.