New Zealand’s workforce and business climate are productive and diverse. Despite its size and relative isolation, the business-focused government nurtures several economic gifts: it’s top in the world for ease of doing business, and has the third freest economy.
Its multicultural universities and humming urban centres foster highly educated workforce and research capabilities. Like many countries worldwide, the challenge of adapting technology is the next big hurdle for transforming business. We explore how creative and innovative technology is surfacing in the South Pacific island nation.
Innovation, Technology and Creativity in New Zealand Business – Three intersecting concepts
How do you define the point of intersection between innovation, technology and creativity?
Where these three concepts meet each other is where we see transformation of convention, and opportunities for progress. Technology offers practical means to solve problems and inefficiencies for people and businesses. These advances are pushed beyond conventional boundaries by creative thinking.
New Zealand is considered unique in its approach to change in these areas. Sarah Peterson, listed in the 2016 Forbes ’30 Under 30’ list in Consumer Technology, identifies strong cultural connection, government investment, receptiveness to improvisation and loose hierarchical structures as just some elements empowering innovation in New Zealand.
Connecting digital inclusion with innovative thinking
The New Zealand government’s Digital Inclusion Blueprint aims to deliver to New Zealanders the tools they need “to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the digital world.”
Improved digital literacy is something the country is striving for, suggesting that New Zealand does not yet consider itself a frontrunner in terms of digital innovation. Indeed, various ICT, electronics and telecommunications roles are listed on the country’s long-term skill shortages list.
This is not to say that New Zealanders aren’t innovative thinkers; their world-renowned reputation for ‘number 8 wire’ ingenuity hints at a national propensity for finding creative solutions. The country is however acutely aware that in order to progress and commercialize innovative ideas, it needs to attract investment and foreign entrepreneurs to boost its technological innovation capabilities. Innovative concepts must be drawn out of meeting individuals’ needs and considered for their market viability on a regional, national or international scale.
Automation revolutionizes sectors
Automation is pervasive; it assists businesses in every industry to find more efficient ways of completing tasks through machines, reduce human error and increase productivity.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is on the horizon for New Zealand business. It’s an intriguing next step for an already highly productive country. As RPA moves through industries on the technological innovation wave, the challenge for executives and decision-makers is to identify where robotics can fit into their operations. Taking advantage of the support RPA can bring to a business requires an ‘automation-first’ mindset, according to Managing Director of UiPath, Andrew Phillips.
“RPA can uncover new opportunities for businesses to gain a competitive advantage but also reach their goals more efficiently. It’s therefore important that ANZ businesses are prepared for this shift in how we combine humans and robots at work.”
Robotics Plus is a New Zealand robotics and automation company that hones in on opportunities for tech in New Zealand’s booming agriculture industry. Using imaging software and AI, Robotics Plus invented a robotic arm that identifies and picks kiwifruit from trees. In 2018, the company signed an agreement with Global Pac Technologies for the global distribution of its similarly-designed apple packers.
Demand for robotics plus is growing, supporting the expansion of companies like Robotics Plus beyond traditional trading partners such as Australia and the US. Accelerated growth is an assured benefit of moving into the technological automation industry.
Value-add technology is another technological wave moving through local business. Consumers have come to expect fast and effective customer service, by way of simplified checkouts and other easy online transacting.
New Zealand businesses – in areas such as retail and finance – are moving to apply technology to enhance customer experience. Undoubtedly, great quality customer service aids sustained business growth.
It’s no surprise then that Air New Zealand, voted New Zealand’s most respected brand for 5 consecutive years, has a strong digital focus underpinning their user interface. Marie Hosking, Air New Zealand’s Head of Communications, explains that key to the airline’s user experience is “maintaining an unwavering focus on customer experience, [and] continuing to invest in products and services.”
Among Air New Zealand’s clutch of digitally enhanced services are:
- A wristband for children who are traveling alone, that allows guardians to monitor their child’s journey
- A mobile app for checking in, upgrading services, electronic boarding passes and even ordering coffee for customers using the airline’s airport lounges
- A hands-free interactive app named ‘Alexa’ that can check airpoints balances, flight times and delays
- An artificial intelligence chatbot.
Air New Zealand demonstrates the potential for and rewards of implementing value-add technology to business to boost user experience.
How does artificial intelligence (AI) fit into New Zealand’s business environment? The good news for investors is that AI is moving slowly through the local commercial landscape, giving experts marked opportunities to move into the market.
New Zealand’s technological ecosystem is looking for AI support. Thus, a newly founded AI Forum (2017) aims to bring together innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs and end users to bring AI to the forefront of the country’s tech developments. A recent survey revealed 85% of New Zealand organisations view AI as a positive enabler to their work.
According to the same survey, AI in New Zealand is mostly being explored via the use of chatbots. There is therefore a lot of uncovered ground in machine learning services that foreign investors can introduce into New Zealand.
Supporting creativity and design
New Zealand has an abundance of creative thinkers who reveal themselves in thriving entertainment (film, television and music), media, fashion and arts businesses.
The country’s screen industry – making its arguably most famous mark on the world with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy – is another significant revenue generator for the economy. Weta Workshop, Oktober Animation, South Pacific Television and NHNZ are all national (and some even international) trailblazers in screen productions and techniques.
Game development and digital content creation are also strengths in the nation’s repertoire. New Zealand’s Media Design School and Victoria University offer programmes in computer graphics, design, game development, and film and animation. New Zealand’s highly coveted game developers generate commercial video games. Around 99% of these products are then exported to Europe and the US.
Watch these spaces
New Zealand offers exciting opportunities for business in the race for technological advancement and one-upping of traditional commercial practice.
Clearly, tech advances in agriculture are highly appreciated in a nation buoyant on exports of its food products. Though surging ahead in some areas, such as agritech and creative design, New Zealand certainly opens the floor for innovators in technology such as artificial intelligence to move into the market.
Contact us to get started
New Zealand’s open business environment and a diverse range of industries are attractive to foreign investors. At Biz Latin Hub, we can help you navigate the market entry process for doing business in New Zealand.
Our team of local and expatriate professionals offers tailored support for firms expanding into New Zealand. This includes company incorporation, due diligence, accounting, and recruitment services.
To find out more, contact the team today via email on [email protected].