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Doors open for channel as NZTech pushes national tech strategy

NZTech’s new boss is hoping to drive a national technology strategy, and throwing the doors open for the reseller channel to be part of the change.

NZTech’s new boss will be calling on distributors across New Zealand as the industry body seeks to broaden its representation and drive a national technology strategy.

The national body, which represents ‘companies selling a technology product, service or solution’  is pushing on a ‘top down’ focus, with plans to encourage the government to implement a New Zealand technology strategy which, among other things, could influence procurement strategy across government.

Chief executive Graeme Muller, who took over from Candace Kinser in December, says while in the past the organisation has had more of a ‘bottom up’ view with a focus on projects such as trade visits, that’s changing.

Muller says New Zealand is ‘woefully behind’ other countries when it comes to technology and missing ‘a lot’ of opportunities. He says while individual technology companies are going well, as a nation ‘we still lack a lot of awareness around technology’.

“If you look at education, health, the way our government departments interact, we are way behind in terms of the benefits that can be obtained through use of technology, and that is, and will have, significant economic impact if not addressed,” he says.

Technology, he says has the largest multiplier effect of all industry at 4.9 around jobs – meaning for every new technology job created you get 4.9 new jobs in other sectors.

“I haven’t got into the economic GDP multiplier, but it’s probably in the same area.”

“It is a good time to be raising the flag on technology and the economic and social impact we can have.”

Muller says improving the government’s view of technology will result in ‘a very significant impact’ on the overall economic environment. “But there’s a lot to be done.”

Key is ‘actively engaging government in discussion around a clear vision and strategies around how technology should play over the next few years for the New Zealand economy’.

“If we can have the government take a stance and develop some strategies, we can start looking at what is the strategy technology will play in education, the strategy for health.

“If we get this top down view right, and be a bit aspirational then when you engage with education side they’ll start making policy decisions, creating curricula, training teachers and all these things to assist this national strategy.”

Muller says the reseller channel is an important part of the ecosystem and he will be reaching out to distributors including Ingram Micro, Westcon and Express Data about the challenges facing the sector and the role NZTech can play.

Distributors have previously been NZTech members.

“My role is not to say we want to grow by getting all the channel guys involved.

“But if the channel guys can see an advantage to having someone represent them or be an advocate for them to get their voice in these policy discussions or be involved in the national technology strategy discussions, or are they having troubles with tax issues, or IRD or immigration or employment?

“Whatever it is, if they’ve got a common challenge, that’s where we can have our government engagement people working on those sort of things,” Muller says.

“If there was a role for us to play in supporting the channel, then that’s our role.”

“If the channel doesn’t have an industry association and feels it could benefit from one, I would love to talk with them about if and how we could help.”

Muller says in many cases, the channel already gets advantage from the work NZTech does, ‘as do a lot of companies’. However, those companies, he says, may get even more advantage by being a member and helping drive the change.

As part of the push forward, NZTech is also hiring a new staff member to handle member and government engagement, Muller adds.