In was nice to be invited back on the premises to do a session to EY customers this afternoon on Technology Trends and Opportunities.
I started my career with Arthur Young (which became EY) and am always grateful for the career foundations provided during my time there. It was good to be able to give something back. There is a very active network of EY alumni so it was also good to catch up with old colleagues.
What I set out to do in the session was to give senior business people a quick snapshot of some of the technology things that are happening at the moment.
As promised a link to the deck is attached for reference, though without my arm waving and ranting it may not make sense to those not present.
Hope to do another session in the new year, Thanks Robert and team for arranging it and getting a good crowd along.
Also, if anyone feels inspired to create a blog, contact the guys at CreateMyWebsite, who will get you up and running quickly and show you what you need to know.3G A-List Awards
I’m a judge in the Telecom sponsored 3G A-List Awards: Honouring Mobility at Work
Entries close on 26 February 2007. So plenty of time to get those entries in.
Here’s the Press Release …
A-List Award Showcases Kiwi Innovators
Press Release by Telecom New Zealand at 1:23 pm, 28 Nov 2006
New Zealand application developers will have the chance to showcase their work on the world stage with the launch of the 3G A-List awards.
The 3G A-List awards have been established to recognise the best examples of New Zealand organisations using CDMA 3G wireless technology to improve efficiency and deliver real business benefit. The winning solution will be entered into the U.S. 3G A-List awards where it will compete against the world’s best mobility solutions.
First placegetter will also be featured on the Lucent stand at a major international wireless conference in the U.S. where the U.S. A-List awards will be announced. The stand will feature video and print case studies to help promote the winning solution to attendees at the event.
The New Zealand 3G A-List awards are being sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, Lucent Technologies and Qualcomm. Paul Treacy, Telecom’s Partner Ecosystem Manager says the awards are an opportunity for New Zealand developers to tap into potential global markets.
“The growth of CDMA 3G technology, particularly in the U.S., means there are fantastic opportunities for kiwi solution providers. New Zealand has a pool of some of the most talented application developers anywhere in the world and the idea behind the A-List awards is to help bring their talent to those global markets.”
Lucent New Zealand General Manager, Jonathan van Smit, said the awards were an investment in the New Zealand software development industry. “It’s a further opportunity for us to assist in building links between New Zealand researchers and developers and the rest of the world. We’re looking forward to helping put some wonderful examples of kiwi innovation on the world stage.”
The 3G A-List awards are open to any New Zealand business, government agency or not-for-profit organisation that has already deployed CDMA 3G solutions that display true business benefit.
The awards will be judged by:
* Rod Drury: 2006 NZX Hi-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year
* Mike Iandolo: Lucent Technologies’ Network Solutions Group
* Rob Hart: Qualcomm
* Prashant Belwalkar: NZTE
* Stephen Crombie: Telecom
The entries will be judged against the following criteria; exemplary innovation and creativity, overall business impact, and quantifiable return on investment.
Entries close in February 2007 and the winners will be announced in mid-March 2007. Interested developers and organisations can find more information and a nomination form at www.3galist.co.nz
Great article in the Herald from Chris Liddell (CFO Microsoft).
New Zealand can take on the world and win, says Microsoft high-flier.
Microsoft’s Kiwi chief financial officer Chris Liddell believes the next wave of companies in the top 10 of the New Zealand stock exchange could be “mini-multinationals” that harness the power of technology to export goods.
Had a couple of great articles forwarded to me over the weekend.
Mark Fowler sent me a Business Week article The Soul of the New Microsoft which profiles current MS star J Allard. It covers off my Vista thoughts nicely.
From the start, Vista has seemed like an anachronism–packaged software in a Web 2.0 era where ever more applications are moving off the PC and onto the Internet, some springing forth in a matter of weeks. Microsoft Chief Executive Steven A. Ballmer vows that this time-consuming process of cranking out code, which created complexity and bogged down development, will never be repeated.
The other article was forwarded to me of the NZ Web 2.0 List which covered life inside of Google isn’t as cool as you would imagine.
A key observation was (if anyone has a link I’ll credit the author Jason @ loveplum - subscribed) …
What’s far more impressive are the quickly increasing crop of small web companies (such as 37 Signals who have a little Chicago office and employees in multiple timezones/countries or Robot Co-Op who have a single room office in Seattle that consists of once large table in the center). The companies have put together < 10 person teams that make products they love and so do their users. All while everyone involved makes a better than good living with a much higher overall quality of life (both at and away from work).
This is our sweet spot. We know how to do small teams well. We have lifestyle. We understand real business problems. Putting that model together with moderate funding is where our software industry should shine.TeamTalk buys City Link
Just announced …
Great news for both Neil’s and David’s team.
Looking forward to seeing where this goes.Unlimited Potential Workshop
Patrick just posted a review of our Unlimited Potential workshop held a week or so ago.
This was a fun event and we’ll look at doing another one in February.Research & Development
We’re making good progress in our ‘next big thing’ which is a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering.
The benefit of having being well funded is that we’ve been able to do a lot of pure Research and Development without having to sprint to revenue. We’re getting a big payback on that.
We’ve been able to take the time to think about what development framework we need to support our product offering. The special characteristics we desire include:
- A way to have near continuous automated regression testing, so that we can release early and often with confidence
- The ability to support different business rules and features for different locations
- Be able to be design lead and separate UI development with core application functionality
- Really good iterative debugging tools
- Lightweight pages - full control of the HTML we send out
- Sophisticated audit trail, logging and playback
- Integration with Visual Studio for productivity
Taking a few months to get the framework nailed (and we didn’t get it right first time) has enabled us to very quickly build the application functionality and make rapid changes as we respond to customer feedback. We’re now ‘dangerously productive’.
Technology-wise we are SQLServer 2005 under .Net (C#), using XSLT as a transformation layer, and Scriptaculous. We looked a lot at Ruby (which I’m using for other things) but are happy with .Net for this project.
We clumsily call this our Unassailability Framework - because by doing this R&D we believe we can add new features faster than anyone else and add new countries cheaper than anyone else. This framework provides us with sustainable competitive advantage.
Without funding, this would have been a significant investment. We may have had to just start writing the application and race to customers and revenue. As we are funded to do this R&D we were able to do things right and are already seeing the productivity benefits of this investment.
I’m not used to having the funding to do things right and have the resources you need up front.
It’s a beautiful thing.Yay, the Police
Over the last few weeks there has been a number of pretty shocking violent events that you wouldn’t normally associate with NZ.
It amazes me that the Police track down the baddies and make arrests so quickly. You’d hate to think those animals could get away what they’ve been doing.
The Police have a tough time. I think the speed they turned over the last few incidents has been outstanding.
Yay the Police.Call my PA
I’ve always found the Personal Assistant phenomena amusing.
What does a PA do? Please let me know. Maybe I need one and I don’t know it.
I write my own emails and documents. If I want a meeting I send an email invite. My calendar is on my BlackBerry.
When I get called by a PA I get pulled into the following communications cycle that kills my time…
- Meeting over. Flip on phone - 4 messages
- Message #2 is a PA wanting to set up a meet with her important person (IP)
- Hands are full can’t take the number, hit 6 to save message, must remember to call back later
- Much later, remember I have a message to process. Delete 11 saved messages, get to PA message
- Call with 3 available meeting slots. Play phone tag for a while.
- Email invite comes through. Respond
So today, when ‘PA’d’ for the 3rd time I asked the PA what she did and why was her IP so important? Does he not know how to send an email invite? Does he read his own email?
Anyway, she invited me to lunch. I had to ask if the IP was coming to lunch or if she was she PA’ing in his place. Unfortunately it is with the IP.
It all came home to roost today, however, when I sent an Investment Memorandum (IM) I received to a well know investor - who responded simply …
“Not for me. My reason is this sentence:
I’ve asked my PA to liase with you …”
Well done Pete. Newsroom turns 10. Good bit of NZ Internet History.
Vodem. Emperor. Clothes
The web site that revolutionised the distribution of news in New Zealand, newsroom.co.nz, marks ten years of existence today.
Former Radio New Zealand journalist Peter Fowler registered www.newsroom.co.nz on 21 November 1996, and began publishing press releases on the Internet soon after.
Among the barriers Fowler had to overcome was few organisations had access to the Internet or e-mail at that time, but it proved to be a catalyst for major newsmakers such as Parliament to adopt the Internet as part of their communications strategies.
Before NewsRoom, press releases were sent to just a handful of mainstream media via fax, who would then make decisions about their newsworthiness. Fowler’s idea caused a revolution in that suddenly the middleman - the mainstream media - had been bypassed.
The public could for the first time see the news agenda unfolding on the Internet at the same time as the major news organisations saw it unravel off the fax machines.
Receiving press releases via e-mail and publishing them immediately gave NewsRoom a speed advantage over the traditional news agencies that used fax machines in the 1990’s and had to type up stories before they could be wired.
Julius Reuter grew Reuters with the knowledge that the first agency to deliver the news accurately and consistently could extract the most value from it, which remains the principle to this day, and is the key behind NewsRoom’s success.
The news agency continues to expand and earlier this year launched the shopping and news site newswire.co.nz which now has about 55,000 unique browsers a month and growing.
NewsRoom turned subscriber-only in 2001 when it became apparent that some businesses would not subscribe when they could get the service for free from the Internet. Contrary to predictions of doom this proved to be a windfall for the company and secured its future.
Subscriptions have grown substantially over ten years and continue to grow, with NewsRoom becoming an influential player in the news industry in New Zealand. It is a trusted first-source of breaking news for mainstream media outlets and decision makers alike.
NewsRoom.co.nz is focussing now on further enhancing its subscriber services, expanding into the United States market, and building a media model for the anticipated convergence of computers, television, and mobile devices through broadband and digital satellite services.
Newsroom.co.nz remains owned by Peter Fowler, and currently sends about one million e-mails a month to subscribers.
Ironically the greatly anticipated Intel Mac version of the software required to use a Vodem on a MacBook was posted today.
Ironically because just this afternoon, Pinty from Telecom dropped off a USB Minimax. Minimax runs on Telecom’s EVDO 3G network.
Over the past week I’ve tried to use a Vodem in customer demos (running on a colleagues Windows PC). It sucked. I’m not sure what’s happening technically but it seems to go to sleep and take a while to wake up. I’ve lost confidence in using a Vodem for technical demo’s. Won’t do it.
In contrast, the MiniMax seems to connect quickly and seems to stay up.
So back to Telecom for Data and Vodafone for Voice. I only went for the Vodem because it looks so damn good. Apple Cool. I just wanted it to work.
The data guys at Telecom are really firing. Roaming works great in Australia and they seem to have their network humming.
The retail stores don’t understand the advantage they have though. Try asking an assistant in a Telecom store what a MiniMax is.I want, I want , I want
US24,500 + shipping.
Thanks Andrew.BlackBox Headphones
One of the guys from Phitek gave me a pair of their new M14 BlackBox branded Noise Cancelling Headphones last week.
These guys are taking on Bose from NZ and doing very well. The sound quality and ability to lock out sound is just amazing.
The makers of Blackbox, Phitek Systems, is an iconic Kiwi technology company that has pioneered active noise rejection (ANRâ„¢) using innovation, ingenuity and creativity to suppress background noise and greatly enhance the delivery of fidelity audio sounds.
I’m looking forward to trying out their new C14 in-ear models which I’ve been told are unbelievable.A night of fashion in Wanganui
My youngest sister-in-law celebrated the successful completion of the 3 year Bachelor of Fashion from UCOL on Friday night with a Fashion Show at the Wanganui Opera House.
Sometimes I worry about education but to see these creative young people put on such a professional show with just stunning outfits was just awesome.
Norsewear sponsored a category that had the 2nd years designing woolen garments. They were fantastic. Norsewear is putting the top 3 designs into production next season. That was very cool. (Though I thought the $250 scholarship cheque was missing a zero.)
Hadn’t been to Wanganui for a while. If you’re passing through Indigo does exceptional coffee and breakfast.Those Don Brash emails
Anyone with a slight understanding of how email works would have to laugh over the the Don Brash email affair. The media makes you feel that to get email you need to sneak into Don’s personal machine.
It’s far more white collar than that. Emails are stored on email servers and therefore can be easily obtained without touching Don’s PC.
More interesting however is that Parliamentary Services shows no sign of wanting to plug the gaps.
This Parliamentary Question was asked the last time leaked emails hit the news …
5728 (2006). Craig Foss to the Minister of State Services (18 May 2006): Which departments have email archiving and/or tracking software programmes and systems; what is the name of the software and when was it installed?
Hon Annette King (Minister of State Services) replied: Hon Parekura Horomia (Acting Minister of State Services) replies: All government departments operate email archiving and tracking systems. These vary across agencies. The State Services Commission does not hold information as to the names of all of the various packages that departments are using to perform this function. To undertake this function for its own operations, the State Services Commission has installed Aftermail, sourced from Quest Software. The decision to purchase was made in December 2004. It was installed and became functional from March 2005.
Well that’s clearly not true. A minority of Government Departments run email archiving software that allows instant searching over data. But good on you SSC for supporting us.
Caught out ….
7063 (2006). Craig Foss to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (16 Jun 2006): How quickly can Parliamentary Service check all emails for a leak, and is there a full text index over all emails and attachments?
Hon Margaret Wilson (Speaker of the House of Representatives) replied: HON MARGARET WILSON (Speaker) replied: The Parliamentary Service cannot easily, or necessarily, check all e-mails for a leak. The time to check emails that can be checked varies, and depends on the existence and ease of recovery of an identifiable log record; and the existence and ease of recovery of a recoverable copy of an email. The time to do this can vary widely. At present there is no full text index of all emails and attachments sent from the Parliamentary Service network.
Every-time there is an email leak, everyone scrambles and then the the fuss dies down. It annoys me how much time is wasted when it can be simply fixed with our world class, made in NZ, solution.Crazy Busy
Light on posts this week but its been fun.
Monday was the Annual NZSA Wellington Dinner. Good crowd. Around 10 companies did pitches and I did a bit of a spiel. Good to see the Auckland people who made it down.
I really suggest that Wellington tech company owners make an effort and get to the Auckland events. Great networking.
Tuesday night Hamish Edwards and I did a workshop to the Unlimited Potential Group at NZTE. We had 20 companies along and it was very stimulating. The event was over subscribed and we’ll do another one in next February. Thanks to Patrick and Michelle for organizing it.
I’m having difficulty spending time with individual companies these days as my workload accelerates so the best way to spend time with me is to come to these events. I’m getting numerous requests daily to look at companies and I just can’t make time right now as we gas up the projects I’m working on.
Last night we had the TIN dinner at Mantells in Auckland. Great crowd. Rob Martyn, now GM of Weta spoke and gave us an insight to the movie industry goings on in my home suburb.
(Forgot to mention that Gareth Davies the Lions captain was there. Very cool guy. He’s working for International Business Wales - who are tasked with attracting inwards investment.)
I’m finding it frustrating traveling without 3G. The Vodem patch for Intel Mac’s is still not available.
Back home late tonight. Lots to catch up on.Introducing PlanHQ
My first Angel investment had its initial media surfacing on Monday.
PlanHQ is run by Tim Norton. It’s a Ruby on Rails development with Koz, Ben and Nat in the initial team.
PlanHQ is the lightweight collaborative business planning tool we’ve always wanted. It surfaced a few weeks early than we wanted but you can sign up now to be considered for the closed beta and you should see it in production by year end.
I’m investing in a number of tools that I’ve always wanted to run the businesses that I’ve been involved with. All are Software as a Service (SaaS) space and examples of Fund, Design, Build etc …
The PlanHQ team are all really bright and motivated. This one is a good example of Web 2.0 thinking applied to solving a significant business problem.
Get on the beta, give us feedback. This one will go global quickly.Why Government Procurement Policy Matters
Had this article published in The Channel this month …
Government and Large Business Procurement policies are a lost opportunity for the software industry.
Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski presented in Wellington a few years ago. His opening words were an apology to all of the vendors in the room. â€œDue to the contraction of the telco space Telstra hadnâ€™t been spending.â€ Ziggy was very aware of the impact Telstra has on the Australasian economy being at the top of the money-go-round. Telstra management understood their spend is revenue for a large number of suppliers.
NZ business and government do not appear to share that awareness. The best money into a company is revenue. Revenue creates a virtuous circle that drivies growth and investment. Deals won provide the references required to make further sales and start to build the credentials required for overseas wins.
Making this spend efficient benefits the entire economy. A government dollar spent can go directly overseas or spend some time here where it can stimulate investment in local companies helping them grow towards earning export dollars.
Around the Ford auto plant in Detroit there are a multitude of small suppliers that exist solely as suppliers to the blue oval. Ford is not the only company that benefits from the sale of one of their cars.
That is why having a procurement policy that stimulates local investment and eliminates unproductive costs is the single best thing Government could do for our industry. And that would cost nothing! The money is already being spent. Right now Government procurement policy is biased towards covering some perceived risks and ironically is far from transparent.
A common complaint of local vendors is the cost of responding to Request For Proposals (RFPâ€™s). In many occasion 5 local firms will each spend 20k of time preparing a bid to win 50k of business. This is negative productivity.
Many times the RFP response required is so large that you need to be the size of a multi-national just to be able to afford to complete the response.
A common complaint from respondents is that RFPâ€™s are often so prescriptive that the Vendor, who is the expert, does not have the ability to add value. All parties lose the opportunity to discover an innovative and perhaps more effective solution.
Many product companies have to keep responding to the same RFP process for each potential customer even though they may have proven themselves to be the best solution numerous times before. There appears to be little RFP reuse across Government Departments resulting continuing wasted cost and cash flow delays in completing yet another RFP.
One of the bizarre evolutions of the current model is an insidious consulting layer that promotes the RFP and has a vested interest in prolonging the process. Out them I say!
In some occasions Government Departments are concerned about Intellectual Property (IP) created during an assignment. Contracts can get hung up on who owns that IP. In most cases the Department has everything to gain by letting a vendor develop the IP into a viable product. If they can obtain further customers than that may lead to a shared investment across the customer base resulting in greater functionality for the original Department. And are they in the business of owning IP?
In many cases the RFP process is manipulated because of other agendaâ€™s. (Shock, Horror.) While discussed frequently in the cafÃ©â€™s around Wellington this behaviour is seldom reported as vendors donâ€™t want to put future business at risk.
As procurement policy is so important in growing the ICT sector it needs to me managed and monitored. A great start would be a Procurement Ombudsman that can provide a confidential and independent path for addressing procurement issues. This person cannot reside inside the Ministry of Economic Development as they are one of the biggest procurers themselves. The Audit Office or State Services would be a more appropriate home.
Their first job would be to establish a Procurement Policy. This seems to have been kicked off several times but nothing useful to industry has ever surfaced. It needs an owner.
Perhaps policy like an approved register can be established. Nothing heavy but once companies or products have crossed a certain threshold then CIOâ€™s could select those vendors without an expensive process, without fear of recrimination. As a control, all deals should be published so that deals can be monitored. There would be some details to work out but once economic development is prioritised ahead of middle management safety then those details should be easy.
The solutions seem quite easy, but the first change required is awareness of how important procurement policy is to accelerating our industry. It is not a â€˜Buy NZ campaignâ€™ (that just does not make sense â€“ what if every country did that) it is about eliminating negative productivity and making it easy for our small and high growth companies to get revenue, invest and grow.Valuation of Telecom Directories
He reckons NZ$897 million.
Also comments on Plus SMS.IceHouse Global 15
The IceHouse is putting together a very exciting program next year. Andy asked me to put this up.
LOOKING FOR NZ’S BUSINESS 1ST 15
Did you know that 150 companies make up 80% of international export
earnings! We need to change that, both getting more people to start
international companies but also the existing ones to get bigger.
So the ICEHOUSE has set up this new initiative called ICE Global 15 -
focused on taking 15 companies that have already validated there is an
international market opportunity and grow the hell out of their
Three parts to the programme. A pre-programme capability assessment, 6
resident retreats over 12 months, and a coach assigned to each company
to work one on one with the companies.
The ICEHOUSE has been able to secure some pretty great speakers and
coaches including Greg Muir from Pumpkin Patch, Peter Lucas ex CEO of
Heinz Watties in Australasia and David Edwards former CEO of Deloitte
If you want to know more about it - contact the ceo of ICEHOUSE, Andy
Hamilton 09 308 6201 or email@example.com or skype:
andrewhmailton. Programme starts in Feb 07.