Great day at the Digital Strategy 2.0 summit yesterday.
I’ve been putting out that the Digital Summit was a key focal point for our industry this year. I think yesterday lived up to that. Some key points for me were.
- David Cunliffe has definitely been listening. Key parts of his plan moving forward included a focus on international - where economic transformation can really take place, and that aligning funding structures to the infrastructure layer may hold the answer. I’ll post about my Funding Separation thoughts later. But yesterdays DC speech was excellent.
- Maurice Williamson, the National party spokesman who I’ve mentioned before as being the invisible man this year, has sprung into life. Maurice was saying why don’t we just do Fibre to the Home (FTTH) on a debt basis and take a bold step. Yeah boy. (I think it’s clear that the National Party members have been told not to speak on specific policy yet so they must be getting things lined up for a big launch next year.) Maurice was in great form and good to spend time with him.
- The people in the industry we spar with are all good people, and their behavior is completely logical. I especially enjoyed spending time with Alan Freeth yesterday who has a great sense of humour. Paul Reynolds is great bloke and had a good first speech to the industry. Good to also see Mark Ratcliffe was around. I worked with Mark at EY many years ago so feel a sense of pride as he moves up the ranks. Tom Chignall’s mo was looking quite acceptable by the end of the month.
- Sam did a great presentation. I think people are pleasantly surprised to see that Sam actually is very bright and doesn’t take himself to seriously.
- Andy’s presentation from Austin Texas was excellent. His points on ICT having to be environmentally friendly were well made. That got me thinking big time.
- The long tail presentation from Chris Anderson was also great. Really ties into our SaaS messaging. Lots of goodies in that session.
- Loved the Gen-Y people. Really impressive.
- The broadband map project looked like a useful initiative. http://www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz/Your-Region/broadbandmap/
- There were 500 people there. The conference laptops put on by HP and Cisco were excellent. Being able to participate and converse during the speeches was very useful, though the moderator didn’t seem to appreciate my sense of humor.
- I really like the people in our industry and it was good to catch up with many many smart people in person.
More to come later but just wanted to get this up.On management
One of the new things we’ve started doing at Xero is having a biz lunch where our staff can catch up every couple of week and just talk about general business and tech stuff so we can all learn for each other. It’s a lot of fun.
A great question I got was something like: how do you get people to do what you want them too. I thought that was great question on management techniques. The normal text book stuff would use language such as empowerment, trust, goal alignment etc etc.
The reality is that an entrepreneur uses a much broader set of techniques.
To illustrate I’ll use the example of my daily interactions with our CTO Craig. I have worked with Craig for many years and he has played a key role in evolving my management techniques.
A common scenario I’ll use to illustrate is how I try to get features into the latest release of software that is almost through testing.
Here are some examples of real management techniques.
- Cajoling: This latest release is looking really good. You’ve done a great job. Why don’t we add this little extra feature since your going so well.
- Wearing down: Can you pleeeeeeeeease get this in. Pleeeeeeeease. (5 mins later) Can you pleeeeeeeeease get this in. Pleeeeeeeease. (Repeat as necessary)
- Shame: I can’t believe you’d let this version go without this vital feature I’ve just thought about
- Humiliation: Any other CTO would have easily been able to get this feature in a few short minutes - blind folded.
- Divide and conquer: Michelle (Product Manager) said that if you can get it in it’s cool from her point of view.
- Passive aggression: Fine, if you don’t think you can get it, that’s OK with me. I’ll call the customer now and tell them we can’t do it.
- False pride: I’ve got a great new idea but I think it might be a bit hard to program.
- Reverse psychology: A customer came up with a great new feature idea but I’ve told them they have to wait until it’s prioritized.
- Misdirection: That feature your working on, feedback from Customers is that is now less important than this new thing they really want.
- Bait and switch: Can you just change this HTML. Oh, now you’ve changed that it’s obvious we just need to add this new feature.
- Unwilling accomplice: Thanks for making that HTML change. You know that we bypassed change control. I’ll tell them unless you add this feature.
- Guilt: It’s my fault but I had to promise a customer this new feature. Completely understand if we can’t do it but any chance to just getting it in. That would really help my out.
- Bribery: Want to use the car for the long weekend?
- Gluttony: If you can get this feature in quickly I can order the pizza for lunch. (Note: this can be spectacularly effective).
Unfortunately Craig has become immune to most of these techniques so any ideas you can suggest please let me know.It’s all on again, sigh
It seemed for the past few months that peace had broken out in our local telecommunications industry.
That ended today with Telecom’s announcement of it’s Cabinetisation plans.
Martin Wylie sums up the issues well: Rivals slate Telecom plan for exchanges
And from Ernie: Telecom Wholesale Has a Case to Answer
It appears that:
- Telecom delayed the LLU and then shifts the battle lines
- They have exposed their lack of commitment to open up Exchanges
- The first Cabinets are where the small number of open Exchanges are, revealing how aggressively they spot compete
- The Cabinets themselves are designed to not easily allow other providers in them.
- This strategy was hidden during the unbundling process
- The LLU process may have been manipulated while Telecom has invested in this new strategy.
This looks duplicitous from Telecom and may ultimately backfire.
- This move destroys any goodwill that was in the industry and from Government - central and local. (Local is important as they will need resource consents.)
- That 1.4b number put out last month will be drilled into in detail (they got a free ride on that) and the talk is it looks much more like 200m in net new spend. Honeymoon over Paul Reynolds.
- It looks like Telecom played Communications Minister David Cunliffe like a violin. How will he react? Will this push him over the edge?
Dangerous game for Telecom. Will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next week.Should you iPhone?
I’m noticing an increasing number of iPhone users around NZ at the moment.Â Not just geeks, but people traveling who have picked them up and got friends of friends to get them working.
I get asked all the time whether someone should pick up an iPhone while in the USA or UK.
My recommendation is no. Unless you have a furry geek at your beck and call that can keep your iPhone working as Apple keeps upgrading the software.
The iPhone is very early in it’s life so it will upgrade frequently.Â Also you would have to expect a 3G iPhone out next year which can leverage the fairly good (though stupidly priced) mobile data networks here.
My suggestion is get your iPhone fix now with an iPod touch.Â It has the pocket wow factor and is really useful.Â And you can give it to the kids when your iPhone arrives next year.
Vodafone must know exactly what the iPhone usage is on their network and I’m sure they’ll be monitoring that closely. Voda do know what the (big) kids are into and with Telecoms GSM based network due next year they would not let Telecom launch into that market with an iPhone. So we’d have to expect Voda to do iPhone’s next year.Â But I bet Telecom has biz dev folks trying to get the NZ rights as we speak.
I’m still a BlackBerry fan. For enterprise email the keyboard is essential for me.Next toy
Reports rumours of an ultralight NAND based MacBook for January.
With the new Samsung 64 GB NAND flash drives getting there it seems like the time has come for a fundamental shift in mobile computing.Â No moving parts = smaller, faster, longer battery life.Â It is a big step forward.
The Engadget guys couldn’t wait and loaded the drive into a MacBook Pro and demonstrated a 20 second boot.
I hope they do the big video card in the ultralight model.Â Imagine that, a tiny notebook you can plug into a 30″ screen.
Maybe the next generation screens will have hard drives in them, so when you dock you back up. I guess they all have USB now so that’s where you plug your big drive in.
The Mac OS is still missing a feature like Offline Folders in Windows, which is the most seamless way to backup I’ve seen.
MacOffice 08 is looking promising. Office 2008 Sneak Peak: EntourageÂ
I’ve had a play and think Office 08 is a huuuge improvement. The new Entourage seems great. Phew.
But it’s not all going Apples way. Noticed on Andy, this video of how to do PR wrong …
Google have a massive initiative in place for the Australian elections.
This is fascinating as they are aggregating a bunch of content and have interesting ‘worm-like’ graphs of political searches. Will be interesting to see how these map to the final votes.
How easy would it be for them to add a ‘vote now’ button!
We’ve been waiting for years for the electoral authorities to start leveraging technology but perhaps it will be lead from the outside in, rather than inside out.
This is a big step forward into our lives from Google though. Very, very interesting.Ponoko makes the New York Times
Congrats Dave5 and Derek.Best night ever
Well this week anyway. When you’re road tripping, every so often you get a night out of the box.
The Chambers event tonight was 20 minutes out of Timaru. People who run the regional chambers of commerce have to be connectors and have personality. What a great bunch of people. Funny, smart and interesting.
After a couple of humorous speeches the place was rocking with the Funky Hot Mamas. Those girls rock and had every one dancing until the buses left at midnight.
You know it was good when someone comes up and says. “Loved your speech today. Brilliant.” (errrr, I’m on tomorrow - and now can only disappoint.)
So far Timaru has been a blast. Next year’s event is in Rotorua. Book me in.Picking a market
Greetings from Timaru. Been a busy travel week so far. Sydney Monday, Wellington Tuesday morning, Hamilton Tuesday afternoon, Dunedin Tuesday night for a breakfast session this morning and NZTE Beaachheads meeting.Â Now in Timaru for the National Chambers of Commerce Conference.
I haven’t done many beachheads meeting this year as I have to focus on my day job but I was really excited to see a number of great companies from Otago today.Â All had fantastic, passionate and credible founders.
A couple of themes came through.Â The companies had lots of options and were jumping around their markets based on opportunities - chasing cashflow. The beachheads presentations are probably one of the few times they get a chance to present and have external people look hard at their business.
It was obvious, to them as well, that they needed to pick one of those market opportunities and put their heads down and go for it.
Another theme was getting ready for capital.Â Most companies should be looking at putting in place at least a year of funding so they have the time get their business to the next level.
I was excited to see some great unpolished diamonds.Â With aÂ bit of coaching they have the capability to create significant businesses.Refreshingly non-PC
In Sydney for the day I immediately saw 3 examples of how much more aggressive things are in Australia. Business is much more direct.
- Coming up to the election the TV adverts pull no punches. I look to the carpet when they come on such are our New Zealand sensitivities.
- The scheme proposed for Boy Racers. Strike 1 your car is impounded for 3 months. Strike 2 your car is put forward for crash testing and put on YouTube. Brilliant.
- Front of the business section in ‘The Australian’, they bag rivals AFR for not covering the proposed Rio Tinto merger in detail. “Unrivalled coverage of Australia’s Mega-Merger”
I still remember Al Munro at CeBit a couple of years ago saying. There is no New Zealand word like ‘un-australian’. It’s a different speed over here.Tech is sexy
Flicked my BlackBerry on in Sydney this morning to a inbox full of emails from friends with various x rated suggestions of how we can put more sex into technology.
I thought that was a bit odd until I checked Stuff much later to see what this morning’s tech stories were and found myself quoted in this …
Phew, that saves some explaining at home.
Seriously though, Tech is sexy.
- We have sexy gadgets to play with.
- Work is social and you meet lots of interesting people.
- You can travel with your career. This week is 5 cities in 4 days.
- It can pay well.
- You can have work life balance (in theory - haven’t got there myself yet).
- You can work from anywhere.
- There is a chance of getting stupidly rich, with not a lot of capital, in a very short time.
- You communicate with people all over the world every day.
- There’s lots of change. You can never get bored.
- The old timers will remember Comdex.
A career in technology opens the doors for all sorts of opportunities. In the last couple of years I been to countless countries, had dinner in a German castle, flown in a Gulfstream, drunk ridiculously expensive wine and met brilliant people.
The person I’m sitting next to in the Sydney AirNZ lounge right now has just reeled off trips toÂ Rome, Cannes, Shanghai, Tokyo, New York, Singapore, SanFran, London and Bangkok in the last couple of years as well. Another has been to Fankfurt, Dublin, London, Hong Kong, Chicago, Montreal, Seattle and Las Vegas since 2003 - all on tech.
Tech is sexy baby.Is there an Award for Winning Awards?
Almost embarrassed to say but we won another Award last night. The TUANZ (Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand) SaaS Award sponsored by Fronde
We entered most of the awards months ago. We enter awards for two reasons.
- It’s good PR for an early stage company
- We think it’s important to support the industry and industry events
While grateful to win a few awards I think it’s obvious that there are too many awards in the New Zealand industry right now. And that the industry is actually quite thin. That’s not a good thing.
So we’ve hung up our Tuxedos for a while - at least in NZ anyway.
So now it’s time for us to give some Trophies for our Trophies.
Best Bling Award - goes to the Microsoft Partner Trophy - A solid chunk of gold colored metal. Very heavy.
Weighty matters Award - goes to the TUANZ Innovation obelisks. They look good in pairs. They were actually hard to get through security and on the plane they were so heavy.
Consistency Award - goes to the Hi-Tech Award trophies that have been the same for the last 5 years. (Someone in the 2002 committee must have got a discount on 5000 trophy blanks.)
Best Award we haven’t won yet Award - goes to the Hi-Tech Awards Flying Kiwi Trophy. That is a great looking bird.
Most fru fru Award - goes to the Wellington Indoor Sports Queens Wharf Lunch-time Netball Autumn 2007 Division 8 Minor Finals Runners Up Trophy (yes we really did win that).
NZX Tech and the Markets slides
On Saturday the NZX hosted an excellent day for tech businesses, focussed specifically on valuation.
The presentations and slides from Ken Bender of the Software Equity Group were very valuable and just showed us how big the tech world is right now.
You can get the slides here: NZX Technology and the Markets Forum - Presentations
There was a great discussion on SaaS and Enterprise SaaS. The hot market is definitely SMB SaaS but I still there is an excellent opportunity for local tech companies in the Enterprise SaaS space where (as Ken says) the delivery technology and security profile of the data suits the application. ActionThis are a good local example of that.
Zeacom presentation is compulsory for NZ tech exporters.
For those in the audience who felt a bit depressed from the talk prior to mine, here is a ray of light: Surveylab closes in on military.
Kudos to NZX for bringing someone like Ken down to NZ.On FreeView
Staying with my Dad up in the Hawkes Bay a couple of weekends ago I got to see FreeView. The new TVNZ Digital TV service. The kids channel was great and it was funny to see Gloss again.
The set top box interface was woeful. Clearly designed by a satellite guy it showed all sorts of numbers that probably isnâ€™t that useful to most Grandmaâ€™s. The hardware was cheap and nasty. The remote would certainly not take pride of place on the coffee table.
I hadnâ€™t really been following it but there is a debate about whether FreeView should be broadcast on Sky but it seems to be raging.
If you already have a Sky Decoder or even a digital receiver in your TV you have all the hardware required to get the FreeView channels. But TVNZ will not let Sky users get FReeView on the box they have already invested in.
This is really dumb and infuriating.
- I am a taxpayer and am paying for the content. To get FreeView TVNZ are saying I have to buy a new decoder that I donâ€™t need or want, let alone the complexity of another (badly designed) remote and interface. This is infuriating.
- This â€˜walled gardenâ€™ approach just like everything else we have fought about over the last 10 years. What a massive step backwards, after such a great step forward with TVNZ OnDemand.
- The value is in the content and the eyeballs watching it, not the unnecessary, expensive and crappy device.
This is a really dumb thing TVNZ are doing. The backlash will be significant.PWC Hi-Tech Awards 07
Another good night at Hi-Tech Awards last night. Thanks PWC for your ongoing support. Great to catch up with so many friends and colleagues.
Endace were the worthy winners of the premier award. What they have been achieving around the world over the last year is fantastic. New Zealand hero’s. Endace listed on the AIM a couple of years ago so are a few years ahead of us but give us some great experiences to follow.
Great to see Caroline from Fronde recognized for their mobile banking security product. She has been working in that space for many years and it’s now really paying off.
The Energy Mad guys were great. We’ll watch them with interest.
Our team at Xero had a good night. Craig won the Young Achiever and Kate picked up the PR and Marketing gong for the work in our IPO. I’ve been working with Craig for many years and he is one of the hardest working and tech smart guys around. He can get in front of customers too so will be a tech player in the years to come. I’m really proud of Kate winning the PR prize as well. She has a big part in balancing getting enough buzz to get the IPO across the line without over hyping us which was a real risk. We set that award as a goal after last years ceremony so I was rapt we achieved that.
I was stoked to jointly win the Entrepreneur award again this year. It’s a really useful thing to have when you’re selling overseas so I was keen to have it again. Darrin Grafton from Serko was the other joint winner. Those guys are a lot further along than us and earning lots of export revenue so I’m glad that he was recognized. The whole point of the awards is to encourage others so that was a good result.
Last years awards in Auckland were bigger. They normally are. But looking around the room I felt a bit disappointed by the lack of depth in the industry. While there are parts booming the IT sector doesn’t feel as vibrant as it did a few years ago. There are some notable exceptions but really there are few companies doing it. The global tech space is so exciting right now and I think we’re missing the opportunity.
There were whole sectors of the community not there last night. I saw some great stories and innovation at the Open Source awards a few weeks ago and many of those people weren’t there. Perhaps we need an OSS section next year.
It may also be there are just too many awards right now. There is talk of a bit more consolidation which I’ll be pushing for.
For early stage companies like ours awards are a big part of our early marketing strategy. They are great for brand awareness and validation for customers, partners and investors. So we should see more companies doing the small investment to get organized and entered.
But for our industry it is vital that we celebrate success and tell our stories so that we get more investment and have a bigger voice in setting policies like the treatment of R&D expenditure. I assume it’s Christchurch’s turn next year. All Tech companies should be thinking now about next years awards. Set yourself a goal now like we did last year. Which one do you really want to win?MacBook update
Boo, ended up just being a minor update.Â Was hoping for a FlashDisk, no moving parts model.
Oh well, no point changing, will keep with Black Beauty for another few months.iPhone in NZ - now
Not sure on the legalities of this but …http://www.nziphone.co.nzÂ With GMail now doing iMap, the iPhone is looking great for individuals and small businesses without an Enterprise email system.ÂAdobe and Leopard
Some of our team are reporting problems with creating Acrobat documents on Leopard. Documents created with non standard fonts do not show up nicely when sent to other people.
Up to 3 months to fix!
That’s a big screw up from Adobe.Invisible man
Lance also noticed the lack of voice from National on communications issues this year.
My conspiracy theory radar is beeping wildly. As commented …
The invisible man is definitely seen as yesterdays man by the industry.
JK is a smart guy and itâ€™s puzzling that National has been so quiet through the whole debate this year. The only scenario that makes sense is that there was a deal that left MW intact in the last leadership change.
Nuts really when there are new guys like Craig Foss who actually get the internet, blog and have RSS feeds!
Where is MWâ€™s web presence?
Under my ideal scenario, DC flips to National (he’d look better there anyway) and keeps going for another 3 years.