Movers and shakers: Andrew Siddles, Vijay Patel and Josh Comrie

Movers and shakers: Andrew Siddles, Vijay Patel and Josh Comrie

A roundup of the latest business technology executive appointments and events in New Zealand and Australia.

Andrew Siddles, corporate IT manager at Napier City Council, has established the consultancy 'CIO to Go'. The consultancy aims to provide "an affordable way to inject expert CIO leadership or coaching into businesses who don't have the need or the resources for a full-time CIO”, he states. “CIO to Go provides an ongoing advisory service to bridge the gap between business and technology.”

Vijay Patel is now communications technology manager at Matrix Security Group. Before this, he was operations management specialist for Shivam Enterprises and national IT manager at PwC.

Recruitment consultancy Potentia has won two prestigious awards: The AUT Excellence in Business Support Awards and the Global Recruiter (Asia Pacific) Industry Awards - Best Specialist Recruitment Business.

This is the first time a New Zealand recruitment business has won either award, says Josh Comrie, Potentia managing director.

"Starting the business 10 years ago, I wanted to build something that every employee could be proud of. Being recognised internationally as being best of breed, and then separately for business excellence, exceeds even my expectations,” says Comrie. Potentia received the Global Recruiter (Asia Pacific) Industry Award in Singapore.

He says the AUT Excellence in Business Support Awards recognise and celebrate organisations and individuals who deliver quality products and services to help small, medium and large businesses to maximise their potential.

“The standard of entries in the Awards this year was excellent,” says AUT University Dean of Business and Law, Professor Geoff Perry. “It is heartening to see the wider business sector taking a strong interest in these Awards, which highlight the important role of business support in our economy.”

How to be a Kiwi ‘tech star’

The latest Market Measures survey finds having a ‘lone wolf mindset’ when selling is impacting the growth of many Kiwi technology companies.

“They rely on a talented sales person or sales team to do everything from finding prospects through to securing a sale, which restricts their ability to efficiently grow a company of scale,” says Owen Scott, managing director of Concentrate.

The alternative, he says, is a more efficient, ‘pack’ approach – where a range of indirect tactics are used to find, nurture and qualify sales leads for the sales team to convert to customers.

“At an average annual turnover growth rate of 38 per cent, our tech firms continue to do well, but we remain a nation with a few large tech stars like Orion Health or Tait Communications, and thousands of very clever, but small exporters," says Scott.

The latest Market Measures survey, conducted by marketing advisory firms Concentrate and Swaytech, drew data from over 300 New Zealand based technology companies on their approach to marketing and selling their products.

Scott notes 30 per cent of firms in the survey were over 10 years old, but over 70 per cent of them record annual turnover under $5 million.

The survey points out how Kiwi tech exporters are behind their US counterparts in some key areas of marketing and sales, particularly on using ‘cloud’ or internet-based technology.

“Benchmarks we have sourced from the world’s most successful technology industry, the US, show indirect tactics (e.g. direct marketing, advertising, email marketing, social media) deliver 80 per cent of their sales leads, compared to 23 per cent for the average Kiwi technology company in this study," says Scott.

“It is a stunning contrast and at the root of why we have such a long tail of very small companies, and not enough hitting that magical $100 million annual revenue figure.”

Bob Pinchin, director of Swaytech says the study finds much of this indirect activity can be driven remotely over the internet. “In almost any business, part of the buying process is conducted online, giving our tech companies the opportunity to reach them cost effectively,” says Pinchin.

The survey highlights three areas technology companies can focus on:

Value digital marketing more: Have a broader realisation that much of the buying process in virtually any market is occurring online (50 per cent thought this situation hadn’t changed in the last 12 months, contrary to industry data).

Reduce the marketing ‘fluff’: Produce the right kind of tools to generate and nurture sales leads. Generate useful content, not marketing 'brochureware' (less than 30 per cent produce ‘thought leadership’ type content, as opposed to 75 per cent of US firms).

Get more social: US technology firms are embracing social media aggressively and applying it differently. Local firms are a long way off the pace (98 per cent of US tech companies use social media, compared to 68 per cent of local firms).

The Market Measures study has been operating since 2009. Deloitte and AJ Park are the principal sponsors of this year's survey, which was also supported by the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Callaghan Innovation, the New Zealand Hi-Tech Trust, the New Zealand Technology Industry Association, Priority One (Tauranga), Taranaki Technology, New Zealand Health IT, the Canterbury Software Cluster, Grow Wellington and the New Zealand Software Association.

Darrin Grafton, co- founder and CEO of NZX-listed Serko, has joined the advisory board of cloud communications provider Conversant. Grafton has 25 years' experience in the travel technology industry and co-founded Serko in 1994. Serko provides online travel booking and expense management services for businesses worldwide.

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