In search of a digital strategy

In search of a digital strategy

Export industries encouraged to embrace the opportunities available from technology.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is working with businesses across the country on how to “unlock the value” from broadband and develop their future prospects using digital content and technology. And the “poster child” for the company that has achieved this is Air New Zealand, says John Ferguson, sector manager - digital content and technology at NZTE.

Ferguson says Air New Zealand’s 'grab a seat' which generates millions of dollars in revenue from online ticket sales, and RFID details sent on mobile phones to facilitate checking in, have changed how customers purchase their airline tickets. “They used technology in broadband and digital tools to get close to the customer to accelerate their revenues.”

Speaking at the annual Telecommunications and ICT Summit held in Auckland, Ferguson elaborated on NZTE’s digital enablement programme that includes a workshop for companies on their future business model.

The programme has worked with pilot companies in manufacturing, finance, food and beverage, recruitment and clothing.

He says one of NZTE’s strategies is to increase international connections and business capability through improving the environment for enterprise and growth. With 37 offices across the globe, he says NZTE’s reach is equivalent to Fonterra.

But the reality is most of New Zealand’s export earnings are generated by a limited number of companies. “Our economic future is in a small number of hands,” he says.

Use of broadband and digital content technology will play a key role in expanding that reach. “We need to export more and encourage business to go into exporting and we need to be savvy about our approach.”

He says NZTE focuses on business and industry that are likely to succeed internationally and contribute to the local economy. Another focus is on what he calls “pipeline businesses”, or those with high potential growth but need infrastructure and skills to develop a a global network. An example of this is the technology firm Right Hemisphere. “We help businesses overcome the disadvantages of size and distance."

Ferguson says companies involved in the workshop this year had redesigned their market strategies based on the sessions. The modules for the workshop include participants assessing their current business model; their customer demographics values and behaviours; channel and distribution partners; a ‘technology scan’; and a discussion of technologies that are relevant to the business now and in the future.

He says these include emerging technology areas and ‘disruptive technology’ like telepresence and cloud computing. The end result is a project plan for the organisation.

Using this module, a company selling food, realised it had significant work to do with its point of sale and CRM systems. A clothing company that went through the programme realised it was a digital supply chain business and "became something entirely different". Another business realised they needed to invest in social media and mobile phone applications to get close to students, its main customers.

The goal, says Ferguson, is to run the programme with 20 to 30 companies a year. After three years, he believes there will be a greater awareness of digital content strategy, with the CEOs actually driving it and creating the strategy themselves.

Conversely, NZTE is working with the Institute of Directors to hold sessions to help the institute’s members to understand the questions they need to be raising with their CEOs and other directors to enable this type of thinking.

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Tags strategyCIO rolenztecustomer focus cio

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