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Movers and shakers: Ken Renz, Diana Phone and Michael Whitehead

Movers and shakers: Ken Renz, Diana Phone and Michael Whitehead

Plus insights from tech entrepreneurs Cam and Nate Whitaker and New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker

Ken Renz is taking on the new CIO position at Environment Canterbury, following a year and a half in the role as manager for Digital Auckland at the Auckland Council.

The latter is a cross-council programme responsible for leading the Digital Auckland strategic initiatives (digital transformation/disruptive technologies) across the Council (Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, ATEED, Panuku, and Watercare).

Before this, Renz was technology manager, infrastructure division and City Rail Link at Auckland Transport.

Renz says his work at Digital Auckland was around digital transformation and innovation, “For a lot of CIOs, that is a valuable experience because it is really where the industry is tracking.”

It is the third CIO role for Renz, who was also chief operating officer and CIO at Paclink Australia, and CIO, Asia Pacific and World Wines Group at Allied Domecq.

Photo by Divina Paredes
Photo by Divina Paredes

Diana Phone strongly believes people that provide healthcare should be working with each other.

“No silos, so there is one care plan that everyone is contributing to so the patient care is right every time,” says Phone, who is a pharmacist who divides her time between Waimauku Village Pharmacy and as clinical lead at Ko Awatea which is part of Counties Manukau Health.

Her work in this space has brought her the Professional Service of the Year award, the Innovations award and the overall Supreme award at the 2017 NZ Pharmacy Awards.

Phone says some of the challenges she and other pharmacists are working on is how to enable pharmacists to communicate with GPs and nurses more effectively.

“I know that with a growing health burden and the demand on health care we have to change the way we practice and to be able to do that and to be more efficient we have to change some of the processes of our model of healthcare,” says Phone.

“Key to achieving this is to embrace technology to enable communication and integration,” she says at a forum organised by Whanau Tahi.

The digitisation of healthcare records and the technology to connect the dots between siloed providers is critical to transforming, and improving, today’s healthcare system

Diane Phone, Counties Manukau Health

“Unfortunately, while costs and staffing levels have risen, New Zealand’s healthcare sector has experienced a drop in productivity. Smart IT systems is a key enabler for productivity, efficiency and quality in any sector, it would appear that healthcare IT could make a better contribution towards lifting sector performance. The digitisation of healthcare records and the technology to connect the dots between siloed providers is critical to transforming, and improving, today’s healthcare system.”

She cites the work done by the Waimauku Village Pharmacy which adapted the Whanau Tahi Shared Care programme.

“This IT ability has facilitated our workflow,” she says. “We are saving an extra two to five hours per patient collecting and writing up the same background information, it has allowed continuity of care, increased productivity and prevented repetition of work,” she states.

“As a result of these change ideas (i.e. collaborating with the GP team, staff buy-in and engagement, redesigning our model of care to focus on medicines management services and adapting Whanau Tahi Shared Care IT programme) we have increased the number of patients receiving targeted medicines management service from 70 patients to 190 patients.

“There has been direct cost saving for the patients as well as the GP and Pharmacy business through timely interventions and less follow-up,” she states. “But most of all, we value spending time getting to know our patients, really understanding their needs and helping them to create more meaningful outcomes.”

Cam and Nate Whitaker
Cam and Nate Whitaker

 The website RealEstatePros, set up by two brothers, Cam and Nate Whitaker, who are also behind moving company comparison site, MovingPros, aims to help vendors and buyers connect with trusted agents in their area.

 They explain that with over 14,600 individual real estate license holders in New Zealand, according to The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA), vendors struggle with the task of choosing someone they can trust to look after them as well as their property.

RealEstatePros is committed to connecting sellers to the agent that is the best fit for their needs, which can be determined by quickly comparing profiles of relevant agents and reading verified homeowner reviews.

 “Our platform is guided by the philosophy of creating more transparency in the real estate industry and placing more power into the hands of buyers and sellers by allowing them to rate and review agents on the platform. The aim is to help vendors make better-informed decisions when choosing the right agent for them, based on recent reviews from actual clients,” says co-founder Nate Whitaker.

We treat every new idea as an experiment and if it isn't viable or sustainable we pivot or are happy to move on

Nate Whitaker

Nate Whitaker shares key advice for Kiwi startups:

Get to market as quickly as possible,” he states.

“Everyone has great ideas that could improve our lives but too many never get off the ground because they spend too much time in the development stage trying to perfect them before launch.

“Getting to market quickly allows you to test your business model, get feedback from your target market and make the necessary changes to reach the goal of having a sustainable business model much faster. It's all about being open minded, flexible and being guided by feedback while staying true to your vision. This is why I am such a big fan of the lean startup methodology,” he tells CIO New Zealand.

He says he and his brother have launched five online marketplaces over the past 12 months.

“Three are profitable and one was a huge flop!”

“But we never would have been able to achieve that if we were only focused on wanting to launch something we thought was perfect,” he adds.

“We treat every new idea as an experiment and if it isn't viable or sustainable we pivot or are happy to move on. It's easier to do this when you haven't spent years in development and are open to feedback.”

Everyday, we see how people are using data smarter.

Michael Whitehead,WhereScape

Michael Whitehead of WhereScape Software has been named as one of the 14 recipients of the Prime Minister’s business scholarships.

The scholarships were established in 2010 to help improve the international competitiveness of New Zealand companies by developing the management and leadership skills executives. Since 2010, 73 executives have received scholarships from a wide range of sectors, including IT, engineering, and manufacturing.

Whitehead will use the scholarship money to attend an executive course at a business school in the United States next year.

Whitehead had attended an Entrepreneurship Development Programme at Massachusetts Institute of Technology eight years. The insights he got there were applied to his expansion of Wherescape, he tells CIO New Zealand.

 “Everyday, we see how people are using data smarter.”

Early this year, Wherescape, the data analytics company he founded, has split its operations, into a software business based in Portland, Oregon, and Now Consulting.

Gerrit Bahlman is appointed chair of the Board of Directors at Asia Pacific Advanced Network. Before this, he was director of information technology at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for over eight years. He was the CIO at Massey University before moving to Hong Kong.

New Zealand farmers and companies are starting to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, data analytics and automation to decrease impact on New Zealand rivers, according to New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker.

Irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 percent of water use between 2013 and 2014, the Ministry for the Environment, says Naicker.

Places like Israel and California have had to learn how to manage their farms and use of water really well as they don’t have much of it available, he adds.

New Zealand can quickly learn from other nations and use sensors to monitor water quality, water levels, nutrient flows and other metrics

Kriv Naicker, New Zealand IoT Alliance

“In New Zealand, we have plenty of water so we haven’t paid as much attention to the impact of farming until recently. There is now a push to make all New Zealand’s waters and rivers swimmable again.

“New Zealand can quickly learn from other nations and use sensors to monitor water quality, water levels, nutrient flows and other metrics; analytics to quickly understand what is happening where on the farm; and automation and robotics to adjust delivery of nutrients and water to reduce impact on waterways.”

Using soil moisture sensors, analytics and water automation systems, Californian avocado growers have been able to reduce water usage by 75 per cent.

A water sensor that will allow people to check the health of waterways has recently been tested on the Manawatu River near Palmerston North. The sensor will allow communities to check the health and safety of their local waterways.

Naicker says the advantages of the ability to remotely track, IoT monitor and then report on the condition of a herd of cows or flock of sheep or quality of water introduces huge efficiencies for the modern farmer.

“They can be alerted to various scenarios in advance and save both time and money by not having to patrol and survey, using satellite technology to receive various information in a proactive fashion.”

“Some good examples of companies providing sensors for the quality of lakes and rivers includes Riverwatch Water Tester in the Wairarapa,Waterforce in Canterbury and KotahiNet in Wellington.”

Hamish Rumbold
Hamish Rumbold

ClearPoint marks its 10th anniversary with an announcement of its new CEO. Hamish Rumbold, current group general manager of digital customer products and retailing for Air New Zealand, will assume the role in November. He will take over from current CEO Phil Pietersen, who will remain as CEO of AlphaCert Labs and ClearPoint Board member.

Graeme Muller - CEO, NZTech
Graeme Muller - CEO, NZTech

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller has recently returned from the Global Tech Leaders Dialogue in Melbourne, where participants have noted the rise of cyberattacks alongside super-fast connectivity.

“Our discussions focused on the increasing need for all countries to share information better around cyber issues as global supply chains connecting large corporates and small to medium enterprises across borders provide many potential vulnerabilities that expose us all.”

He points out recent research from the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organization (ASOCIO), highlights that cybersecurity remains a significant risk as nations in the region become more digital.

The report, due for release next week, recommends the establishment of a regional CERT to connect national cybersecurity response teams for faster information sharing.

Muller says the cybersecurity of New Zealand and its trading partners is particularly important as digital trade grows and ultimately sees something similar to a security version of the World Health Organisation develop as the sense of shared responsibility grows and nations work to decrease cybercrime.

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Tags DXGraeme MullerCDOdigital transformationKen RenzCIO roleEnvironment CanterburyInnovationCounties Manukau Health

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