Digital Future Now

Auckland, New Zealand, 13th of August, 2008


9:00 Openning by Mike Hearn, Executive Director, AMCHAM. Reading a pre-prepared welcome message. About 80 people participating. Chair of the session, Rod Oram, Business Columnist. Short address after the official opening. Infrastructure and tools needed to run real-time business from New Zealand. Infrastructure, broadband access, especially in rular areas, example of F&P with their international business. Bottom line: infrastructure is important.


Darryn Melrose, CEO, AIM Proximity, first speaker,  “5 top tips for businesses to survive and prosper in a digital age”

1. Digital skepticism. The IT hump is still an obstacle for New Zealand businesses. 81% of top ten traffic leaves NZ and goes offshore: bebo, ebay, y!, google, msn, etc. Absence of geography changes the way business is conducted. Value chain is reversed – customers are more in charge now.  Example of, a new advertising business. 

2. Start interacting. Traditional was are on decrease in terms of revenue stream.

3. Build outcomes, not empirel- speed and flexibility is the key. Focus on partners and core compotencies. Use traditional marketing combined with IT techniques. 

4. Put customers in center. Web sites must be engaging, personalised, focused on dialogue. Use the feedback to learn and measure customers needs and satisfaction.

5. Define success milestones: online services, products and services, learning from customers interactions, developing new competencies, benchmark your performance against regional/global best practices.  Actively measure the rate of customers coming back. Understand the behaviour of the customers. 


David Cunliffe, minister of Communication and Information Technology

Starting about the history of innovation, etc. same as last year. Talking about reforms, unboundling, etc. Govt sponsored networks should be open and used by multiple providers and offer multiple services to customers. Free software business models: customisations, training, documentation and expertise to be monetise on.  Ian Taylor points out in the question section that shift of the government from infrastructure to content is harmful. Answer by the minister: putting online content that the state owns is important – national library, national film archives, etc are good to foster new business opportunities, etc. 


Panel discussion

David Skilling: infrastructure is important, it is not done deal as Cunfliffe presents it, there is lots of work still to be done, Stressing the importance of continuing work on infrastructure.

David Chapman: points out the important aspect, which is the education sector. ICT training and education is not organised well throughout the secondary programmes. One issue is with senior managers not being up-to-speed with the technology. Another is the process of fostering and bringing new managers which are well trained. 

Rob O’Neill, Computerworld: follows on the notion that education is a problem. Points out that students/graduates and people in general are not interested in understanding of how technology works, they are interested in using it only. 

Bernard Hickey, Managing Editor,   The role of government is to provide a free network infrastructure, and the rest will follow. Goverment should get more ambitious, and throw more ambitious targets to be achieved for the infrastructure, capacity, connectivity and speed. Request for the govt to provide 1.6BNZ$ for network developments, same as the govt did for the railways system. 

Ernie Newman, Telecom Users Assoc of NZ. Meta-learning skills, the ability to not only pull information (which is there, available), but to pull relevant information, assemble useful conclusions and leverage it to a useful level. 

Long discussions about educating young and educating old. How to make the information and creativity transfer between the age borders. Strong opposition from Bernard against institutional learning – stressing the capabilities of self-learning. Talking about online business and Internet in general. 

Comment by Ian Taylor: early adopters are not early anymore – they are just adopters – all of it has been around for years – secondary education future trust (running for 4 years). Giving example of independent content creation: New Zealand content created by New Zealanders. 

Cunliffe looking for advertising revenues. Unfortunately, I fear this is the position most decision makers might be taking on the issue. Talking about the advertising revenues and potential market share. WHY? All the talking about advertising revenues made me really question the integrity and usefulness of the entire conference. Luckily, there were good examples of value created through creative activities and not all the hope is lost. 


John Roberts, Veda Advantage, ID fraud – protecting identiy in the digital age.

Puling out some of the statistics for their current service: 60k queries per day, 1.2s response time. Prognosis of 988 exabytes (988 million GB) of data stored digitally by the end of century. Sophos Facebook ID probe results: 41% give personal information.  Wagner Resource Group, aMcLean, Va-based investment. Verification of identities: driver’s licence, property ownership, phone numbers/address combo from telcos.


Breon Gravatt,  Senior Associate, Boldwins, Intellectual property.

Patents – software patents – exist unrestricted in NZ. The only restriction is that the software must be “commercially viable”. This demonstrates the decision makers lack of understanding of what software is all about. Discussion about meta-tags and keywords for competitors can (or cannot) be used for sponsored links or your meta-tags. Reverse-engineering is legal. However, if the information is available reverse engineering is not accepted. 


Richard MacManus, CEO,

Started blogging in 2003 as hobby. Now employs >10 people (contractors) 1 full-time content developer. Expanded the services into a podcast show, and Silicon Welly.


Carey Williams, Managing Director, Calcium

Talk about how e-mail can be turned into powerful business tool, by embedding HTML and making e-mail look like webpage. Is that for real? Looks like these guys missed their ship about 15 years ago. 


TVNZ talk about online content and embracing digital media to augment the traditional ways of broadcasting.


Hans Frauenlob, past – JADE, BeachHeads, Sector Director ICT NZTE

Speed to market is critical, but poor quality will hurt you. (!)  Working with partners is essential. Get the balance right between your product and your business – sadly, the best technology doesn’t always win. “As a nation we rarely overpromise, we bring to the table what we promise”. Knowing the customer: who is it, what would make them want to deal with ou, will they pay you, how and when will they pay you?


Mario Wynands, CEO, Sidhe Interactive

Managing director and founder, employs 80 ppl in New Zealand. Established in 1997, 3rd largest independent developer in Australasia, Work on PSP, PS2 PS3 xbox, nintendo wii, pc, 11 games developed outright across 22 SKUs (different versions) 11 languages, further games worked on as outsourcing partner. From video game developer studio- shifting to – Entertainment Company.


Ian Taylor, Executive Producer, Animation Research

Giving brief history of the company. 1989, company started in Dunedin. 1992 – 3D animation for any sport, Valencia, starting. GPS, GPRS,  RF, etc, etc. PC, IPTV, and mobile coverage. America’s cup sold it for $12M to Alcatel.  2000 – World’s first real time interactive internet coverage of a sporting event. 2004-2007 America’s Cup. 1996 world’s first real time digital golf course. Motosport, 2000,2001,2004.  Cricket, started active developments in 1999. Working under cover till 2007. The first company, Hawkeye (British company), manages to track the ball.  Animation Research in 2007 catches up with the technology, and wins the India contract. July 2008- Certified by MCC for world’s first Umpire Review Trial. Fine tuning technology — Hawkeye strikes back (…). Important lessons: Understand the business and your partners, and the business rules. 

Ian Taylor about the future of high-tech education:

“Look of what all those young people did when they decided that music industry is not giving them what they want? They went and dismantled it. What did those people do to the film industry? They went  and dismentled it. Think, of what all the young people will go and do to the institutional education, when they decide it is not giving them what they want?  They will go and dismantle it.”

“It is all about users: delivering content how users want it, accurately and in timely fashion, where they want it, and when they want it.”


Steve Griffin, EDS

Lots of nice diagrams, and 3 videos in the presentations (submarine one with the light house, office partners/rugby player, EDS with building the plane, in mid-air, while flying). Corporate space about transforming businesses. 


Paul Reynold, Managing Director, McGovern Online

Social networking is an ecology of tools places and practices.  About tools, about practices, about experience.  Social networking is a conversation. Social networks are places to exchange ideas opinions and data. Think: node, not hub.  Check Web Trend Map 2007/V2 (looks like subway).


Simon Young – iJump

Social media consultancy. Not a technology company – people company. The “last mile” is to get business people and people in general to understand and use the technology.  Social networking is the new golf (as a form of socialising). It allows business contacts and partnerships to form. But, it is pointless to talk about ROI. Aggregator of content. Hitachi in Japan, enabler, shifter from corporate website to Wiki-like website. “Generation C” – generation that have been given choice. Giving examples of the power of internet expression: 2005 “Dell Hell”. Do not preach. Learn from experiences. Listen to customers. Host a party. 


Nicholas O’Flaherty — Bullet PR

Blogging as a business tool. RSS is the key. Giving examples and links to BloglinesLance Wiggs blog, GeekZone. Suggestions: share company news, generate word-of-mouth buzz, thought leadership, branding online visibility reputation management, two-way communication channel. 


Ben Northrop, CEO, Run the Red

3G mobile Marketing Opportunities, examples:,,, CR codes for mobile phones. mobile search, SMS links. 


Darnell Dixon, Director of Sales, Snakk Media

Mobile advertising company. Huge business growth in short time. Major customers: NZ army, Air New Zealand, Vodafone. 1$ a day of Vodafone launch.  Ecosystem: advertisers -> ad networks -> content providern -> mobile services – > agencies, ad servers. Predicted 50% growth of mobile internet usage in the next 12 months.


Brian Hawker, CEO, HooHaa

Mobile marketing in 3G World. Subscriber-based system, that pays 10c for each received ad on your mobile. Ie. rewards subscribers to receive advertisements. Using Rich Media System – the ability to provide video and other rich media adds. Pushing advertising to the subscribers may seem like a good idea, but honestly, do who really needs that? Do our teenage kids really need that extra brainwashing being pushed on them?  


Mauricio Freitas, Founder, GeekZone

Blogging platform, #1 Nielsen/netratings July 2007, aggregated traffic 1.4M pages views per month. 25% increase in July. Majority of traffic comes from USA. Collaborating with businesses to test or deploy testing runs or to advertise for help etc. 


Hayden Sinclair, CEO, Jimungo

Interesting character – Social Networks – relationship between “like-minded” people, objects, ideas, etc. Love of objects, by putting details about your objects of love. Two mock up websites: one about Fender guitars, one about M&M as a periodic table. 


Russell Brown, Founder, Public Address (started in 2002), 5k visits daily, 60k page impressions weekly, 25k unique visitors monthly. 55% male, 45% female. 36% Auckland, 29% Wellington, 6% Chch, highly educated highly paid readers’ base. “Seek experience not opinions”. 


Final summary

Ernie: Openness of how the speakers approach different topics. Games are legitimate industry and proper use of technology. Diversity of the content. Not is all in the educational systems. Upload speeds must increase.

Rod: power of software ecosystems. Giving example of Obo – producer and retailer of hockey goalkeeping equipment – founded by 2 goalkeepers, 100k goalkeepers worldwide, in Athens olympics over 85% of goalkeepers used the Obo equipment! Good example of focused business model and global outreach. 

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