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The digital and tech-enabled future of New Zealand

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way work is being done in the world today. While there were changes and adjustments being done before COVID-19, the pandemic has not only accelerated these strategies but has also force entirely new models of remote working.

While, at one point, it was believed that there was more than enough technology to go around, this may not be the case. The New Zealand Productivity Commission said, ‘The main problem facing New Zealand today isn’t too much technology, it’s not enough.’

In fact, the issues may not be with available technology per se. Rather it is most likely the impact of not enough technology uptake by people, businesses and the public sector, says NZTech CEO, Graeme Muller. This is what he will be exploring when speaking about the technology shaping New Zealand at the MobileTechAg conference in Rotorua.

Agriculture is just one of the areas that New Zeland is deploying technology, Agritech or Agtech provides alternatives to traditional farming methods and is revolutionising the sector.  MobileTECH Ag brings together technology leaders, innovative developers, early adopters and the next generation of primary industry operators from throughout New Zealand and Australia. The annual event showcases the digital technologies transforming the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

New Zeland launched its Digital Tech Industry Transformation Plan for Ministerial very early on in 2019. The new approach to industry policy was aimed at growing more innovative industries in New Zealand and lifting the productivity of key sectors. While the country has a strong economic foundation but its productivity has continued to fall behind its main competitors.

To take advantage of the opportunities of the technological revolution the government has announced Industry Transformation Plans will be developed for key sectors. Industry Transformation Plans will be sector-led and government-supported. They will involve a partnership between government, business, workers and Māori.

Each will be unique to its industry but will build on any existing work to describe an agreed vision for the future state of the sector and outline the actions required to realise this vision, including investment, innovation and skills development. This progress update on the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan shows some very positive developments.

In 2018, the digital technologies sector contributed almost $6.5 billion to GDP. Between April 2019 and May 2020, IT services exports exceeded $4 billion, with key markets in the United States of America (USA), Australia and Europe.

In 2019, there were over 13,000 firms in the sector. Over 75% of these firms had no employees, illustrating a significant proportion of self-employed workers in the sector.

There were 76,065 workers in digital technology occupations across the economy in 2018. Many of these were roles in other sectors, highlighting the importance of digitally skilled workers across the economy. Average wages in the sector are significantly higher than the New Zealand average. In 2019, they were $119,442 compared to a New Zealand average of $59,703.

There is a slew of innovations and solutions on the table right now for the nation. Graeme will see cutting edge technology at the launch of Spark’s new Innovation Studio, where businesses can co-create solutions alongside Spark technology engineers and specialists. The studio will be able to test the tech on all networks (4G, 5G, LoRaWAN, Cat M1, NB IoT) in one place. The Studio showcases how smart technology, including the Internet of Things (IoT), can support the country’s COVID-19 recovery and long term economic success as well as accelerating our transformation to a low carbon economy.

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