AFQY Vision Week NZ Part 2: Diversity in Tech, Digital Culture, Operationalising Ideas & Tech Enablement


Part 2 of the key outtakes from our AFQY Special Edition Vision Week event includes insights from Kaye Maree Dunn, Hilary Walton, Chandan Ohri & Anthony McMahon.

Written by Gemma McKenzie, AFQY Editor

Watch the full video replay here.

This special edition AFQY event included a range of lightning talks from speakers covering four key areas - environment, society, culture, economy - to give attendees some inspiration for thinking about what we want the vision for NZ to be, with a focus on how tech could play a part in the great reset.

"Tech was our third largest exporter and therefore we could be getting a 10X return by setting up a whole range of things that enable it." - Ryan the Lion

Kaye Maree Dunn - Co-Founder, Āhau

Data protection mechanisms, diversity in tech, digital inclusion

Kaye Maree Dunn spoke about the diversity required in the people who build tech, and the potential of technology not only for Māori and indigenous people but actually the potential for this new economy as well as we're starting to reset into a new future.

"If we don't have equal footing, equal access and have enough talent in this space that can actually build technology that responds to the needs of our communities, we're always going to be reliant on other people to have a heart for us."

The crown provides resources but in exchange for resources they want your information. What are the mechanisms that we put in place around families, especially a vulnerable whānau that might not have the ability to speak out...? Kaye Maree says these are the really important considerations that she bumps into in this space.

Āhau is a decentralised system that enables individuals to upload their own genealogy. It's quite a critical capability from the covid-19 space. "We didn't know what the enemy was and we thought that we could be at risk of losing our whānau , so at that same time you're also concerned about your own genealogy, your whānau stories."

As more whānau upload their information into their own decentralised databases it will lead to opportunities in digital identities and Kaye Maree's hope is that it will also lead to the potential of digital banking.

Watch Kaye Maree's full talk here.

Hilary Walton - CISO, Kordia Group

Digital Culture & Tech for everyone

Hilary's vision for NZ is to build a digital culture so we can build a digital nation. 

"We need a digital culture throughout New Zealand where people jam the door open for people in the digital divide and drag them through, as many as possible, and don't just leave the door closed."

"It blew my mind how some people would just jump on board and start adopting technology and other people you just couldn't get them to pick it up. It's almost that they refused to move."

Adaptability quotient is this metric of adaptability and they use it to measure performance in the workplace and assess individual potential. AQ is often referred to as something called growth mindset.

Tech is one of the fastest growing industries, year on year there are more tech jobs - is there an opportunity here for some of those people who might be losing their roles due to covid-19 to reeducate themselves in tech? 

Tech isn't just about coding - there's so many different jobs in tech e.g. sales, IT, business analyst, management.

"We have to get them over the hoop of thinking that tech is just for techy people, that if you don't have an IT background that you're on the outside and it's going to be really hard to break in, and it may not work - because it's simply not true."

How can we combine training people in tech, the growth mindset, and a kind of 'human security firewall' kind of status to really push things along?

Hilary says we need to pass on digital culture like a really positive virus and not just wash our hands of it. "We need to take every useful thing, every great idea, we need to pass it on and just because you think someone's not 'techy' doesn't mean you shouldn't try and teach them."

Watch Hilary's full talk here.

Chandan Ohri - Managing Director, Duco Consultancy 

Operationalising ideas to benefit the organisation, the community, and add to the prosperity of New Zealand

How do we operationalise Tech ideas? How do we make sure the organisation benefits, the community benefits, and it adds to the prosperity of New Zealand? Chandan shared the high level principles used at Duco Consultancy to operationalise identifying improvement ideas.

  • Encourage an open innovation model, an inflow and outflow of knowledge to accelerate innovation internally while also expanding the markets for external use of innovation

  • Encourage investment in outcomes not products

  • Provide ownership of the initiative or the idea

  • Create a sense of enablement

  • Celebrate and encourage fellow colleagues: Ensure you measure and celebrate the smaller wins (KPIs or milestones etc)

  • Engagement as part of change management to ensure the team is behind it and in the work, and it's not just about the C-Suite.

  • Prioritise experimentation and monitor this through the lens of KPIs or milestones.

  • Continuous improvement - encourage feedback and maintain the entrepreneurial spirit.

Watch Chandan's full talk here.

Anthony McMahon - The IT Psychiatrist

Removing jargon from tech, the constant flux of change in Tech, and tech enablement in business

Technology and jargon

"One of the biggest challenges the technology industry has is we're full of jargon." 

Anthony shared an anecdote about a technology consultant who went to a rural community to talk to the community about AI. For those people without any farming background, if you talk about AI in a rural community, they're going to assume you're talking about artificial insemination.

"The thing we've got to remember in the tech industry particularly is that our audience may have a different understanding of the terminology that we're talking about so we need to get that right."

Comparing the technology we have now to the channels of communication in 1918

"If you think back to 1918, the channels that people were informed through were the radio and the newspaper, if they didn't get those they may not have ever got updated on what was going on... Everyone on the 25 March [2020] got an alert between 6 and 7 o'clock on their cell phone letting them know what was happening."

Technology is in a constant flux of change

There's always a next big thing and the company that's actually going to be the most successful is the one that's going to adapt the best.

Anthony says there are two veins in technology:

  • The consumer - the people that we're selling to

  • The creator - the people building new tools, new toys, new things

"If our market aren't there, if the consumer's not there, the products we build aren't going to be successful."

Technology enablement in business

"Start with the problem that you want to solve. Start by identifying why."

If you know what problem you are solving you can do two things:

  • You can identify the skills you have and whether they're relevant for what you need, or

  • You can identify the skills that you do need and you can bring the two together and start to bring your people on the journey.

Your business model is just as important as your technology

Netflix was part of the reason that Blockbuster failed but one of the bigger reasons was that Blockbuster couldn't see past their business model. "You need to address your business model just as much as what your technology is doing."

"You have to be prepared to spend now... you have to spend to get from point A to point B, you have to dip below a line."

"Don't focus on technology being the outcome, it's the tool that will enable the outcome to happen but it's never going to be the outcome if you focus on it as your outcome."

Watch Anthony's full talk here.