Our Blog

where we write about the things we love



Highlights from the 2016 Canterbury Tech Summit

I’m not certain of the correct term for a large group of Intergenites – let’s go with gaggle. A gaggle of Intergenites went across to the fantastic 14th edition of the Canterbury Tech Summit at the impressive Christchurch Air Force Museum of New Zealand – an event which had a waiting list of over two hundred people, in addition to the over five hundred attendees.

2016 Canterbury Tech Summit

Things kicked off with the opening address from none other than our very own Prime Minister John Key (who as an aside fondly shook our gaggle’s hands, remembering us from presenting at the recent Wellington Gold Awards, where Intergen took home both the Cyber Gold and Supreme Award titles!).

Key insights from him were some recent stats regarding the tech sector in Canterbury, which provides 2.4 billion GDP and creates roles for over 15,000 people. He mentioned the increased spending in research and science – a $410 million increase this year from the previous budget - his plans to ensure our government becomes 100% online, making all services virtual. To support all of this he reminded us of the government’s support for the second undersea cable link to the United States, due for completion in 2018.  

He shared a story from his pre “boss of the country” days when two colleagues were asked to see how they could destroy his employer, Merrill Lynch, during a time of industry disruption (the third industrial revolution – more on that later). The idea being they would be ahead of the competition in a time when online banking was taking off.

Andrew Patterson from the NBR then kicked off proceedings as our MC of the day and he also lead the panel discussion about “Are we prepared for the 4th industrial revolution?”

There was a lot of passionate agreement and disagreement about this revolution - or Industry 4.0 as it’s otherwise known – innovation combining biological, digital and physical technology. Will we see a world in our lifetime where we no longer need accountants, lawyers or doctors as their jobs are completely automated? Some startling estimates show around 47% of current jobs could no longer be required in the next 20 years.

For me another highlight was hearing from Sir Ray Avery – an author and founder of Medicine Mondiale. From his childhood in an orphanage and living on the streets of England to being knighted in New Zealand. I loved his observation that “Impossible is the first starting point for New Zealanders” and that we Kiwis have no respect for the status quo. He shared a fascinating story encouraging the innovators and entrepreneurs in the audience to not design things that are cool but that are really truly customer focussed and solving an actual problem than a perceived one.

The most common or emerging themes of the day were all about the mega trend of technology disruption. Disruption is not at all new to our industry but when you combine this disruption with truly open data sharing across multiple industries and then factor in the vast power of the Internet of Things, the future looks very different. What will we do here in New Zealand and indeed Canterbury if there is a way to chemically reproduce milk in an automated lab without needing cows? We can already have planes fly without the need for pilots – would you get on that plane? What happens when robots can 3D print new eyes or prosthetic limbs? We already have smart factory and office technologies but what happens when technology can make production line decisions without needing a human?

A troubling theme which has stayed with me since the summit is how can we revolutionise our education system to ensure we are teaching children to think differently, innovate more and to make “entrepreneurship the norm”. We know children can use their tablets at home and at school already but can we teach them to build tools to do new things? Even more importantly how can we retrain and inspire a generation of teachers to also know how to teach coding and development practices? The Prime Minister was certainly aware of the challenge so I hope to hear more on this soon.

If we are to take advantage of the 4th industrial revolution, let’s consider how New Zealand is brilliantly positioned to be at the helm of this change – we are small and agile enough but we also have our “number 8 wire” ability to craft incredible things from an idea at the pub. This change is coming if we like it or not so I look forwards to working with our gaggle to turn it to New Zealand’s advantage.

Posted by: Kate Phillips, Practice Manager, Digital, Data & AI (Intergen Central & US) | 26 September 2016

Tags: Conferences

Blog archive

Stay up to date with all insights from the Intergen blog