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CEO Summit 2016: The Uberfication threat to all NZ Businesses

Who is going to perform ‘Uberfication’ in your industry? How did DJ Fatboy Slim help make a small New Zealand company a global brand? What do you sell that people around the world want to buy? 

These were just some of the questions posed at the NZ CEO Summit 2016 at the Langham Hotel, held on the 4th May 2016 in Auckland. Over 180 people attended the one day conference that focussed on the burning issues that a New Zealand CEO is facing daily.   

Here’s my take on the main talking points from the day…

CEO Summit 2016: The Uberfication threat to all NZ Businesses

Innovation is not optional

In one of the earlier sessions, speaker Stefan Preston showed a slide with logos from a number of high profile New Zealand businesses falling off a conveyor belt, into a rubbish bin. Slightly provocative but very powerful in its messaging. (Blockbuster Video was in the bin!). Stefan made a very good point about using Design Thinking to solve your customer’s problems and how, if you can prove an idea is desirable, feasible and viable, then you should go for it.

The term ‘Uberfication’ was mentioned at least five times throughout the different sessions. There is now a very real worry amongst all businesses that if they ‘stick to what they do’ they could become the next Blockbuster Video. A point was made that companies should also embrace automation rather than fight it. 

The Millennials are here…

Once again, The Millennials (those born after 1982) were referenced heavily. Quite a bit, in fact. Like it or not, businesses need to consider what they do and how they do it, in every aspect, because of this demographic.

You have to ask the question, “How would a millennial rate your business?” and “Why would they want to work in it?” This includes tools, processes, products and services that you sell also.

Not only will the Millennials be the majority of the global workforce by 2020; many will be running companies. In other words, your competition. In the technology-led world we live in, do you fancy your chances against these digital natives?     

Build a global brand… From little old New Zealand

My session of the day goes to AJ Bertenshaw and Steve West, founders of Serato. In case you didn’t know, Serato is the world’s leading DJ software. If you don’t believe ME, then check out this video from Fatboy Slim.

AJ and Steve had the room gripped, telling them about how they started their business which allowed DJs to manage their audio outputs (originally with vinyl!). A business which started from a small Auckland Office in 1997 has become a global brand.

Whilst obviously very technically gifted, I thought it was inspiring that they also knew when they had to diversify.They saw that certain revenue streams were going to reduce over the years, so created new revenue sources through partnerships with hardware companies like Pioneer. 

Looking to the future, Steve’s new company www.charge.net.nz is going to provide over 100+ charging stations for electric cars, over the next three years. He expects to do this by placing charge outlets at convenient locations around the country that can charge a car in less than 20 minutes. The success of this and other charging outlets is going to be critical to the success of electric cars in the future. I wish him every success.  


A CEO in 2016 has a lot to deal with. As we are entering a time of a technical revolution, companies that discover ways of embracing new technology for both their employees and customers will ultimately be successful. 

It was good to hear that others share Intergen’s sentiments that we cover in the Intergen ‘Less busyness more Business’ white paper, and these were reiterated over the course of the day. Which was refreshing to hear.

The danger of ‘Uberfication’ is very real now for businesses in every industry. The question businesses surely should be asking is: “How do I become the Uber of my industry?”


This blog entry is part of the series Less Busyness, More Business, featuring blog posts from leaders across Intergen. Each blog will focus on the digital transformation themes raised in our digital transformation guide and delve deeper into what digital transformation means for New Zealand organisations in specific technology areas.

Digital Transformation - Less Busyness, More Business

Posted by: Lee Stevens, Solutions Specialist, Product Management & Marketing | 10 May 2016

Tags: Digital Transformation, Less Busyness More Business

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