It's time New Zealand seriously started to invest in promoting technology, the country’s third largest export industry and fastest growing sector of our economy, a leading New Zealand tech businessman says.
NZTech and FinTechNZ chair and Augen Software Group director Mitchell Pham says when Kiwis are in Asia and ask locals what they know about New Zealand, they generally say tourism, education, dairy, beef and lamb, high quality food products and other primary exports – never technology.
“It is highly unlikely that technology innovation or digital products would be mentioned, even though we have thousands of world class tech companies in this country,” he says.
“I want to see New Zealand technology promoted to the world just as we have made a huge effort over the past 20 years to globally feature tourism in this country.
“As a technology entrepreneur who has travelled extensively throughout Asia, the lack of knowledge of Kiwi tech ingenuity is a constant frustration for me. There's no place in the Asian region where I can use the NZ Inc. brand to help position a tech business as being from a well-known high-tech export nation.
“This is why NZTech is actively working to develop the NZ Tech Story in collaboration with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and New Zealand Story to add being a high-tech nation as an integral part of the story we tell the world about ourselves. We can all participate and add to the development of the story via the NZ Tech Story Forum on LinkedIn.
“New Zealand has invested heavily in promoting education and tourism for decades, which is why we are so well known in Asia for these industries. It's time we make an on-going investment into promoting our fastest growing sector of our economy. The sooner the better, as it will take time to build the brand association between NZ and high-tech nation.”
Pham says the tech sector is not an island. As most Kiwi tech companies are still relatively new to business development in Asia, it would be smart and important for them to work alongside other New Zealand industry sectors which have been doing so for much longer and are therefore bigger, stronger and better known. Technology businesses are more relevant when promoted as part of the sectors that they serve.
Tourism, education, dairy, beef and lamb, fruit, wine, high quality food products, other primary exports, banking and engineering are just some of the sectors that have been developing in Asia for some time, he says.
“Critical mass is important for branding in Asia. So while we haven't got many large tech brands from New Zealand, such as Orion Health and Xero, we do have a large number of tech firms.
“NZ Techweek next year will be a huge opportunity to promote tech. International tech people will come to attend our events and we want to put NZ on the world tech map. Bringing together hundreds of events into the same week is better than spreading them across the calendar. The sheer number of Kiwis who come out to attend the events will also show critical mass and attract attention.
“We should also work smartly by tapping into relevant networks that are available to us. High-value and high-trust networks are full of influencers and connectors, so they are good channels to push the NZ tech story, such as KEA, New Zealand Asian Leaders (NZAL), ASEAN-NZ Business Council and similar networks connected in New Zealand and Asia.”
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