IITP CEO Paul Matthews has achieved what others couldn’t manage: bringing together most of New Zealand’s IT-focused organisations under a single umbrella. Next year 11 other bodies will join IITP at the ITx 2016 conference in Wellington.

According to a press release, the three-day event, will be held at the TSB Arena and Shed 6 complex on 11-13 July 2016. The organisations behind ITx say they hope to attract 1200 attendees. It may pay to book early, Wellington isn’t awash with hotel accommodation.

The ITx organisers say while the event will include 12 tech-related conferences under one roof, there will be common sessions.

The organisations are:

  • The Institute of IT Professionals NZ (IITP), New Zealand IT Professionals;
  • NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech), represents tech companies;
  • NZRise, represents NZ-owned digital technology companies;
  • IT Service Management Forum NZ, tIT Service Management professionals;
  • Citrenz, computing schools in the Institute of Technology and Polytech sector;
  • Health Informatics NZ, individuals practicing in health IT;
  • Tuanz, IT and communications users.
  • Test Professionals Network, forum for promoting excellence in systems and software testing;
  • Agile Day, where Agile professionals come together;
  • InternetNZ, the voice of the internet community;
  • Project Management Institute of NZ, representing PM professionals; and
  • NZ Open Source Society (NZOSS), the body promoting Open Source Software in NZ

Bringing together so many bodies together for a single conference is a smart idea. Events of this nature are costly and time-consuming to organise, spreading the load makes sense.

Also, attendees, sponsoring companies and likely exhibitors are all under time pressure. Crunching everything into three busy days is a better use of everyone’s time.

While ITx 2016 makes commercial sense and is an outstanding political triumph, the need to pull multiple events into one reflects changing industry economics. Tech giants no longer make stellar profits, at least not the companies likely to take an interest in professional technology events.

The historic technology event scene came about because marketing dollars needed to find a good, productive home. Vendors no longer have as many marketing dollars to splash around, no matter how worthwhile the cause.

Similar pressure scythed through the technology press. It is now a fraction of its former size.

Consolidation in the tech conference sector mirrors the consolidation taking place in the wider technology industry.

IITP and Tuanz have a track record of interesting conferences. Here’s a wrap of what I found at the 2113 event.

cloud code of practice

The April 2014 special ANZ edition of Modern Infrastructure carries a story I wrote about the New Zealand Cloud Code of Practice.  Modern Infrastructure is a free download magazine, you have to give an email address and some personal details to get it. Once past that barrier you can get access to all the material on the site, there’s plenty of interest for IT professionals so if infrastructure is your thing, it’s well worth the effort.

I wrote the story for an international audience and came about because there’s a lot of overseas interest in the code. You may notice the subeditor turned the macro on the word  Māori into a tilde. Or perhaps the editor’s computer didn’t recognise the macron.

Most of the story is from an interview with Joy Cottle of the Institute of IT Professionals. She talks about how the code came about and the process of taking it from an idea to implementation.

It’s a real pleasure to be able to tell the world about a technology story where New Zealand is ahead of the pack. If you have more of them, please get in touch.

  1. A manufacturing revolution is coming.  3D printers are cool, but most do little more than make small plastic things. A printer making items out of metals like titanium is revolutionary.On the day before the IITP conference started delegates were taken on an tour of Tauranga’s innovation hot-spots. This incuded a trip to TiDA – the Titanium Industry Development Association at the Bay Of Plenty Polytechnic. From replacement body parts to small runs of tools like tiny adjustable spanners, the TiDA team show where manufacturing could be heading.https://twitter.com/zl2ucx/status/392859176696700928The cost of printing metal items is already as cheap as traditional manufacturing – once you’ve paid millions for the equipment. The economics are only going to get more compelling. One day I expect to see local three metal print shops in much the same way we now have copy shops.

    Wynyard Group CEO Craig Richardson presenting ‘Innovating for rapid growth’
    Wynyard Group CEO Craig Richardson presenting ‘Innovating for rapid growth’
  2. Innovative business can grow fast. Craig Richardson’s Wynyard Group proves it’s possible to grow an innovative company at breakneck speed. In his IITP keynote Richardson took delegates through his experience explaining where the best opportunities are to be found and how a New Zealand business can quickly exploit them.He says look for opportunities in places where megatrends clash, don’t chase others and choose billion-dollar categories with double-digit growth.
  3. The NZ government is thinking about teleworking. Tucked away, almost as an aside, at the end of Amy Adam’s presentation she said:”We’re not taking enough advantage of people who don’t need to be coming into the office.”Adams says the government is preparing a teleworking promotion. This could be a good move, although it is at odds with policies and comments from Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo.https://twitter.com/phpnz/status/393118737273856000

    Microsoft global chief privacy officer Brendan Lynch.
    Microsoft global chief privacy officer Brendan Lynch.
  4. Privacy can be innovation. That’s not an accurate report of what Microsoft chief privacy office Brendan Lynch said at the conference, it’s my interpretation of his theme. Another summary is:

    Companies worry about privacy for regulatory or compliance reasons. They should worry about it to keep their shareholders happy.

    Either way, attending to trust is a good business move.

    https://twitter.com/richardsoncp/status/393175630981779457

    Screen-Shot-2013-10-28-at-10.12.21-am

  5. You can’t legislate for innovation. New Zealand born Professor Barry Vercoe, who graduated from Auckland University in 1962, launched New Zealand’s One Laptop per Child programme at IITP scoring the conference’s most enthusiastic applause.Vercoe is one of the brains behind the low-cost laptops. He gave an inspiring presentation showing the potential of these computers to change people’s lives.https://twitter.com/saniac/status/393226272236527616
  6. Sales are vital. Yes that’s obvious, but Ed Robinson says the Aptimize business he co-founded only took off when he moved into sales. I’ve heard this before from other successful technology entrepreneurs.It seems no-one else is as good as selling ideas as the person who first has them.https://twitter.com/PeterMSalmon/status/393506300782317568
  7. Balancing privacy and security is dangerous. Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff dismisses arguments that privacy and security can be balanced. She says that’s the thinking that has lead to a surveillance culture. Instead she wants to see a two pillar approach where security and privacy are ensured.https://twitter.com/phpnz/status/393567816118304769

Apimize co-founder Ed Robinson says selling in a large market like the United States is not like selling in New Zealand. Sales people in Australia and New Zealand are generalists because our markets are small.

In the US, salespeople specialise. They work narrow niches. A sales person there might only deal with, say, network security software for large financial services companies.

It’s a graphic illustration of the scale required. On the other hand, the scale of the opportunity is also huge. Robinson has been there. After building scale and selling to Silicon Valley, his Wellington-based business was snapped up by Riverbed for US$30 million in 2011.

Robinson relocated to California. This week he was back in New Zealand to share the lessons he learned at the IITP 2013 Conference in Tauranga.

Sales are key

Sales are key to going global. It sounds obvious, but Robinson says things only took off when he moved from a technical role into sales. He says a company should aim to invest in the time taken to learn how to achieve repeatable sales while finding the first 100 customers. This process should take about six months. Once you’ve found 100 customers you can move to scale your business.

His advice is to start by identifying a single customer vertical market where customers face the same problem. Preferably you should target enterprise customers – that’s where there’s money although it can be difficult getting through their formal processes to the point where you get paid.

You should be able to respond to all customers with the same value proposition and deliver the same solution. Once you’ve settled on the right formula you can start repeating the sale as if you are following a script.

Fixing on a price strategy

Finding a price strategy is important. Robinson says there are six possibilities. Traditionally packaged software has been the most popular. The pay per use model works well if you’re selling content. He says you need to charge the same as others in the market if you take this approach.

Subscription software is replacing packaged software. The good side of the model is that you get recurring, predictable revenue and you start each month with as much revenue as the one before. Customers expect to pay relatively small amounts, go past $10 a month and consumers will resist. Enterprise customers are OK with subscriptions but prefer to pay annually – mainly because they face relatively high costs when making payments.

There’s no much control with the advertising model because it puts you at the mercy of the companies selling the ads. If Google changes its rates for Adwords, your income will change. With Freemium you should expect about one percent of users to pay for your product.

Offering a free product is only a temporary strategy and it requires deep pockets.

The trouble with marketplaces

Robinson says he is wary of marketplaces – like the Apple App Store or Google Play. He says they mainly exist for the benefit of the parent product. The companies running them need them to build their own momentum.

He has praise for the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco and says many of the New Zealanders in the US are only too happy to help others succeed. Connections like this are important in the US, especially in Silicon Valley where success often depends on making contact with the right people