Sixty-nine chief executives responded to an open-ended question as to what they would like to see from the Labour Shadow Finance Minister Grant Robertson in terms of policy.
“Continue to constrain public expenditure to core and effective services,” advised Unitec CRO Rick Ede. “Reset taxation and investment incentives to favour productive investment instead of property investment.
“Continue the investment approach to welfare services begun by Bill English.”
Many, but not all, of the themes on Robertson’s own priority list resonate with the boardroom. With 67 per cent per cent of CEOs predicting technological advances will be the single factor with the biggest impact on business in the next five years and a further 7 percent singling out job losses through technology, it is clear Robertson’s Future of Work initiative falls on fertile ground.
• Find ways for industry to add value and diversify the economy: lift productivity and add value to primary industry and invest more in R&D.
• Focus on regional development and lift wages outside the main centres. Auckland’s infrastructure and housing is under pressure. Housing costs less in the regions but there are not enough good jobs.
• Future of Work project to address the challenge of technology-led change head-on.
• Share the rewards from prosperity: many people work hard and yet they don’t earn enough to buy a house.
“When I attend a business dinner, the conversation often turns to inequality. Many business leaders are concerned about this. They realise it can mean both a loss of potential and it can become a drain on the economy. Even organisations like the OECD, which is hardly a left-wing body, recognises that inequality inhibits growth,” says Robertson.
When asked “what factors will have the most impact on business over the next five years, two-thirds of bosses nominated technological advances. Nothing else came even close.
You can interpret the question as good or bad depending on whether your business is the disruptor or the disrupted.
In comparison, online security is unequivocal. New Zealand’s bosses named it as their number one concern.
Online security has been bubbling under the surface as an issue in recent years.
In this year’s New Zealand Herald Mood of the Boardroom survey, the nation’s bosses placed it first in a list of 16 possible concerns. And by a long way.
The Mood of the Boardroom team asked ore than 100 New Zealand business leaders to rate items on this list out of ten. A score of one meant there was no concern, a score of ten ranks as extreme concern. Cybersecurity scored 7.16.
Many leaders ranked online security at either nine or ten. It came in a lot higher than the next most pressing concern; the result of the US presidential election.
If the survey was held this week, it may have ranked even higher. Most CEOs filled out their survey responses before the news of the Yahoo email breach was public
Another ugly side of technology change came up in the question about multinational tax avoidance.
While there have always been worries about transfer pricing and other was of minimising taxes, technology companies like Google, Apple and Facebook take it to new extremes. They pay next to no tax in New Zealand because they claim transactions here actually take place elsewhere.
The New Zealand Herald sent an email today inviting readers to subscribe to a NZ$25 a month digital edition.
This is a good idea. A digital edition is an exact electronic copy of the print edition. The paper is available online at 6am each day. It is separate from the website version of the paper at http://nzherald.co.nz.
You can read the digital edition from a Windows PC or Mac in a browser. There are apps for iOS and Android users.
Read on PCs, tablets, phones
The NZ Herald digital edition displays well on a big PC screen. A digital facsimile of the daily paper would be a joy to read on, say, the large version of the iPad Pro. You’ll get by fine on most laptops and 10-inch tablets.
A digital newspaper is harder work on a mobile phone. Small screens are not the best way to read tabloid pages. Yet even that format can be useful sometimes.
Digital newspaper editions are not new. They’ve been around since the 90s. A digital version of The New Zealand Herald was available on Pressdisplay (now called PressReader) when the Herald was still a broadsheet.
Like a newspaper, without paper
There are two reasons why a digital edition could be better than reading a website. First, web news pages lack context. You can instantly grasp the relative importance of stories and how they relate to each other.
While editors place the most important stories at the top of a list on a site’s home page, that’s not the same. And anyway, few readers arrive via the home page. For most news context is something decided by a Google algorithm or another automatic process.
Online news sites serve up atomised news, digital editions give a bigger picture.
The other aspect of old school print papers that you miss when reading news websites is the lack of filtering.
Papers are organised into sections: News, world news, business, sport and so on, but they serve up a wide range of material within these broad sections. You’ll find you’ll read more widely and are better informed — even if that is just a matter of glancing at headlines in passing.
The downside of a digital edition is that is out of date after publication. Although you might see this as a positive if you think of it a snapshot frozen in time.
At $25 a month, the NZ Herald digital edition is about half the price of having the print edition delivered. Some print subscriptions include the digital edition at no extra cost. For some readers that makes the digital edition great added value.
Given the high cost of printing and distribution, it might seem the publisher isn’t passing on all the potential cost savings.
In practice, it’s more complicated. Setting up the technology to deliver a digital edition is expensive, it may require frequent tweaking. Reader numbers for digital editions is often a fraction of print edition reader numbers. So these costs are shared by a relatively low number of readers.
One trick the Herald’s digital edition marketing effort has missed is offering a sample edition so potential customers can check the format is right for them.
Six years ago Rupert Murdoch hailed tablets as the newspaper industry’s saviour. That was premature. The industry is still stumbling to find a way to make money after the advertising apocalypse. Digital editions could help, but it puts the onus back on publishers to ensure the content is worth paying for.
Bill Bennett writes features for New Zealand Herald business reports.
If you’ve only just come to terms with cloud computing, here comes the next thing: fog computing.
“Fog computing is the necessary next stage on from cloud computing,” says Vikram Kumar, the chief executive of KotahiNet. “It is where the edge of networks become intelligent and autonomous.”
Fog computing has the features of cloud computing, such as data, computing, storage and applications. But instead of concentrating resources in a data centre, it moves them closer to where they are used. At times, it can mean putting computing resources in locations well beyond the reach of traditional networks. It turns out this is an ideal way of dealing with the Internet of Things (IoT).