First NZ Business for Better Event brings software solutions for SMES

 |   Ashlea Lynch

Lisa King keynote speaker

The first Microsoft Business for Better event took place on March 11 in Auckland as an audience of SMEs gathered to learn about tech to help their business level up. Attended by over 200, Business for Better at the Pullman Hotel was a first for New Zealand.

Keynote speaker Lisa King – winner of the MYOB Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award – began the day sharing the story of Eat My Lunch, which started in a Mt Eden home kitchen in June 2015 before looking at $2m of equity and major corporate catering clients last year.

Eat My Lunch – which was King’s first business – began with taking inspiration from TOMS, a US shoe company which donates one pair of shoes to the underprivileged for every pair sold. King was inspired to set up a social enterprise model in which every Eat My Lunch customer enables one lunch to be donated to a Kiwi school pupil.

As King told the Business For Better audience, after overcoming self-doubt, a bank loan rejection and refusal to be constrained by the structure of a typical charity, King’s company hit its three year earnings forecast within just 12 weeks of launching. This immediately created challenges. Delivery of lunches to thousands of customers in crowded Auckland by 12.30pm each day was, in the company’s early days, organised on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

This proved inefficient and wasteful, King explained – until a software solution arrived.

“Our saviour was implementing route optimisation software which sorts the deliveries into runs based on the fastest route – this is then sent to the driver’s phone, and tracking is done at head office by GPS,” King explained.

“Without technologies to help us optimise our processes, we wouldn’t have been able to scale to where we are now, 4.5 years later.”

Lisa King, Founder & CEO

Panel discussion at Business for Better Event

Following King’s presentation, Microsoft APAC SMB Lead Glenn Woolaghan spoke about NZ businesses increasing productivity without increasing costs, including Sustainable Coastlines which uses Azure, Power BI and Microsoft AI to coordinate its litter monitoring programme. Woolaghan also named Michael Hill Jeweller as an example of a Kiwi business using predictive analytics to gather real-time customer data to serve customers as well as possible. Woolaghan said businesses should follow the example of the NZ Privacy Commission, which uses Azure and Office 365 to take care of data security so resources can be deployed to other parts of the business.

Deaf Aotearoa CEO Lachlan Keating also spoke about digital transformation to increase efficiency in other parts of a business. Keating shared Deaf Aotearoa’s story of cloud migration, adopting video conferencing, handling invoices and travel with digital tools and centralising 13 offices while avoiding staff redundancies – all thanks to better use of tech.

Declan Ingram, operations manager for MBIE’S Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ) talked about security help responses for SMEs, demonstrating how phishing can be minimised if businesses adopt stronger authentication processes, especially multi-factor authentication.

Discussion at Business for Better Event

The second part of the event had three breakout sessions running simultaneously where Microsoft co-presented alongside other Kiwi businesses on stage. ‘Moving your business to the Cloud’ explored common cloud migration scenarios that can benefit most small and mid-sized businesses and held a customer panel to feature the digital transformation journeys of smartAR and Torutek.

The ‘Building Applications’ session deep dived into how software vendors can develop and take their apps to market with support and resources from Microsoft. The session was co-presented with Lancom and Parallo, two Microsoft IT providers that are fostering the software development market in New Zealand.

The Art of Teamwork’ breakout session examined how collaboration can inspire innovation, especially using Microsoft Teams, with Microsoft Territory Channel Manager Paul Bowkett explaining the interface between Teams and modern devices, in an age in which many organisations have remote workers. Bowkett hosted Microsoft One Commercial Partner and SMC Director Sarah Bowden on stage to have an inside look at how Microsoft does collaboration internally. To close the session, Callum Mitchell, Head of ICT at RightWay Accounting, spoke about how RightWay has tackled productivity within their business by replacing several different apps, and multiple logins, by Microsoft 365 providing a streamlined experience for their staff.

Watch the highlights video

YouTube Video


You can download all the presentations from the event on this link via LinkedIn PointDrive.