Matt Bostwick, Microsoft New Zealand Commercial Partner Director, discusses the need to celebrate innovation across the incredible New Zealand partner ecosystem.
This year’s Microsoft Partner Awards will be different from any other year’s. While, as always, we’ll be celebrating the amazing achievements of New Zealand organisations with the help of Microsoft’s Partner network, this is also an opportunity to acknowledge the resilience and adaptability of our local tech innovators during unimaginably challenging circumstances.
In 2020 we’ve seen tech innovators adapt overnight to new methods of delivering essential services to their customers, while also supporting those organisations to find new ways of doing business that would have seemed unthinkable a year ago. Time and time again, I hear people say: “the project we’ve just completed in 24 hours was supposed to take us six to 18 months”. Miracles have been performed on a daily basis, whether it’s supporting co-operatives like Farmlands to establish a new e-commerce platform in weeks, or helping our healthcare sector co-ordinate an effective emergency pandemic response across New Zealand even when many were working from home.
Microsoft’s recently-announced datacenter region in New Zealand is only going to speed up this transformation and rate of innovation. In fact, the technology sector has been so successful at supporting rapid digital transformation around the world that many see tech firms as the “winners” of the COVID-19 outbreak. That’s a simplistic view. The tech industry cannot grow at the expense of all other sectors – but it can help all businesses become more resilient, and support a healthier New Zealand economy when traditionally strong sectors like tourism and retail are being so heavily impacted. Microsoft has been helping ISV Partners like property valuation disruptor Valocity market and sell local tech innovation around the world from Australia to India, just one example of how businesses working together can reach so much further than ever before and drive tech exports.
That’s why the purpose of the Partner Awards is not to celebrate innovators’ success in isolation, but how they’ve enabled their customers to achieve more. The best tech companies are not just driving digital transformation for the sake of it, but because it makes their customers’ businesses stronger, helps them serve their own customers better and ultimately supports a stronger and more diverse economy that benefits everyone.
The winners of the 2020 Partner Awards need to have achieved more than driving record numbers of Teams chats or boosting productivity during lockdown. They need to have helped move their customers forward on their transformation journey, putting them in the right place not only to survive the current disruption, but build more sustainable businesses and stronger customer relationships.
Creating new customer experiences – Gallagher
Previous winner Enlighten Designs is a great example of a Kiwi business helping another business grow. Leading Waikato innovator Gallagher is world-renowned for its large-scale security systems for international companies, but when it wanted to branch into local small business security, it needed a scalable way to manage vastly more relationships – and also of understanding the new market.
Enlighten helped completely revamp its web platform and customer experience, so anyone from a local cake shop owner to the manager of a high-security prison could get the same personalised service. All while capturing unlimited data so Gallagher had a much richer understanding of who its customers were. The web platform is also enabling Gallagher to innovate with its security systems, so customers can monitor sites and activate alarms from their phones, changing the game for site security around the world.
Empowering culture – Te Wānanga o Raukawa
Success isn’t just about business. It can also mean enabling people and supporting culture. Pioneering tertiary institute, Te Wānanga o Raukawa, continues to lead the way in further education for Māori. Technology partner Intergen worked closely with the Wānanga team to realise their vision of a fully integrated online platform that provides easy access to rich student data in one place, so staff can allocate support and resources where needed, and students can access everything, including courses, via an online portal. Already pūkenga (academic staff) are using digital tools to monitor students’ different learning styles, changing up teaching methods as needed.
The transformation, which won last year’s Modern Workplace Award, has broken down the geographical and lifestyle barriers to learning, meaning countless more students have the ability to access kaupapa-based education at their own pace, in their own place, and fit their learning around work and family commitments. Numbers are no longer limited by physical resources.
This year’s Partner Awards are about recognising the people who made projects like these happen, despite the disruption in their own lives, innovating at speed to help other New Zealanders deliver essential services and perform under pressure. We’ve seen huge acceleration in digital transformation, but it won’t stop there. Once everyone is on the same playing field, there will need to be new ways of standing out from the competition, meaning innovators will be more in demand than ever.
I can’t wait to see what this year’s awards have in store.
If you’re a Microsoft Partner with an amazing project that deserves some recognition, enter the awards here. Entries close on 9 October 2020.