How lucky are we?
We don’t know how lucky we are. A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 2020 Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards. As Vanessa Sorenson, our Microsoft New Zealand Managing Director said, we may have just celebrated our 13th annual partner awards, but it feels like an incredibly lucky number.
Every single one of our Microsoft partners and their customers have faced extraordinary challenges this year, and to hear the stories of their success and see the results they’ve achieved in spite of everything is a great reminder of how far we’ve come in just a few months. And to be the only Microsoft subsidiary in the world to be able to celebrate our partners’ successes together in one room – more than 400 of us at the Auckland Town Hall – shows just how fortunate we really are in Aotearoa.
But it wasn’t just luck that got us here. Above all, the Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards is a showcase of hard work, grit and innovation. To quote Vanessa again: our technology industry has looked the challenge of 2020 in the eye and seen an opportunity to help. This year’s winners have seized the opportunity to create solutions to potentially devastating challenges for their customers, using data and technology to fight the virus and empower New Zealanders to do more in truly exceptional circumstances.
Right from the start, I saw some common themes across the award entries: supporting culture and inclusion for all New Zealanders, helping local businesses stay in business, our public sector to protect our people, and enabling the future through new platforms and technologies. Country Partner of the Year, Enlighten Designs, led the charge to transform our world for the better, helping charity Sustainable Coastlines clean up our beaches through ground-breaking AI and data analytics.
Our Cloud for Good award winner, Datacom, supported Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara to build a cloud platform enabling iwi members to access their whakapapa online – names, identities, turangawaewae – and foster a greater sense of connection with their people, their land and their heritage. Empowered by the cloud, the organisation is also much better able to provide grants, education and other services that uplift their community.
NV Interactive, winner of the Engaging Customers award, helped Māori landowners navigate the complex journey of land ownership, providing whanau with information that’s easy to find, use and understand through its work with Tupu.nz. Meanwhile, thanks to Fusion 5’s incredibly fast work, Manawanui, a key agency that facilitates funding for the disabled, was able to identify vulnerable clients needing PPE the same day it received a directive from the Ministry of Health.
But our Partners have also done a great job of keeping businesses going this year in the face of special new challenges. As Kiwi organisations stepped up their digital operations, cyber criminals also stepped up their game. Defend is a perfect example of a technology innovator protecting our vital businesses in the face of the other viral threat, keeping leading kiwifruit grower Zespri up and running in the face of cyber attacks – and supporting our national economy. And Azure Migrate award winner Datacom worked with the Financial Markets Authority to keep data safe with the power of Microsoft cloud and security tools.
And as we hurtle towards the future, new technologies are going to change the game even more. Winning the Optimising Operations category (and also the award for Coolest Job Description), the team at Rocos are masters of controlling fleets of robots. The prospect of Microsoft partners like these designing revolutionary new products that drive new revenue streams and have positive impacts on our society fills me with incredible optimism.
I know there’s a lot of uncertainty ahead, but in the Auckland Town Hall, surrounded by some of the greatest innovators in New Zealand, I felt a real sense of confidence. With Microsoft’s new datacenter region on its way to Aotearoa, our partners will be able to unlock even more opportunities and growth, paying a ’cloud dividend’ for our economy, community and environment. This year showed what our tech innovators can do in a few months, Just imagine what the next few years will hold.
To all of Microsoft’s partners, thank you for the incredible mahi you do. I’m lucky to work with you.
See a full list of winners here.