Wired Wellington

August 26th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Strathmore Park blogs:

yesterday hosted what is, as far as I know, the first face to face between Wellington’s homegrown ICT companies and … the Prime Minister. In what has to be the coup of the local body elections to date, managed to get to come and spend some face time with over forty of Wellington’s local geek powerhouses at Prefab in Jessie Street.

The messages were clear. Nicola Young understands the value of the ICT community in Wellington, and given she is also running for the Lambton Ward as well as mayor, that’s important for that community as they live, breathe, work, and do business in that ward. We know that she has an inner geek, she’s admitted that she codes her own website manually.

I went along to the meeting and it was excellent. The range of people there ranged from some of the more well known ones locally such as Catalyst and Powershop to ones which are doing great stuff globally such as the firm which has sold more than 3 million educational devices globally.

Let’s look at some of the messages out of this event.

Firstly, Nicola is serious. To organise an event like this takes a lot of effort and long days. 

Secondly, Nicola is serious about ICT as an industry in Wellington. She could have organised any number of industry groups, but she singled out ICT as a sector and did something for them. It shows a passion for the industry (you can’t hide that inner geek).

Third, John Key turned up and spent a good deal of time talking with the various geeks face to face about what they were doing, challenges, and so on. I want to stress something else here. This was an event with no mainstream media, I suspect that David Farrar and I will be the only ones to write about it. It wasn’t a PR stunt on John Key’s part, and that’s interesting, because that means that Nicola Young has the ear of central government all the way up to the Prime Minister.

In other words, the Prime Minister didn’t turn up because he was going to score media points, he turned up because Nicola asked him to come.

This definitely wasn’t a media opportunity. In fact Nicola and the PM spoke for less than five minutes. After that the PM talked one on with one with each person there over the next hour and a half or so. So it was a great opportunity for each local firm to let the PM know about what they were doing.

I was also very heartened that when the PM did speak, he talked about how the Government is very focused on not having big projects such as the new IRD computer system become something that only global multi-nationals can realistically tender for and that the path they are heading down is to do it in a series of smaller developments rather than one big project. This is exactly what people like Rod Drury had been advocating.

Also was interested to talk to Ari from Powershop and find that they now have around 19% of residential customers. That’s a great success story for a company just a few years old that operates almost entirely over the Internet. It also shows how competitive the retail electricity market is if they can go from 0% to 19% in five years.

Well done to Nicola for organising the event. I think it would be a great template for other centres to use also – instead of masses of speeches, or a cocktail function, you actually give 20 to 30 entrepreneurs face time with the PM.

WCC Watch covers this also.

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6 Responses to “Wired Wellington”

  1. Alan (910 comments) says:

    Of course the IRD gig is going to a large multinational. The idea that you can chop it up into small bits and it’ll all hang together at the end is a farce.

    You need someone that has got experience on a big scale and proper process and governance.

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  2. Nicola Young (3 comments) says:

    It was an excellent template, and – if elected as Mayor – I’d make it a regular event, and roll it out across other sectors. Great way to take Wellington to the Beehive!

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  3. MD (60 comments) says:

    @Alan
    “You need someone that has got experience on a big scale and proper process and governance.”
    Because that approach has been so successful to date with government IT projects. /sarc
    There is no reason not to chop it up into small components and define what each component does and the interfaces between them. In fact that is exactly what should be done, and the only way this will ever be successful. I’m not holding my breath.

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  4. Alan (910 comments) says:

    I’ll assume you’ve never worked on an IT project of this scale.

    A prime vendor bring accountability, your approach of doing detailed design (which is the bulk of the actual work) and then parceling out chunks of delivery work to disparate vendors is a recipe for chaos.

    It brings far too much risk to the tax payer.

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  5. Matt (221 comments) says:

    But Alan, wouldn’t the “prime vendor” just break up the project and give each bit to a different team anyway? What does it matter if each team is a different company?

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  6. Alan (910 comments) says:

    You have a single financial contract. A single PMO with a consistent methodology and process, a single reporting structure.

    That’s why it’s different.

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