Technology_Centre of a MindStorm

It can’t be an easy task, corralling New Zealand’s major telecommunications players to work together towards common goal. But when that goal is to help drive productivity improvements in the New Zealand economy through advances in ICT, there is widespread agreement that more needs to be done.
Meet David Stone, CEO of the Telecommunications Forum (the TCF). Stone is the driving force behind the upcoming MindStorm conference, an event being put on by, but not for, the New Zealand telecommunications industry.
You’re not going to hear mention of regulation, unbundling or pricing plans at MindStorm, says Stone: “Traditionally telecommunications industry conferences have been put on by third parties, and they’ve been taken as opportunities to bitch about government, bitch about regulation, and for the government to bitch about us. Our members don’t want that anymore; they want to showcase the positive things that the industry is doing for New Zealand business, we want to inspire our customers and show them the contribution that the telco industry can make to the New Zealand economy.
“We all know the issues that NZ businesses face. We’re group of small islands at the bottom of the world, and to overcome the tyranny of that distance NZ needs robust and innovative telco industry that is actively engaged at all levels of business. If we’re truly going to have ‘weightless’ economy, it will be the telco industry that is going to achieve that.
“Two years ago I heard the now late Sir Paul Callaghan speak. He gave series of lectures in which he laid down certain challenges and deflated certain myths about New Zealand, about our place in the world, and how we do what we do. It was listening to those lectures that gave me the context for this conference. We want, and need, to talk about lifting New Zealand’s productivity, and our industry is part of the solution around how we can innovate and drive benefits for NZ Inc.”
So how do you change the way that an industry talks about itself? Stone’s first idea was to change who they were talking to. “We need to talk to, and with, our customers.” And the second idea? Get some very smart people in the room. “We need the brightest minds that there are to talk about the issues and opportunities ahead of us,” says Stone.
And it seems that they’ve done just that. Alongside international speakers David Selinger from Rich Relevance, Allison Cerra from Alcatel-Lucent, and futurist Tim Longhurst, New Zealand business and thought leaders Tony Falkenstein from Red Eagle Corporation, and professor Shaun Hendy will be presenting their ideas to the crowd.
But don’t expect long winded presentations with painfully boring PowerPoint presentations. The world leading international and New Zealand speakers will be delivering fast paced, TED-style presentations on issues like big data analytics, the links between science, innovation and economic prosperity, and the challenges of New Zealand’s unique business environment. And in line with conference focused on the latest innovations, there is panel of under 30s business and technology leaders to speak about what the next generation of thinkers have planned.
Says Stone: “Technology is no longer just the domain of the IT department; it’s an integral part of any business strategy. Organisations know they need to address the challenges and opportunities arising from the convergence of social media, big data, analytics and cloud – it’s just case of trying to work out how.
“New Zealand is known as an ‘innovative nation’ that punches above its weight. As an industry, we want to continue to foster our can-do attitude, and help companies navigate their way through an increasingly digitally connected environment so that we can turn New Zealand into the type of economy we know it can be.”
• MindStorm is happening on Thursday 18 April at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland. Visit www.mindstorm.co.nz for more information.

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