The panel

Tofigh Alizadeh, chief operating officer, NZPM Group

Christine Jull, IT leader, GE Capital

Roger Jones, manager, IT and business Systems, Auckland Transport

Peter McDowall, ICT director, St John

Andy Parker, director of information and learning technologies, St

Cuthbert's College

Tyrone Paynor, IT manager, Auckland Co-op Taxis

Chris Poulter, CIO, PBT Group

Ben Robinson, CIO, Paymark

Andy Stewart, manager, information and technology, The Selwyn Foundation

David Moss, CIO, Vodafone New Zealand

Becky Lloyd, general manager, business and marketing, Vodafone New Zealand

The near future

Christine Jull: We are focused on a diverse range of things, from regulatory change like the anti-money laundering legislation to new products in the credit card space to just trying to keep our costs down like everybody else, do the basics right and find smarter ways to do things.

David Moss: The biggest challenges at the moment for Vodafone are the acquisition of TelstraClear and the consolidation of all the technologies associated with that. Then from a business perspective we have got the continuous pressure on the market, economy, and the revenues and costs, driving efficiency across our business in terms of staff, and using mobility to do that.

The world is changing all the time, mobility is a big part of that and there are a whole lot of new products and services that we're looking to support over the next three to five years which require technology changes to support it.

Andy Parker: The opportunities we are seeing are allowing students to bring into their classroom environment their innate skills in using IT, to embrace and allow them to use all the devices that they carry around every day, and to encourage teachers to allow that to happen, [and] allow personalised learning for those students.

Andy Stewart: We are an aged care organisation. We do a whole contingent of care for the elderly. We have GP practices, hospitals, rest home level care and invalid facilities. We've got some big changes at the moment we are trying to grow up this organisation from this little village organisation we were to something a bit more corporate.

My predecessor wasn't part of the executive team and now I am. We've got a new CEO, we've got a new strategic plan that has just been signed off. We've got some new people on our executive team. It is quite a big change in terms of culture and to make things a little bit more commercial as well as keeping the good things that went on before. There are a whole bunch of things that are IT related.

Tofigh Alizadeh: I come from a CIO background, but even now as part of business transformation, IT still reports to me. So really my role is redesigning the business in a way where we become much more customer focused, using technology and better processes.

The reason the operational side is quite exciting to me now is because every aspect of everything I do every day uses some kind of technology in a different way -- email, internet -- you name it, it comes into play. I think trying to separate technology from business now is just not something you should do, and that is why I think CIOs have a huge opportunity to transition into business because they understand the challenges between the different functional areas and operationally they understand the roles better than some of the business people.

Also the other side is true, I've worked with our marketing team and they know more about the whole internet web and that type of technology better than our technology people.

Roger Jones: Our big project at the moment is putting all our services online, obviously integrated ticketing is one of the other big ones and the other one is re-engineering all our business processes to get efficiencies out of all of the business. A lot of it was because Auckland Transport was formed two years ago, we're merging the systems. That is a whole change of business process at the back end. IT will be the business system that is leading that, so we lead essentially the change management component through the organisation.

Tyrone Paynor: We have a 13-year-old legacy system for a despatch system for our taxis and we are now migrating to more modern software and hardware technologies.

Chris Poulter: My focus over the next wee while is going to be looking at how we can move to more modern systems because we are finding issues with anything where we want to leverage the web or utilise mobile technology, our back end systems hinder us massively.

Key drivers

Peter McDowall: The biggest things that impacted us were the earthquakes in Christchurch. It was almost a whole year out of our plans that really disappeared because of the response around that. But what it did generate from a technology perspective was an absolute change in thinking about the way we think about our datacentre. We had an urgent need to shift to a portable datacentre environment.

Roger Jones: Economics always impacts on a council organisation. The objective obviously is to keep costs well done, especially in the current environment. There are always those opportunities to identify where you can save money or get better efficiencies but still expand and meet customer requirements, and those customers are very diverse.

Christine Jull: Probably the biggest impact for us has been the growth of the team. We have doubled in size over the last year just to make sure that we have the capacity to deal with a variety of things that we need to do.

Customers expect to be able to get anything and everything on mobile now. And it is figuring out how that will support our business partners.

Andy Parker: The staff challenge is dealing with a curriculum that is not moving but technology that is moving and teaching the existing curriculum and keeping the results going well, but also allowing and encouraging the students to use whatever it is they want to use, and enabling them to do that. Our teachers are very well established teachers, they have been in the college for a long time and produce great results.

Tablets at work

Peter McDowall: There has been a conversation going on in healthcare for about 10 years about joined up health information. It has been quite a real option in ambulances for about 10 years since mobile devices connected to a data network have been an option. With the advent of tablet technology it has made it cheaper for us to consider putting devices into every ambulance and the project has kicked off to do that.

It will do two things: it will improve the patient care that we have provided to the people in the back of the van obviously because their clinical content will be available to the ambulance staff. The other massive outcome for New Zealand is that we will be able to use that information to avoid taking people to hospital and join them up with more appropriate services closer to home.

Andy Parker: One of the biggest changes for us was tablet technology coming along with a sub-$1000 price tag. We've always had sub-$1000 but that was a really low quality device. Now you get a high quality device at the same price that does everything you probably want it to do.

But technology in schools probably isn't one of the biggest intervention factors for changing results. It's still about great teaching. There is still a space where kids have to learn what gravity is by falling out of a tree.

The new ecosystem

Tofigh Alizadeh: From an innovation perspective, we're still looking for new channels, new products, new services. Our model is interesting, we are a co-operative of customers [NZPM is a national co-operative whose brands include Plumbing World and Patton]. We have got 1000 shareholders who actually buy from us on a daily basis through our biggest subsidiary. That actually adds to some of the complexity around how we implement systems or introduce new products and services, but it also has opportunities.

Tyrone Paynor: [During] the Rugby World Cup, Auckland Co-op Taxi partnered with different taxi companies around New Zealand to provide a one-stop taxi service shop. After the Rugby World Cup it just made sense, not only marketing would be synergised but even technology. So what Auckland Co-op did was they [provided] all their services to these small taxi companies like Hamilton Taxis, Rotorua Taxis, Tauranga Taxis. The despatch system was deployed to them as well as the call centre services and our reporting, database and administration services. It is now a shared service for all these taxi companies.

Ben Robinson: Our situation is a little bit unique because we are a utility. We have very predictive cash flows so we have invested in technology right through the recession. Basically the shops are fine, it is more what is happening in the market that is impacting us.

An example would be that we process the payments for the banks, what if payments shift to bypass the banks? I will give you two scenarios: we're probably all familiar with PayPal. The bank is involved when you first credit your PayPal account because you have to move money from your bank account to PayPal, but from then on the banks aren't involved they are bypassed.

So if the banks are bypassed we are bypassed. One of the biggest hindrances to mobile payments is the way that the banks and the telcos aren't working together, and that is a gap we are trying to plug in New Zealand at the moment. If we sort that out New Zealand will stand out and show the rest of the world how it is done.

David Moss: I agree totally with you. Telcos and banks should work more closely -- starting with the project that you're working on, which is really exciting.

Roger Jones: I think the challenge is what is going to be a bank in five years' time. The banks are going to have to change because a bank could be a supermarket, it could be anything.

Ben Robinson: Tesco in the UK is a good example. Tesco is interesting because they do banking and they do insurance and they also do mobile phones.

Becky Lloyd: The person-to-person payment is really interesting because we're seeing that take off more in emerging markets, where banking is scarce and it is very hard to either get finance or get a bank account or it is a long way to the nearest branch. There are a whole bunch of things that are emerging from markets that are less developed because they don't have the legacy and infrastructure that we have here. You see it also in people going straight to mobile and bypassing fixed line, because why would you bother to dig up the road when you can go straight to mobile?