24 August 2020 · Absolute IT
Despite our remote location, New Zealand contributes to the tech sector on the world stage. In the 21st century, almost all industries in the country have been improved in some way by IT. Kiwis have opened up to the fourth industrial revolution in their personal lives as well, being more engaged with Facebook than most of the world. Our minds are open to the new and different and we have a natural curiosity about the world evidenced by our love for world travel.
The New Zealand of 2020 is a greatly different society than that of 20, 30 years ago. Our distance from other developed countries is no longer a cultural barrier thanks to the global connectivity of today. While we do experience more modest economic conditions that can slow the mass adoption of technology into Kiwi society, we no longer lag years behind other countries in terms of knowledge and receptiveness to it. Costs are reducing and tech is continually prioritised by government and industry, as unexpected forces like COVID-19 enter the equation.
Our lives can be made safer and better by technology. The next 5 years will be fascinating to watch. So, what might be some tech that shapes NZ in the 2020s? We cover some below.
Transportation for decades has been a central role of NZ industry, from logistics to air travel to personal commuting. It is no secret now that traditional combustion engine vehicles produce pollution into the atmosphere. With environmental concerns higher than ever before, vehicle emissions are among the most-talked about factors in the conversation. Electric vehicles are fast moving from an expensive luxury item into the core technology countries and industry are looking to reduce the harmful impact of transport.
Electric Vehicles both at the personal and commercial levels are powered by batteries but operated and managed by a computer. The technology inside an electric vehicle doesn’t just move the car. Rather these vehicles are now moving digital hubs, connected to a variety of services. Just sit inside a Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model 3 and you’ll experience the ‘spaceship’ feeling many do the first time they experience EVs. Self-driving is the ultimate goal of the EV revolution, with many having this ability in a limited way.
Similarly, the commercial EV truck to move freight cross country includes technology like GPS and AI that could see efficiency of delivery maximised, as well as reduce accidents from driver fatigue during long hauls.
New Zealand society with the majority of users driving EV could make for a cleaner, greener country. But it could also help reduce accidents, prevent unsafe vehicles from being on the road, and even enable a commute to become part of the work day with automated driving.
The automotive service industry could start to shift to require more tech skills in order to diagnose and address issues relating to the complex computers found in EVs. This could offer the perfect crossroad to any IT geeks with a love for cars – we know there are plenty out there!
Technology’s most profound impact to a society is arguably how it serves people’s personal health and wellbeing. Significant time and investment is made globally into improving health with the power of digital and data. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has an excellent resource NZ Vision for Health Technology. This provides a glimpse into what our health system might look like from a digital perspective in about 5 or so years.
A feature of this vision is the access of information. Ever been frustrated telling the same story to 5 different medical professionals across different fields? Personal health data being captured digitally by health providers into one centralised place can allow all Kiwis to have visibility of their own health. Similarly, sharing of medical data between health providers can help support personalised, informed treatment and care. And anonymised group data could help inform advancements in treatment and understanding of conditions.
A data-centric approach to health by taking multiple real time data sets from various sources, will help our health system’s efficiency and effectiveness for Kiwis. Wearable technology and other personal devices can play a part in building your medical data, which could spot issues before they become serious. A virtual medical team and system could surface issues proactively, while still allowing the individual complete control and ownership of their health.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will play a key part in parsing data and identifying abnormalities which would trigger medical attention. AI/ML is a strongly encouraged discipline for tech professionals looking to work in fields like health, finance and anything else where patterns are important. But how about the data side of things? Health information is highly confidential but sharing this to medical teams, AI data sets and you is the whole point. This is why we expect to see a growing demand for cyber/data security skills across the country over the next 5 or so years.
In fact, as technology enters into more parts of our personal lives, the reliance on security expertise will only rise. While smart homes and cameras have become more popular for some enthusiasts, the technology has not entered a majority of houses. As the cost of these gadgets like smartphone controlled locks, lights, heating comes down, we’d expect the ‘smart’ home to be more commonplace. As households rely on smart homes and personal assistant devices to get more tasks done, a need for network security expertise will increase. While convenient, smart homes and online security cameras – like anything on a network – can potentially be accessed.
Outside the home, our personal data is also being captured for a variety of reasons. As people become more aware of this, a desire for less invasive behaviour is emerging. Companies like Apple have put personal data and security at the fore of their recent messages to the public, updating platforms and software to remove, reduce or secure personal data away from others. We would expect that data security is going to be a continually growing field of IT, with businesses wanting to ensure their customers are safe.
2020 really has been a year of forced digital communication. Despite living in circumstances most of us would have struggled to imagine prior, Kiwis have adapted, moving our business and personal interactions to video conferencing platforms. This isn’t a permanent change but it has shown our society that we can still be productive and connect digitally if required. Talking to our clients and candidates, some have even found remote working beneficial and will incorporate this as part of a regular work week going forward post COVID-19.
For many of us, the video chat loses some personal aspects of communication in person. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are technologies that while currently most popular with gaming enthusiasts, present a massive opportunity in the business world to replicate the in person experience for more interactive online communication. VR’s mainstream adoption may rely upon a killer app, platform, or device (similar to how the iPhone triggered the mass adoption of smartphones). But once that is done, global communication in a business context will likely be transformed forever. We can see a future in which trade deals are secured, overseas projects are won and travel is booked all within a virtual space.
What does this mean for tech professionals? Yes, AR and VR are a slow burn, but the move into it is inevitable. Look into VR development including the platforms, applications and coding required. You could be part of building the future of Kiwi communication!
Technology has made its way into agribusiness and agriculture in an effort to maximise yield, reduce costs and increase revenues. As artificial intelligence and machine learning improves, its application within agriculture promises to make farming ‘smarter’. New Zealand’s understanding of the sector, combined with AI expertise, could see our country take a lead role globally in the evolution of agri-tech. Using robots, drones and data will likely become the standard over the next decade or so, with these advancements simply supporting farmers – not replacing them.
Artificial intelligence as applied through machinery or analysis via aerial monitoring can help identify and eliminate weeds which impact crops and reduce produce. Data sets can be used to predict and manage seasonal variance, peak harvest times as well as efficient stock management. Activity planning on farms can be improved by capturing weather forecasting to automatically adjust scheduling.
Skills in AI, ML and predictive data analysis will be in high demand as core industries like agriculture adopt these new processes. The disciplines under the umbrella of information technology allow professionals to choose an industry of interest to apply their skills to. There’s never been a better time to be in IT.
Are you upskilling in new technologies and looking to apply these?
Absolute IT’s clients (employers) include some of the most forward-thinking businesses in New Zealand. If you’re skilled in any of the areas we’ve discussed today, get in touch with our team for a chat about any current opportunities to work with companies that need your experience!