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What happened at ITx2016?

On July 11-13, NZRise was part of a huge technology and digital conference in Wellington. ITx2016 brought together 12 tech agencies from across the country to collaborate and share at a 3-day conference. NZRise hosted a stream on day one which included:
– A tech focused Q&A session with the Wellington City Council mayoral candidates for the upcoming election
– The ins and outs, the good and bad about Blockchain (presented by Vikram Kumar)
– Lightning Talks: Disruption. Hosted by Ian Apperley with presentations from members Clint Van Marrewijk, Mike Riversdale, Ruth McDavitt, Rohan Wakefield, Nicolas Erdody and Dave Lane.

A huge thank you to our speakers for doing their thing, your contribution to our membership (and lives) is very much enjoyed.

You can find more about ITx2016 here.

If you were unable to make it to ITx2016, we thought you’d like to know what you missed, so have collated key takeaways from our stream as well as some sessions our members were involved with.

Enjoy
~ Bronnie

Talking Tech with the Wellington Mayoral Candidates
View the video of the Q&A session here.
Read the transcript here. ITx Mayoral panel transcript
Thanks to Jo Coughlan, Justin Lester and Nicola Young for coming along and sharing their vision.

Blockchain, presented by Vikram Kumar
– Blockchains are transaction databases for the Internet Age
– Best used in distributed, decentralised systems
– Design choices include building on bitcoin vs. private blockchain and public vs. permissioned

The other thing people found interesting was the description of blockchains as a database are:
– Ordered storage of verified transaction records
– Immutable record of consensus
– Distributed (anyone can replicate & verify)
– Decentralised
– Global scale, public
– Security from bitcoin miners
– Slow, limited transaction capacity, not aligned with core purpose

Lightning Talks: Disruption
Clint Van Marrewijk
“Disrupting the GIS megaliths”
Clint is already so on-to-it he’s got a blog that explains his talk already! Check it out here.

Mike Riversale
“IT planning is pointless!”
Miramar Mike on stage

Nicolas Erdody
There are new buzzwords in and around IT: Machine Learning, Precision Agriculture, Computing at the Leaf, Industry 4.0 and many more. What they have in common is that they produce data workloads at a rate which usually was at the realm of HPC (High Performance Computing). Today’s HPC will become tomorrow’s Cloud -thanks to distributed computing and parallelism, something that we have been promoting in New Zealand for years through our conference Multicore World (20-22Feb 2017, 6th edition, Wellington). And we are not just watching this revolution from NZ: we are actively participating on its discussion as part of the pre-construction design of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio-telescope, the largest scientific instrument of the 21st century, which apart from revealing mysteries from the universe, is pushing the boundaries of software and computing: it is the largest BigData project in History.

Click here to see Nicolas’ slides from his presentation in the IITP stream N Erdody ITx2016_Is_your_IT_project_Black_Swan_1.2

Rohan Wakefield
“Disruption in education”
Technology is pushing this world and is creating opportunities in every sector. Our education has not caught up and still models itself on the industrial age. Most people think of education as something you do when you leave high school and are getting ready for the work force. Folks changing careers often only have the same education pathway (3 years degree) which is not suited to their needs. This is a killer for a field like IT where we are horribly short on talent and there are lots of people who would be amazing programmers but chose other pathways.

We are rapidly growing the number of programmers in NZ by providing fast and effective training to help people switch careers. We have done this off our own back without formally engaging with NZQA and just helping people get jobs, and have learned a lot of things along the way. Degrees don’t take 3 years because that is how long it takes to train a programmer or how long it takes to help someone get ready for work. They take 3 years because they have always taken 3 years and because our system incentivises inefficient education.

Academia and industry have become detached from each other. Everyone has ‘industry advisory panels’ which are rubbish – we aim for our teachers spend 12 months in 24 on commercial projects. Our admissions staff are the ones who help students get jobs and deal with employers directly. When the industry changes, we change.

When we went out to industry and asked what skills the ideal candidate had they said:
1. Passion for all things tech
2. An ability to learn
3. An ability to motivate themselves and others. An ability to negotiate
4. Empathy – with others in the org with future coders
5. Team skills – the lubrication that makes working in teams a joy.

Who teaches this? We didn’t find anyone so thats why we started.

We have been going for over 2 years and our core product is tested and strong. We are now thinking about new products that serve the tech sector. Our goal is to make tech the biggest sector in NZ. We will do this by being the learning partner to the tech industry.

What do you need to learn for a world you don’t know?

Ruth McDavitt
“Mythbusting: There is no tech shortage in NZ”
There is no tech talent shortage in NZ, but there is a skills, training & opportunity shortage.

We have a healthy talent pipeline, and an oversupply of graduates coming into IT. The staircase from school to career is broken, and we need more, better connections and opportunities to grow our local talent to fill the needs of our local industry.

There is an oversupply of graduates right now, not enough vacancies for entry-level or graduate candidates. Many of our IT grads are looking overseas for opportunities, or accepting roles in other industries because they can’t get a foot in the door.

Skilled migrants are part of the solution, but to fix our recruitment problem we can do a better job of finding & growing local tech talent. 3% of secondary school students say they want a career in tech. We need to support teachers & curriculum development in line with industry needs. Can we promote tech career opportunities better? Yes we can.

We also need to ensure that candidates have the right skills for the job. IT companies say they hire for attitude and train for skill. Technology is changing too fast for our traditional education system to keep up, so I propose more exploration of IT Apprenticeships, support for professional development, more internships, more recognition & support for on-the-job training. But we need to recognise that moving the burden of training to the employer means there is a significant cost to them in mentoring, training & supervising.

To fix the tech talent shortage, lets support NZ’s IT industry to find, grow, attract and retain our people. NZ’s already got great tech talent, let’s bridge the education and opportunity gap and get more of them into the industry as trainees.

Everything you know is wrong, by Ian Apperley
Adapt, or die. The way that we have traditionally managed IT is finished and unless we change radically to embrace that new wave, we will be made irrelevant. Smaller companies are eating the traditional multinationals and speed is the new competitive edge. If you don’t diversify your company and your teams then your edge is blunted. Modular companies and organisations will win as well low capital investment products. Skills are less important for staff as attitude and acumen become hot commodities. Automation has arrived and personally we must change our own stance and lives to ensure we continue to have careers.

Take a look at what Ian thought of ITx here.

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