Techweek 2019: Are we innovating for the best or is it the Wild West?

2019 05 21 14 59 15 016


We recently hosted an event for Techweek 2019, where our expert panel discussed the role of standards in the digital economy under the topic, 'Are we innovating for the best or is it the Wild West?'

The discussion was wide-ranging and entertaining, and we had some great interaction from our audience.

We have curated the key themes from the event and are excited to share these with you. We hope you enjoy the insights this Techweek event generated!

Key themes

1. Awareness around privacy

The perception around privacy laws is changing. They aren’t about secrecy, they are about transparency, and they should be seen as a seatbelt, rather than a handbrake. Digital identity is a core issue and standards are needed to help manage privacy in this area.
Panellist quote: ‘New Zealanders will demand ownership of their data. Government and standards will have a role to play.’

2. Individuals control their own data

There is an awakening of consciousness around the value of data. People are worried about Big Brother and the policing of their digital activity. Data monopolies are making money from consumer data. There is a place for a community-governed approach.
Panellist quote: ‘Return the value of data to the consumer.’

3. Compliance needs enforcement

You need a regulator that’s empowered to enforce. Standards and legislation can provide important guidelines to make it clear what we can and can’t do.
Panellist quote: ‘We need standards, but they need to be enforced.'

4. NZ has limited resources

Government and industry have limited capacity for standards creation. New Zealand doesn’t have the resources to attend many ISO committees. We need to marshal our forces and select a few committees to maximise our impact. A true partnership between government and industry is needed.
Panellist quote: ‘In some areas it’s important for NZ to be standards makers, but we have to be selective.’

5. Blockchain decentralises data control

Data monopolies like Facebook have been operating like they’re in the Wild West. This makes the use of blockchain technology attractive. Blockchain has also had its own Wild West; the industry is now looking for standards.
Panellist quote: ‘Blockchain has begun to show value with self-sovereign identity.’

6. NZ a thought leader

New Zealand needs to be part of the global conversation, but we need to pick which industries to participate in. Good options include IoT, traceability, mobility, and food. We can lead by reputation; we are low on the corruption index and are a good place to test technology.
Panellist quote: ‘We have to control our own destiny and understand where the value is for NZ.’

7. Balance between innovation and control

A light touch is needed for standards if they’re not to be a handbrake, particularly during the innovation phase. However, small companies need some certainty, so at a point you need to prescribe.
Panellist quote: ‘Certainty on good practice is needed. A lack of certainty can be a handbrake.’

8. Don’t codify too early

Technology goes through a period of creativity and diversity, followed by a period of natural selection. Standardisation allows us to move forward, build the next platform, and add value. If you codify too early it can be a brake on innovation. We have the curse of legacy systems, which allows other countries to leapfrog us.
Panellist quote: ‘While it’s important to manage risks, government is slow with experimentation and innovation.’

9. Government should set an example

Government can set the tone and example in standards and strategy, particularly with privacy and digital identity. It also has a clear role to play in safety, privacy, and education. We need a true partnership between government and industry.
Panellist quote: ‘Supervising bodies need to step up and provide guidance.’

10 hot topics for 2019/20

  • Digital identity
  • Visual identity
  • Blockchain
  • IoT, building, traceability, food, traffic
  • Open APIs exposing government data
  • Control over personal metadata
  • AI strategy
  • Privacy bill
  • Environment: Water and data quality
  • Data quality

Published in business and ICT.