NZ Innovation survey report 2018

We did a small survey on innovation that is 'good for the world' and New Zealand. We learned some super exciting insights and wanted to share them. Scroll down to see some of our most interesting highlights.

Why a survey?
Aera Foundation is a charitable trust that looks for imaginative ways to tackle social issues in New Zealand. These surveys help inform foundation strategies. Findings are shared with others to raise awareness of insightful views and voices.

Who took part?
We invited almost 4000 people in New Zealand who self identified as working in 'innovation'  to take part. The survey ran from May 8 to June 12 and 505 people responded. Almost half work in technology, government, finance or education.

What did we ask?
Ten questions covering the digital divide in our society; tech trends perceived to be impacting our lives and work; and views around smartphone dependency. We also sought opinions on expectations for the country's first government CTO, and asked for names of New Zealand innovators doing good for the world. We also wanted to know what they wish they could do online now that is not currently possible.

2_Survey Highlights

Bridging the digital divide

This was seen as a top priority in order to reduce society divides. There was is a need for better collaboration and dialogue between the public and private sectors to bridge the digital divide. Internet access should be as common as food and water, with all children having access for their education.

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New Zealand Innovators

People say we have many well-established New Zealand innovation pioneers doing good for the world. These innovators are using disruptive technologies for public good and for the good of New Zealand’s future. Top scores went to Peter Beck and Sir Ray Avery.

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We want to do more on the internet

We want to vote, see a doctor, set up a bank account, monitor our health, and engage with government online. The future of New Zealand is not only associated with high-tech products: there are several basic hygienic needs which still need to be fulfilled (e.g. internet access, mobile coverage).

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A digital strategy for New Zealand

There is a general expectation for both public and private organisations to put efforts into a digital strategy that support's the country's goals. People believe the role of new CTOs is to act like a mediator between the Government and citizens; and build collaboration among industries.

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Smartphone dependency

People are missing out on social opportunities, such as engaging in meaningful conversations. Some say children are having trouble developing social skills.

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Future impact

AI and electric or autonomous vehicles were seen to have biggest impact on our lives in the next 3-5 years. AI was named for its potential to address issues in health, transport and housing.

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3_Key Findings
1_Bridging the digital divide

Few can imagine not having internet at home, yet around 150,000 New Zealand children don't. What should be done about this?

Most agree that ensuring free access to home Internet is the duty of both the private and public sectors:

  • Public – Government should be responsible for funding projects linked to broadband services: e.g. subsidising devices, openning free hotspots, working together with telco companies
  • Private – Telco companies are seen as key players needing to extend the network coverage to less developed areas of the country (e.g. rural)
Participants’ profile by industry

Broadband is still seen as an expensive service, so making it more affordable could actually imply higher adoption rates also at home.

Internet access

Comments from the crowd

"Learning is a right in NZ, so access to internet must also be a right for learning to take place."

"Social services should provide internet, just as all children should have food, water, a place to live, a guardian they can trust, and education."

"Set up a social enterprise like Eat My Lunch for for internet, where you buy an internet connection for yourself and another is given freeto a disadvantaged family!"

"We don't socially accept our children being prevented from having access to health and education. 
Likewise we should ensure all children have access to internet services. This should be a basic right of all New Zealanders."

"I think there is an obligation from telcos/government to have internet access country-wide. 
There is infrastructure still required in this space. We should have internet access anywhere in NZ."

"Extension of programmes like Manaiakalani Education Trust to ensure all children have access to digital device and internet at low decile schools. 
Internet for all community sites, not just libraries."

2_Government CTO

What do you think should be the single most important thing this role should focus on?

The general expectation of the new CTOs is to act like a mediator between the Government and citizens; with, her/his key responsibilities being:

  • Develop an integrated digital strategy designed to support the country’s goals
  • Accelerate New Zealand as innovation hub by attracting talent, promoting hi-tech industries & sustaining community initiatives
  • Use education to support the use of technology and further foster innovation
  • Build collaboration between public and private sectors, and among different industries
Participants’ profile by industry
Government CTO

Comments from the crowd

"Educating NZ's youth in digital literacy, 
so they are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills for life in a fully digitised nation by 2030. 
This starts with ensuring that every child in NZ has access to the internet in their homes."

"Foster interaction & collaboration between universities and NZ SMEs. 
For example, NZ academics should dedicate some of their time (e.g. 5 to 10%) to help SMEs"

"New Zealand needs to grab new ideas and understand that innovation is not an expense, it's an investment."

"Use technology to deliver all public services.
Technologies which teach kids how to collaborate and complete complex real world tasks should be part of the school curriculum"

"We have to be and show the world that we are a country that can compete on the world technology stage on an equal or better footing. 
e.g. I can complete credible medical trials here faster than anywhere else in the world so why aren't we known as the best place in the world for this?"

"Make sure Kiwis with a good idea to change the world get the support they need on how to run a business. 
Ensure they have a workable business model, and be financially successful so they can increase employment and bring more capital into NZ."

3_New Zealand innovators

What New Zealand company or person do you think is doing a good job of innovating in way that’s good for the world? 

Participants mention many personalities & companies considered to play a key role in fostering change and new technologies in a way that’s good for the world. Top scores go to:

Peter Beck & Rocket Lab, for disrupting the space sector, making the launch of satellites/rockets more efficient both in terms of money and time

Sir Ray Avery recognised for his professional achievements (e.g. more efficient baby incubators), as well his character and dedication to the health

Xero, for making financial accounting easier to comprehend, especially for SMEs

Air NZ was named for its fanastic customer experience

Sunfed Foods for an alternative to processed meat that is better the environment

Participants’ profile by industry
4_Smartphone dependency

How much of an issue would you say this is among your close friends and what concerns do you have?

More than half say it's an issue.

5 | It's a big issue
1 | Not an issue
No answer

Key concerns:

People are missing out on social opportunities, such as people engaging in meaningful conversations 

Children are not able to experience real life anymore and are having trouble developing social skills

Security and protection of our personal data. 

5_Doing more online

Name something you can't do online now that you wish you could.

When asked to name one thing they wish they could do online, participants predominantly wanted to simplify basic aspects of their lives. They are also looking for convenience: e.g. voting online, managing the relationships with banks and utilities, monitor health and being able to speak online with a doctor or to make an online appointment.

Participants’ profile by industry

Other wish list items:

- Virtual/ augmented reality experiences, with participants wanting to try/ test new products & services this way,

- a centralised online place for interacting with councils and public services,

- the ability to engage with other people (eg their children, overseas family, or teachers

- Better online booking or order delivery systems

Online wishlist

Comments from the crowd

I wish I could view all my doctor/health records online right now. And get online prescriptions."

"Sign up for a bank account. Always need to visit a branch with paper. Bleh."

"Manage all my interactions with health, education and government from one secure place."

"I should be able to log in to my council website to query my rates versus calling the contact centre."

"I'd like see online community forums that crowdsource experiences to solve big community issues (like OpenIDEO does)."

6_Technology impact on industry

What technologies will have the biggest impact on your industry in next 3-5 years, and why?


- Most of the technologies named go hand in hand: eg Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning and 

- Predictive consumer behaviour and data owned by companies opens new doors for building up algorithms and, thus, machine learning processes

- Supply chains, (especially in the food sector – e.g. its origin) is accelerating blockchain processes

-Consumers are looking for more and more experiences offered by the products and services they intend to buy/ already use, raising interest in theVR/ ARprocesses, since they allow them to better engage with brands

-Internet of Things is seen as facilitating, streaming and better controlling processes

Despite the above, there is still an expectation to improve basic “hygienics”, namely the existing aspects which are expected to work smoothly, but they don’t – e.g.increasing use of mobile, extending internet and mobile networks coverage, more attention given to recycling

Participants’ profile by industry
Technology impact on industry

Comments from the crowd

"Human learning by error will diminish, and therefore real learning will decline. It’s already happening.

As AI develops, the effort to problem solve will decline as big data is used to predict consumer buying patterns. This could drive buying behaviour that may not be in the consumers' best interests."

"IoT is flooding our industry with information, so much so that they don't know what to do with it all. 
Learning algorithms will become a must-have for those who wish to be competitive as they learn to optimise the use of their people and assets."

"In science the "gold standard" of experiments/testing can be laborious and  inefficient. Technology can used to give us quicker, and more reliable results.
Unfortunately the impact can be potentially  inequitable for human growth, resulting in job losses and over reliance on tech: we need to know where to draw a line with accurate results."

"Autonomy will make it easier to put idle vehicles to use - reducing the number of vehicles needed and the cost of short distance travel.
It could also potentially increase  road network efficiencies, through better driving and traffic flow patterns, thus increasing the capacity of the current infrastructure."

7_Technology impact on New Zealanders

What technology do you think will have the most positive impact on the lives of New Zealanders in the next 3-5 years?

AI, followed by electric or autonomous vehicles

- Participants expect more of the basics to be solved in the upcoming years (e.g. good coverage of internet and technology, sustainable resources, medical developments)

- Even so,artificial Intelligenceis still named most frequently for the potential to address issues in health, transport and housing. Developments in health and pharmaceuticals are also expected to extend quality of life and lifespan

- Electric and even autonomous vehicleswill grow in development and use, being more cost-efficient and sustainable alternatives

- In many parts of NZ, especially in rural areas,internetpenetration is still low, but it is expected to grow in the future both in terms of use and coverage, having an overall positive impact on people’s lives (e.g. adoption of new technologies, reducing social divide). Same for mobile coverage

Participants’ profile by industry
Technology impact on New Zealanders

Comments from the crowd

"AI will solve a raft of problems such as driverless vehicle sharing for reduced congestion, health care decision-support, and scheduling optimisation.

Blockchain will disrupt the banking and credit card industries leading to lower transaction costs for merchants and decreased fees and interest for consumers."

"In the same way telephones changed our lives to shape us into a more immediate society, AI will open the doors to a more connected society. 
Augmented reality will open up new ways of working, interacting with, and visualising the world. The challenge for New Zealand / Aotearoa society is to continue to think critically and to take best advantage of these advances."

"In rural areas connectivity which is fast and reliable will hugely improve how Kiwis work with the rest of the country and the world. You only have to see what happens when your 'internet is down' to see how it drastically affects progress. 
We are moving at a rapid speed when it comes to innovation so our reliance to continue this push will be through connectivity.

"We are heavily reliant on our exports, where we have an established reputation for producing high quality goods. 
This, combined with our large primary industries, means that connectivity, big data, and technology will all assist our primary industry to be more efficient, environmentally responsible, and more productive, while improving quality assurance internationally."

8_Using the internet to engage citizens

How effectively does your local council use the internet to engage its citizens on key issues? 

Half say their local council does not do this effectively 

Half say their local council does not use the internet effectively to engage with citizens.

5 | Very effectively
1 | Not very effectively
No answer
9_Skills shortage

Is your company affected by a technology skills shortage?

Skills shortage affecting more than half

Skills shortage affecting more than half of respondents

5 | Yes, quite a lot
1 | No, not really
No answer
10_Participants’ profile by industry

What industry do you work in?

Participants’ profile by industry