We can grow the ICT sector and make it inclusive at the same time\nBefore the yearend, New Zealand will have a framework for appointing a national chief technology officer (CTO).\nClare Curran, minister for government digital services, broadcasting, communications and digital media, says the CTO appointment will be one of the priorities of her role in the 100 days following the election.\n\u201cThe feedback from industry and community is we need this,\u201d she tells CIO New Zealand. \u201cWe are doing it in science, we can do it in technology as well.\u201d\nCurran reveals she has already sought advice on how the CTO position can be created, its reporting functions and chief objectives, in her keynote at the 2017 NetHui.\nWe will \u201clay the groundwork for establishing the position of the chief technology officer for New Zealand with responsibility for preparing and overseeing a national digital architecture or roadmap for the next five to 10 years,\u201d she told the conference delegates.\nThe focus of this role will include fiber optic capabilities; 5G, 6G, 7G and beyond, mobile technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, gaming and Internet of Things.\nGraeme Muller, CEO, NZTech\nHaving someone, or a small group, tasked with looking to the future and helping New Zealand become an effective and fair digital nation is critical\nShe says her other priorities are creating the blueprint for digital inclusion, a framework for establishing RNZ as the centrepiece for full non-commercial public media services for all Kiwis; establishing a process of proactive release of government information and a framework for strengthening citizens' rights in the digital environment.\nShe plans to convene advisory groups to work with leading figures in each area from inside government, industry, Maoridom, local government, NGOs and community groups. \nTheir brief is to build a consensus view of the current state of the sector and scenarios for the future, and what would be required from government to achieve the latter.\n\u201cWe can grow the ICT sector and make it inclusive at the same time,\u201d she says. \u201cWe don\u2019t need to and can\u2019t afford to exclude anyone from the benefits of digital connectivity.\u201d\nShe says addressing the digital divide is a priority for the government. The Otago University Social Deprivation Index has identified a lack of internet access at home, as the highest weighted factor affecting social deprivation for working age New Zealanders. \n\u201cOur position is New Zealanders must have access to technology as a right, regardless of income or geography.\n\u201cWe are looking to strike a balance between extremes of \u2018let the market prevail\u2019 and \u2018let the government do everything.\u2019\u201d\nWhat no one disputes is the digital economy is growing rapidly and even more importantly, ICT tools underpin the whole of the economy, she says.\nDavid Kennedy, chair, NZTechLeaders\nChange is occurring at an unprecedented rate and we need to create a strategy that addresses the needs of future Kiwi families\n\u201cIf we aren\u2019t using it effectively, the whole economy suffers. It is up to industry and government working together to improve deployment of technology and increase productivity, create new jobs and reskill old ones, to make New Zealand more competitive against global technology multinationals in our domestic market.\u201d\nShe says the coalition government is committed to ICT being the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025.\n\u201cI think we can do it earlier than that,\u201d she says.\nShe believes improved engagement and genuine collaboration between government and industry, community groups and NGOs are important.\n\u201cNew Zealand is much too small to have government and industry working on separate objectives,\u201d she says. \u201cWe need a process of co-design where we can deliver on an agreed view on two basic questions: What is already being done, what is it that government can do to help?\u201d\nRunning a government is different than building a startup, she says. But there are benefits from modern design thinking such as collaboration, focus on prototyping and speed that can be used in these discussions.\n\u201cThere are four million untapped collaborators in our society,\u201d she says. \nJennifer Byrne, Chief Technology Officer of Global Industry for Microsoft\nThis role ought to focus on both the opportunities and challenges of technology: economic growth as well as job displacement\nA welcome move \nBusiness technology leaders have reacted positively to the announcement by Curran, that the appointment of a national chief technology officer will be one of her top priorities. \nNZTech CEO Graeme Muller says the organisation is looking forward to doing whatever it can to help the Minister get the structure and role in place sooner rather than later.\n\u201cThere are a variety of opinions about what such a role should do and what structure it should sit in,\u201d says Muller.\n\u201cFor example, should it be a government department or a public-private partnership?\n\u201cBut what is clear is that having someone, or a small group, tasked with looking to the future and helping New Zealand become an effective and fair digital nation is critical.\u201d\nMuller says NZTech has been working with the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on a summit in February, 2018. The aim is to bring together some of the leading digital countries with New Zealand\u2019s business, social and government leaders, to develop a vision for a truly digital nation by 2030.\n\u201cThis will be an excellent opportunity for a CTO to connect with world leaders in this space and engage with leaders from across New Zealand to identify priorities for a CTO office as it develops a national digital roadmap,\u201d says Muller.\n\u201cThe appointment of a government CTO is a great idea,\u201d says David Kennedy, chair of NZTechLeaders.\n\u201cChange is occurring at an unprecedented rate and we need to create a strategy that addresses the needs of future Kiwi families.\u201d\nNZTechLeaders was formed early this year by a group of technology, digital and ICT focused-executives from leading organisations to help define, communicate and promote initiatives around the use of technology.\nHe says the advisory group recently met to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence and robotic automation. (Click here for a link to the TechLeaders Executive Discussion Paper on Industry, education and the workplace of tomorrow)\n\u201cWe welcome the opportunity to work with the government CTO on these issues and other digital and technology initiatives,\u201d says Kennedy, who is also the CIO at Transaction Services Group.\nNZTechLeaders recommendations include helping the public understand automation by creating and promoting information directed at families, to provide context on the future to help them prepare. This will reduce fear inducing messaging about people losing their jobs and \u2018robots taking over\u2019.\nThe group is also recommending the creation of a website where an existing job role is entered, for information on how likely it is to be automated. A similar initiative has been devised by the BBC in the United Kingdom.\nThey also cite the need for industry to develop ways to promote the digital technology curricula and better engage industry and its digital employees in programmes to help support teachers and students. This could include mentoring, competitions and work experience.\nNo caption\nThere are four million untapped collaborators in our societyMinister Clare Curran\nInternational perspective\nThe national CTO role should \u201cmaintain a global view with respect to the opportunities that New Zealand can capitalise upon as a technologically progressive nation,\u201d says Jennifer Byrne, chief technology officer of global industry for Microsoft.\n\u201cPlanning for economic growth must address education in a traditional sense, but also in non-traditional formats in order to address the potentially disruptive effects it may have on the workforce of the future,\u201d says Byrne.\n\u201cIn other words, this role ought to focus on both the opportunities and challenges of technology: economic growth as well as job displacement. \n\u201cFinally, strict adherence to the security and privacy needs of both New Zealanders, as well as consumers of technology from New Zealand will be a fundamental requirement for ensuring not only continuous adoption of technology, but that positive societal outcomes are also achieved.\n\u201cThere are likely several measures that would be required in order to ensure neutrality over time, not the least of which would be a thoughtful approach to the level of influence of the CTO and the supporting organisational structure for this role,\u201d says Byrne, who was recently in New Zealand.\n\u201cQuite often CTOs act as a bridge between functions that are primarily, or only, IT in nature, and business or other non-IT functions.\n\u201cThat is in fact the way in which this role is often able to think strategically, because technology for its own sake cannot be guaranteed to provide a positive and meaningful outcome.\n\u201cYet, without a deep understanding of technology, there is a real danger that implementation plans for broad societal outcomes as defined throughout other Ministries are either not structured correctly or miss opportunities that technology could realise.\n\u201cIn general, the scope of this role should include a primary focus on outcomes and an adherence to a set of principles and practices, which are transparent and reflect the values of New Zealand government and society.\u201d\nShe believes though a solution to address the question of areas to invest in terms of e-government, education and technology can't be successfully targeted within a single role.\n\u201cA better approach may be to accept and acknowledge bias and address it through a governance structure that requires input from many different and diverse stakeholders; and with as much transparency in both principles and practices as is possible."\nGrowing the technology sector, meanwhile, requires continuous, sustained engagement and collaboration across many sectors: education, business, local government, as well as tax and other regulatory bodies, she says.\n\u201cFor New Zealand, it is important to be thoughtful about its role in the broader regional and global economies, such that growth is tuned to more than just local demand.\u201d\n\nClare Curran with Vivian Chandra at the OMG Tech workshop at NetHui\n\n\nSend news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter:@divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nJoin us on Facebook.