by Divina Paredes

Movers and shakers: Mark McCaughan of, John Taylor of Consegna & Jannat Maqbool of Wintec

Apr 18, 2018
Big DataCareersCEO

New Zealand airline software company has won the “best” innovation award at an industry event run by AGIFORS – (Airline Group of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies) in New Delhi, India.

The award was just judged by industry peers and airlines in the medium to large airline category. The conference is only one of a few in the world where airlines and various vendors meet to discuss the field of crew management.

Merlot chief executive Mark McCaughan says the award is a massive endorsement of merlot’s product. “Our solvers are designed using a mathematical algorithm which provides airlines with the most optimal solution to scheduling aircraft and crew.” CEO Mark McCaughan

“In a world where airlines are constantly driven by both minimising their costs and maximising utilisation of their aircraft and staff, our optimisation services provide a truly meaningful return on investment,” says McCaughan, in a statement. says it now works with more than 50 international airlines.

No caption

Kiwi company Consegna has been recognised as the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ANZ Rising Star Partner of the year.

This award is given to the most promising consulting partner of AWS for demonstrating great client success in a relatively short amount of time.

In conjunction with the award, Consegna also announced that they have become the first New Zealand based AWS Advanced Consulting Partner to be approved as an AWS Managed Service (AMS) reseller, and have also achieved AWS Service Delivery accreditation for Windows on AWS.

AMS from AWS is built around ITIL best practices and provides managed service providers with the tooling and automation to increase efficiency while reducing operational overheads and risks.

John Taylor – Managing Director and Head of Cloud Transformation, Consegna

“I believe this is a game changer for the cloud market,” says Consegna managing director John Taylor. “Through AMS we can quickly reduce operational costs, and it allows our clients to focus their attention towards new opportunities and driving new business growth.”

Dr Janet Toland (right), head of the school of information management, and Dr Allan Sylvester (left), deputy head the school of information management at Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Janet Toland is the new head of school of information management at the Victoria University of Wellington, and Dr Allan Sylvester has been appointed deputy head of school.

Dr Toland is an expert in the areas of sustainable information systems and the history of ICT. She brings a global perspective, having served on the faculties at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (UK), Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Tonota College of Education (Botswana), and at the University of the South Pacific (Fiji).

Dr Sylvester is an expert in the areas of telecommunications policy, e-learning, and public sector IT. For the last five years he has served as the undergraduate and honours/master of commerce programme director for the school of information management.

Propd founders Jono Coates, Loren Burnett, Ryan O’Hara, and Tom Stanley

Four Christchurch residents have launched an online application that aims to take the pain out of renting for tenants and landlords – and makes the process safer for everyone, too.

Propd allows potential tenants to apply for properties via the site, uploading all the necessary paperwork as well as their biography. Landlords are then able to screen potential tenants and develop a shortlist almost immediately – meaning no more overcrowded flat viewings.

The process also ensures there is a legally binding paper trail from first contact, as well as ensuring all communication between landlord and tenant goes via the app – that means a record of all requests for repairs and inspections.

Propd’s operations lead, Loren Burnett, says the idea was born after difficulties with the founders’ own flatting experiences. “From being tenants and landlords we just thought the whole process was too hard, unnecessarily hard – and didn’t have to be that way.”

The other founders, university friends Tom Stanley, Ryan O’Hara and Jono Coates, spent 18-months testing and building the site.

Development lead and renter, O’Hara, who built the Propd site, says the group hoped Propd would streamline the rental process in New Zealand. “Propd will update landlords and tenants on all the new law changes under the Healthy Homes Act: What action landlords need to take, and what changes tenants are entitled to, and when.”

O’Hara says Propd is built using some of the latest technologies that power big sites such as Facebook and Airbnb. “Taking inspiration from the evolution of these leading tech companies, we have hosted workshops, carried out beta testing, and refined Propd to the point where it is easy to use, intuitive and a great user experience.”

No caption

Brett O’Riley joins Tata Consultancy Services as advisory chair for the company’s New Zealand operations. TCS is India’s largest services company and has announced its intention to expand its New Zealand operations, and current clients include many of the NZX Top 20.

O’Riley was most recently chief executive of Auckland’s economic growth agency ATEED for five years, and was previously deputy chief executive, business, innovation and investments, for the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and founding chief executive of NZTech, which represents New Zealand’s leading technology companies.

“Digital technology and its uses are growing at an exponential rate,” says Riley.

“The advanced work that TCS is doing in fields of robotics, cloud computing, big data and cybersecurity is breathtaking. We have a Silicon Valley in our own hemisphere and we need to work much more closely with it. I’m excited by the possibilities that TCS presents to continue to drive New Zealand’s own global leadership in the fields of technology, research and industry innovation.”

No caption

More than 90 people attended the official launch of Techweek ’18 Waikato, co-hosted by Waikato Innovation Park and Wintec. Events will be held from May 19-27 around the Waikato region, as part of the established nationwide Techweek festival.

The launch, at Wintec’s The Atrium in central Hamilton, was timed for international ‘Internet of Things (IoT) Day’ – a worldwide initiative started by the IoT Council in 2010 as an opportunity to have conversations and generate discussion on IoT.

IoT refers to the connectivity of things, including devices, appliances and machinery, and how data can be collected, analysed and shared to solve problems, drive innovation and enhance everyday life.

Techweek’18 Waikato’s featured event is an IoT tour across the Waikato, which includes visits to the towns of Raglan and Paeroa. Participants will insights from tech-led businesses using IoT into what the future could look like for primary care, nutrition, sport science and social care. They will also learn how IoT is advancing primary industries and how local smart cities initiatives are aiding urban development.

Craig Purcell, business growth manager at Waikato Innovation Park, at the launch of Techweek’18 Waikato

“We want to ensure the programme will be sustainable, encourage new initiatives and add value to existing efforts to build capacity in the technology sector and retain talent skills in the region,” says Jannat Maqbool, Techweek’18 Waikato project coordinator, and principal advisor at Ecosystm.

A Young Innovators Challenge was also launched, which encourages Waikato children aged three to 18 to design or create an idea that is “good for the world”. The challenge supports the development of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) skills.

Other events running during Techweek ’18 Waikato include the CultivateIT Emerging Technology Expo and a Maori Tech Showcase, as well as opportunities to hear about innovation in science and engineering, the future of work and education, applications of data and analytics, and to learn how blockchain technology can add value to products and services.

Ben Reid

New Zealand AI Forum executive director Ben Reid says a national study to be released next month has found that artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to bring billions of dollars of economic growth through labour efficiencies alone by 2035.

AI and automation will free people up to focus on more complex, higher-value tasks in their jobs, says Reid, on the findings of the research commissioned by the AI Forum NZ.

The research analysed more than 50 international papers on the potential impacts of AI and has found that AI-driven job displacement will have a relatively modest influence overall.

“The research also identified over 120 New Zealand organisation actively involved in AI projects with some of the most visible being world leading digital avatars from Soul Machines and FaceMe or the Cacophony Project, using AI to help make New Zealand predator free,” says Reid, in a statement.

He says Kiwis should not expect AI to be different to any other technology-driven change in recent times.

“To put it into perspective, according to data from Statistics New Zealand, thousands of jobs are churned each year due to constant changes in work tasks and roles. Every year businesses change the number and type of jobs they need in order to be successful. When jobs are no longer needed by firms, workers lose their jobs and most find other work suited to their capabilities or retrain.

The worst case scenario would only represent up to 10 percent of the total natural job churn over the next 40 years. “It will be more about changes to jobs as automation alters the tasks within a job and the skills needed, rather than the entire job being lost. “These job changes occur as the technology allows more productive solutions to enter the market. New Zealand’s economic growth is predicted to soar if we can embrace AI.”

The AkzoNobel team at the Race Village in Auckland’s viaduct.

SAP is providing biometric sensors for AkzoNobel crew members during the 2017–18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

AkzoNobel enlisted SAP to help team AkzoNobel better prepare for the race and ensure sailors are healthy and perform at their best levels. Using the edge computing for the Internet of Things (IoT) provided by the SAP Leonardo IoT Edge technology, the project enables team AkzoNobel to track the sailors’ fitness levels and degree of exhaustion during racing, so that they can optimise their performance based on the data collected. This is the first time this system is being used in professional ocean sailing.

No caption

AkzoNobel is owned and managed by leading global paints and coatings company AkzoNobel and led by Dutch skipper Simeon Tienpont – a double America’s Cup winner and two-time Volvo Ocean Race competitor.

No caption