Reseller News Roundtable: Magnifying mobility in New Zealand, how is the Kiwi workplace changing?
- 07 April, 2016 16:13
At Ostro Brasserie & Bar in Auckland, Reseller News debated the future of mobility in New Zealand, outlining the key channel plays for 2016 in association with Dell, HP Inc, Microsoft and VMware and key channel partners.
As mobility continues its march into the enterprise boardroom, disrupting key industries along the way, New Zealand businesses are re-evaluating and re-architecting strategies to keep pace with the changing demands of the workplace.
Mirroring global trends, mobility is permeating the country’s core sectors up and down the land, pervasive in its reach and unpredictable in its impact.
Whether it be devices or applications, organisations are turning to trusted channel partners to mobilise internal operations and customer interactions, as resellers seek new ways to maximise the growing trend of mobility.
But as data becomes the lifeblood of today’s business, and new devices flood the market, enterprise mobility continues to gain greater interpretation.
Such ambiguity leaves the market open to definition, representing channel opportunities and challenges along the way.
“If you look at mobility from an end-user perspective, it’s driven by need,” says Grant Hopkins, Managing Director, HP New Zealand. “My belief is that inherently speaking, organisations are gaining benefits from mobility within the organisation, but also outside of the premise.
“Look at the office work environment of today in New Zealand, it’s more fluid because of the different working styles of Kiwis, and you need technology to support this change.”
The office of the future, to a degree, is a redundant term. Stemmed by the rising tide of technological advances, Hopkins believes the modern workplace can now accommodate the needs of users. In essence; “technology has caught up”.
“Take a step back five or ten years ago,” Hopkins observes. “The same needs existed but the technology and the networks didn’t. The demand has always been there and now the technology is no longer constrained.”
Consequently, mobility continues to climb the CIO priority ladder as businesses examine new ways to boost productivity of employees, irrespective of size or sector.
“Every business has mobility as part of their strategy,” says Brent Kendrick, Director Small Midmarket Solutions & Partner Group, Microsoft. “If you think about digital transformation, then mobility plays a key part in that equation for New Zealand businesses, are we’re this conversation already take shape.
“But it’s not about a single device, it’s about having access to information on that device.”
Citing the rise of the Internet of Things, coupled with improved internet access through the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative, Kendrick believes that as Kiwis become better connected, organisations are reassessing mobility approaches.
“Customers are asking, do I sit and wait to be disrupted or do I lead and disrupt the market?” Kendrick adds.
Echoed by Jeff Morris, General Manager of End-User Computing, Dell Australia and New Zealand, the conversation continues to change with market demands, with the onus on partners to dig deeper when uncovering core mobility strategies.
“Technology has absolutely caught up with demand,” Morris agrees. “But now it’s worth asking how customers define mobility because it’s around mobilising the information rather than focusing on the endpoint.
“Mobility is the ability to provide access to applications on a multitude of devices, which moves away from a device conversation.”
Rather than “assuming a device conversation, Morris argues that partners must reflect the changing market and enter into negotiations with an open mind and a flexible approach.
“I don’t assume but I’ll automatically ask what do you mean by mobility and what are you trying to achieve?” Morris adds.
“Where are you today and where would you like to be? From that partners can better tailor solutions to the needs of the business.”
For Andrew Fox, Director of Business Mobility, VMware, the conversation depends on who is in the room, and crucially, “that’s part of the challenge” for partners.
“Partners must take a step back and understand that mobile is the other side of the coin from what is the real revolution in the industry, which is based around cloud,” he adds.
Citing the “uberisation of everything”, Fox believes every industry across New Zealand is undergoing a “fundamental shift” around mobile, as the rise of millennials impact business decisions from top to bottom.
During the past decade, Kiwi Baby Boomers have taken a back seat in business, with millennials rising through the company ranks to command a powerful position in terms of influence and behaviours.
Statistics New Zealand reports that millennials now make up the single largest age group in the New Zealand labour force, a wave of change that is currently triggering a refreshed approach to mobility from business leaders.
“Millennials turn up at work, they bring their own device and they simply have an expectation around mobility,” adds John Drayton, Country Manager, VMware New Zealand. “In fact, I argue that millennials have no concept of the term mobility because it isn’t a word they subscribe to.
“The new generation are used to having any device, anytime, anywhere and this is changing the dynamics of the workplace and the impact on mobility strategies.
“We’re having conversations with customers and partners around educating the market and understanding that as New Zealand moves forward, the devices consumed today will be very different to the devices consumed within five years time.”
Delving deeper, Hopkins maintains the belief that the greater expectation of connectivity and mobility is driving an uptake in hardware offerings and use cases, posing new challenges for Kiwi businesses.
“The trick for businesses is based around assessing mobility from a security and support point of view as well as data ownership,” he adds.
“Kiwis are looking for smaller form factors, better battery life and improved security from a hardware perspective, which is impacting local industries in different ways.
“For HP, it could be a workstation in the field for a film industry and within that environment, this brings a need for great display and great processing power.
“But in terms of mobility, this differs from perhaps the needs of a doctor in the hospital so yes, the conversation and needs vary.”
Speaking as Country Manager of Dell New Zealand, James Arnold acknowledges that in terms of mobility, New Zealand is a mature market following a mature model, but accepts traction varies depending on industry.
“In New Zealand farming and mining needs are huge in terms of mobile capability,” Arnold adds. “And in echoing Grant’s comments, technology has absolutely caught up with the needs of Kiwis in that sense.
“I remember the day we received the first wireless transmitter in the Dell office around 1998, with the message of always being connected and always on mobility. But we didn’t reach that goal until the late 2000s so in that regard technology took a long time to catch up, and only truly progressed when 4G hit the market.”
Focusing on the education sector specifically, Arnold cites the work of the New Zealand Government in fostering a digital environment for the next generation, as Kiwi schools utilise digital technologies for teaching and learning.
“We have new learning environments within New Zealand and these classrooms require that mobile capability,” Arnold adds. “The children of today are working and collaborating in ways different than a decade ago, and that’s having an impact on the future of mobility.”
As connected classrooms become the norm across the country, the partner power play also evolves in parallel, with education specialists Cyclone Computing reaping the rewards from an upward trend across the wider education sector.
“Education is huge for us in terms of mobility,” says Noel Jack, Director, Cyclone Computers. “On the one hand it’s an easy discussion to have because of the flexibility it provides, but the flip side challenges remain.
“While mobility is a key strategy, the tertiary sector in particular faces an ongoing problem in terms of how they manage mobility across the campus. They are all trying to find the holy grail in terms of finding a system that fits all but so far, that doesn’t exist.”
As specialists in providing services and support for New Zealand All of Government agencies, tertiary institutions, schools and commercial organisations, Jack says most IT departments - irrespective of sector - remain constrained by budget cuts and unpredictable Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) programs.
“BYOD remains a concern across the board,” he adds. “And the key is how do businesses manage the need for users to bring their personal devices into the corporate world.
“As a reseller, we made the conscious decision 12 months ago to shift our sales focus and change the conversation, asking questions of our customer in terms of a mobility strategy.
“Yes businesses have a strategy, but it’s an evolving one and one the partner needs to understand to ensure the delivery of better business outcomes.”
Specific verticals aside, Kendrick believes the role of partners stems from the ability to uncover the lines of business applications than can help accelerate the widespread of adoption of mobility.
But perhaps crucially, Kendrick acknowledges that in today’s new digital age, mobility has become an end-user conversation, changing the sales dynamics for the channel as a result.
“Mobility impacts every single person,” adds Arnold, in agreement with Kendrick. “Unlike data storage as an example, mobility is front line and centre of the conversation, this is up top and everyone had an opinion on it.
“Today, users have a bigger voice on mobility compared to any other aspect of IT, which by definition is driving how companies approach the issue, and consequently, how the channel reacts.”
With technology framed within the experiences of the individual, Max Davies, Managing Director, Elite Business Systems believes the role of the IT reseller has changed in tandem, offering different insights from different parts of the country.
“We work with over 800 organisations across Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga and to our customers, they define mobility as a mobile phone,” he says. “People just want their devices to work, it’s that simple but from our perspective, we believe our role is to demonstrate how mobility can better impact businesses, in terms of improved productivity and collaboration.
“But the education isn’t there yet in this respect, and as an IT reseller, we’re focusing on this aspect of the market.”
Following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011, disaster recovery naturally become a top priority for business leaders across the region, but a few years later, Davies says “businesses still didn’t want to spend the money”.
The example highlights an on going trend across New Zealand for Davies, who believes customers have “short memories” when it comes to wants and needs, creating a new role for the mobility focused reseller, in the form of the trusted advisor.
“But we need help from the vendor to take the conversation to the next level,” he adds.
“Partners are selling to different people now,” adds Drayton, taking Davies’ comments further. “I look back at conversations we’ve had and to be truthful, some have been utter wastes of time because we haven’t been talking mobility to the right people.
“The key is to identify who within the organisation has the desire to drive innovation and it’s a challenge for both vendors and partners. It’s a tough dynamic and I would argue that nobody has a true handle on it as yet.”
With over 25 years' history of contributing to the success of many businesses across the North Island, Davies acknowledges that change is underway for customers and partners, triggering a change of tact in terms of sales delivery.
“Customers only want to spend so much money but we’ve changed our model,” he adds. “We’re no longer just sales people who take the money, we are strategically working with our customers.
“We’re operating in an industry where the customer can know more than us. Mobility brings opportunities but also another mountain of problems so the onus is on the partner to go out and talk to the market about being disruptive and challenging the status quo.
“The old hands used to build business of relationship based sales, but now that’s a challenge.”
Operating through a single lens different to the new generation, Fox believes those building the modern day business “don’t care about where the office resides, in fact, none of that nonsense exists anymore.”
With increased demand and expectations from customers, mobile technology can help alleviate many common customer complaints, but as Hopkins explains, the criteria for change differs.
“Today, it’s all about service,” he says. “Does the image run across the range? Is it supported? Is it secure? Everything is being reinvented and that’s changing what customers want and need from mobility.”
As the mobility landscape changes at speed, the channel is chasing in tow, highlighting the ongoing need for vendors to ensure partners keep pace.
With the mobility market assessed, please click here for part 2 of the discussion, focusing specifically on reseller enablement and the key partner opportunities mobility brings for the channel.