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Spark & NZIER to boost NZ's productivity with technology
Fri, 23rd Feb 2024

Spark, in collaboration with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), has unveiled its ambition to propel Aotearoa one technology generation ahead in order to confront New Zealand's documented productivity issues. This objective has been supported by the release of a new NZIER report, titled 'Accelerating Aotearoa businesses one technology generation forward.'

The study, which merges global research findings, economic models from NZIER, and Spark's knowledge of existing and prospective opportunities enabled by digital technology, discovered that if advanced digital technologies are embraced, industry output could surge by up to $26 billion in the next ten years. The same uplift is projected to rise GDP by as many as 2.08% per year.

"New Zealanders generate significantly less output than many other small advanced economies, despite working longer and harder comparatively as a nation," observes Spark CEO, Jolie Hodson. She identified productivity as an enduring challenge that requires urgent solutions, in light of the country's expanding, ageing, and diversifying demographic. Nevertheless, Hodson is optimistic about the potential of advanced digital technologies to help surmount these obstacles.

"The good news is that the pace of technological advancement globally is accelerating at an even faster rate, and advanced digital technologies are now reaching a level of maturity where they have the potential to solve business challenges where it wasn't possible in the past," Hodson stated, emphasising that the focus will be on how technology can help organisations boost productivity and sustainability and thus enable Aotearoa to advance a technological generation.

NZIER CEO, Jason Shoebridge, notes that their study underlines the vital role digital technology can play in transforming Aotearoa's business landscape. "We have identified in our analysis the significant benefits in adopting digital technology and applications," he said. Shoebridge stated that the report's key message is that "digital transformation is critical" to increasing New Zealand's productivity.

In order to assist businesses in accelerating a technological generation ahead, Spark is leveraging the insights from the report to inspire a suite of initiatives to be launched over the next three years. The preliminary three initiatives were unveiled today and they are designed to aid businesses in optimising advanced technologies for productivity improvement.

One of the opportunities highlighted by the 'Accelerating Aotearoa businesses one technology generation forward' report is the importance of tracking progress in national digital adoption to stimulate and focus investments in productivity enhancements. To aid businesses in determining their level of digital maturity, Spark and NZIER have developed a digital maturity spectrum and offered a series of Digital Maturity Frameworks.

Besides that, the report cited the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to elicit productivity improvements beyond just labour. As such, Spark is affirming the creation of a nationwide AI strategy and initiating a New Zealand AI for Business Mini MBA programme in 2024, with 150 sponsored places for business leaders in the country.

Lastly, the report noted that the country's research and development expenditure has consistently lagged behind the OECD average over the last 20 years, particularly in business. In response, Spark is committing $15 million to an Innovation Fund for its business and government customers in the next three years.