New Zealand’s tech exports – A 2020 success story

Cat Mules

Cat Mules

We've come a long way. With technology, we can go further.

New Zealand exporting began way back in the 1800s, when Māori sold grains and starch to the emerging New South Wales colony. Since then technology, based in data and science, has added value to New Zealand’s traditional land-based industries. From the world’s first commercial bungy and single-person aircraft, we’ve branched out with new realms of ICT, High-Tech Manufacturing and Biotechnology some of our most profitable areas. Now, export technology is growing strongly, even in the face of tough global market headwinds – rising by 10.6% in 2020.

Recent global events have changed the way we communicate, connect and do business with one another. Once upon a time, a digital project with an overseas partner would have been considered too cumbersome, but with 2020’s rapid digital transformation, international expansion is now a reality rather than a pipe dream.

Here are some key points you’ll want to know about the growth of tech sector exports.

It has never been easier to take part

Our connecting with the world has never before been easier, yet we need to be known for more than just beautiful scenery, sheep and entertainment factor. To fully harness the opportunities, we call on tech leaders to continue to apply our natural resourcefulness  to global problems.

Innovators are working hard to show New Zealand’s leadership potential, with impressive results. From countering cashflow challenges with flexibility specific to context, as for a US smart transit portal and app, to improving the productivity and prosperity of dairy famers by with wider access to new data sets such as Livestock Improvement Corporation.

The tech sector is the foundation for New Zealand’s transition into a digital nation, from the Cloud infrastructure that underlies connectivity, to our local and international innovations.

… But its value is underestimated

Looking at our national income, the technology sector’s earnings has speedily increased and it now holds a viable position as one of the country’s largest export contributors.

Even though the value of technology exports is far reaching – yet with much of its value added not measured, and the people working in tech, missed. Technology is not like traditional export industries like dairy and forestry. It’s impossible to gauge a definite number, and with technology exports being often services via offshore subsidiaries, sales are unclear.

Alongside the (often hidden) jobs and value created by tech, its exports make it a significant contributor to our economy. NZTech points out the force of tech exports in diversifying the New Zealand economy.

Questions of tech exports

To truly drive tech export outcomes, you need to be ready. Formulate your business plan by ticking off the questions below:

– Commit

To develop a market, you’ll need to factor in time, money and resource costs. You’ll need to be committed to building an understanding of the marketand visit key stakeholders routinely to build relationships

– Know your product or service

Every product or service has its own marketing advantages and opportunities for different markets. Understand how.

– Ready your production

Your product or service must be adequately based in research and development. Whichever market context you’re targeting, think about your production capacity to meet market demands. Don’t overlook the hidden costs – increased management overheads, different expectations about manufacturing schedules, and quality and cost issues.

– Know the market context

Markets are by their nature unpredictable – and even more so foreign ones, with which you might not be familiar. Develop an understanding of the market you’re focussing on by conducting desk research, field research and/or consulting with external agencies that can offer reliable advice or carry out research on your behalf.

– Do your due diligence

Validate the potential gains and investment with solid figures. This will require financial research, as well as on-the-ground research – talking to the people who know the market best.

– Ready your management

The one thing managers will have to be willing to give is time, and lots of it. Ideally, managers will also have familiarity with the export market or at least a willingness to build an understanding of the market and any direct competitors in that arena. 

– Ready your funding

Developing a market requires investment without guaranteed return. New Zealand Trade and Enterprises funding considerations include research, flights, accommodation, advertising and sales promotion, trade fairs, and training.

Market divergences in language and culture will arise. To protect your funds, prioritise your investment in relationship building and intellectual property protection.

There now seem to be one of two questions at hand: what technology solution are you creating? Or, how will you use technology to drive your growth?

Let shared experiences and stories of tech export success from your peers guide you.

Cat Mules

Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

Enlighten Designs

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2020 Microsoft NZ Country Partner of the Year Award winner! Let's keep it simple. We create beautiful, user friendly digital solutions. Enlighten Designs was founded on a passion for people and to deliver agile, human-centred technology solutions from the shores of New Zealand to the rest of the world.

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