New Zealand needs to do more to attract major international sporting events to improve Kiwi companies’ international competitive advantage, says Origin IT CEO Michael Russell.
Origin IT won a million dollar plus tender to provide information technology services for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015 tournament around New Zealand which wrapped up on 21 June.
Charged with providing IT communications and tech support in seven venues throughout the event, Russell says the Auckland-headquartered company experienced a significant boost in revenue and was able to offer local employment opportunities as a result of the contract.
However, he believes the potential learning value of such events to Kiwi businesses isn’t fully realised by government agencies tasked with pitching New Zealand as an event location.
“There is a need to make our country more attractive to these massive events in terms of our infrastructure, and for the government to partner with New Zealand businesses to offer a world class experience here,” he says.
“New Zealand needs to look beyond the pure financial outcomes of a specific event to recognise the inherent benefits in the learning and experience and that can be made from hosting these fixtures on our home soil.”
“Events like these demand international standards of service from local companies, and while it can be a challenge to meet those benchmarks, it’s one we should be embracing as it places New Zealand on an equal footing with globally recognised hosts of major events.
“As such, these events should not be seen as discrete sporting fixtures, but as opportunities for us to learn from some of the world’s best tournament promoters and showcase the New Zealand brand on the international stage.”
The experience gained by companies such as Origin will also help other local brands as they expand overseas, according to Russell.
“Origin has a growing number of clients which are setting up in new markets offshore,” he adds.
“We take the experience gained from projects such as the U-20 tournament, and apply the international learnings to our own systems and processes to help our customers move more seamlessly into foreign markets.”
Russell says over 2000 hours went into the U-20 tournament by Origin from the tender pitch through to the end of the tournament, with 10 new staff and contractors employed as a direct result.
The fast-growing company provided planning and project management services; delivery and installation services; IT communications, cabling, wifi, power, backup, hardware and wireless supply; onsite support services at stadiums around New Zealand, and remote helpdesk support for all technology services throughout the event.
“An estimated 3000m of additional cabling was installed in seven stadiums purely for this tournament, and Origin installed and managed 45,000 square inches of additional screens for press and conference areas,” Russell says.
“It was an incredibly exciting project for our team to work on, and financially it provided the business with a cash injection to help our growth, build our resources and increase our capability for the future.
“It was also a great draw card for local and international talent to get to work on a project like this, especially in the IT industry which is facing a skills shortage in New Zealand.”
Tenders for the tournament in numerous areas including catering, broadcasting, transport and accommodation were all pitched for by Kiwi businesses, which provided for the approximately 800-strong contingent of players and support staff who attended the competition.
In total 52 matches were played throughout the tournament in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, with a worldwide television audience of more than 170-200 million people in more than 100 countries.