Trade NZ listening to exporters' needs: CIO

The online needs of exporters will drive changes to Trade New Zealand's electronic services, says new information chief Hans Frauenlob.

The online needs of exporters will drive changes to Trade New Zealand’s electronic services, says new information chief Hans Frauenlob.

Frauenlob, 41, says the government body intends to listen closely to the country’s exporters as it introduces new e-business products and upgrades others in the coming months.

“A balance of e-business products are due to come on stream in the coming months,” says Frauenlob. Responses and suggestions will arise as a result. “Once clients interact [with us], they will demand improvements.”

Trade NZ last year launched a $13 million e-business project to boost New Zealand exports by helping local firms develop websites and related e-commerce infrastructure, promote a range of industry sectors online, match trade inquiries with businesses and identify suitable e-marketplaces.

This has led to the recent revamping of ProjectLink, an internet service giving New Zealand builders and engineers sales leads across Australasia. In May www.emarketservices.govt.nz was launched to help local firms access electronic marketplaces, which in turn followed the launch of a directory of exporters called NZ Exporters Online.

Frauenlob says other electronic services will come online in coming months, covering other industry sectors. “The electronic channel is the most significant. Through the channel there is already a fair amount on offer to the general public — country briefs, market intelligence. Over time I expect it will be delivering more services.”

Frauenlob, who hails originally from Canada, was formally appointed to the new role last month, following the merger of the IT manager and e-business manager roles. In charge of 20 IT staff, he answers directly to Trade NZ chief executive Fran Wilde. He will also be in charge of project management, controlling Trade NZ’s internet presence and developing the ongoing e-business project.

Frauenlob joins Trade NZ from Certus Consulting. Prior to that he was at Cardinal Banking Technologies, a division of Jade, where he was project manager for ASB Bank’s internet banking system, Fastnet. He says the project — “groundbreaking” for 1997 — meant searching Europe for various technologies now accepted as mainstream, such as encryption.

Before coming to New Zealand a year earlier, Frauenlob was IS manager for the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club. While there he wrote an application to work out the pitch location of hit balls by interfacing a radar gun with a pen-based computer. His other IT jobs have been in retail, wholesale and health care.

In his new role Frauenlob will be the Trade NZ representative on the government’s E-Commerce Action Team (ECAT), but apart from the e-business rollout he feels this is a time of consolidation for his organisation — “the end of the beginning” — as it awaits customer response before further improvement.

Trade NZ has just refreshed its desktop PCs company wide for its 360 staff, half in New Zealand, the remainder scattered across 36 other countries. Data communications have also recently been upgraded globally, involving a managed private network to 37 offices in 21 countries, installed by major carrier AT&T. New online information services can now be delivered globally from centralised databases, replacing remote dial-up connections.

With AT&T managing the dedicated high-speed connections to all Trade NZ sites, Frauenlob says his IT staff can now be moved from networking issues to information management and application rollouts.

Trade NZ won’t reveal its IT budget except to say that the Microsoft-centric organisation spends in line with what can be expected for an organisation with a total budget of $70 million.

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