Simpson says buy NZ-made

In the eyes of the Computer Society, Sir Gil Simpson is not just the most important contributor to New Zealand computing of the past 15 years.

In the eyes of the Computer Society, Sir Gil Simpson is not just the most important contributor to New Zealand computing of the past 15 years. Last year it recognised Simpson, a society fellow and the founder of Christchurch-based software developer Aoraki, as the most significant contributor to IT for the century.

What Simpson would rather see, though, is recognition by New Zealand IT buyers that locally developed products are good enough for them to use.

“New Zealand is a tough market to crack,” says Simpson. To illustrate the point, he says when the company launches a health sector application in the next 12 months or so it will do so in Australia, where its uptake is stronger than New Zealand.

“New Zealanders are conservative buyers of technology,” Simpson says. Consequently, he says Aoraki’s Jade object-oriented development language and database is looked at as “an alternative” to mainstream applications.

“We always hear the objection that it’s not mainstream.”

He looks forward to the day when the underlying technology ceases to matter; if Aoraki’s application happens to be written in “Fongl Mongl 5”, it’ll still be bought on its merits. To combat buyer nervousness, Aoraki looks for “foundation partners” as early adopters of its software, rather than relying on consultants to do the selling for it.

“Consultants tend to sell the same products — SAP, etc — worldwide,” says Simpson. The customer-partners Aoraki prefers to work with earn its appreciation, and get a say in application development.

“They get a good system out of it and we win because we get critical mass.”

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