In the latest development in the long running debacle surrounding the government's attempts to appoint a chief technology officer, the head of NZTech has suggested the IT industry should create a CTO role, and find a suitable candidate, independent of the government.
NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller said NZTech now comprised 21 technology communities with more than 800 member organisations between them: tech firms, startups and high-tech manufacturers, universities, government agencies and large corporations such as banks, insurance companies, agri-businesses and an airline.
“Many are already starting work on national strategies," Mueller said. "The New Zealand AI Forum has more than 100 people voluntarily helping drive working groups, including the development of a national artificial intelligence strategy. Let’s develop our own Ministry of the Future and collectively start developing a national digital/tech strategy for New Zealand."
Muller said he would put a plan to NZTech's strategy and planning day on 20 September to bring together all those who had applied for the CTO role (in its initial recruitment round the government deemed none of the applicants to be suitable).
Mueller said NZTech had supported the creation of the CTO role back in 2014. “During the 2014 NZTech annual meeting panel discussion with MPs, the idea of a CTO or tech advisor for the government was first muted by [Xero founder] Rod Drury. Candace Kinser, the chief executive of NZTech at the time, picked this idea up and developed it into a core pillar of NZTech’s 2014 technology policy platforms.
“The recommendation was for the creation of a chief technology advisor reporting directly to the prime minister to provide advice on the strategic use of technology across government and throughout society."
Then, in early 2017 NZTech, IT professionals and InternetNZ brought together a collective of 20 leading technology groups to develop a tech manifesto for the 2017 election.
“The call was put out for a Ministry of the Future, a pseudo-agency bringing government and the private sector together, led by a chief technology advisor, focused on positioning New Zealand and all Government agencies and society to take best advantage of a technologically enabled future," Mueller said.