Tag Archives: NZ

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Transforming Government

Catching up with some reading today, I read Mark Toomey’s Infonomics Newsletter for December 2009.

The major focus of this newsletter is on ‘Transforming Government’. Mark is referring tothe recent Government 2.0 report to the Australian Government and the earlier Gershon Report.

As Mark says in his introductory comments the Government 2.0 report :-

explores the prospective use of Internet technology to transform the interaction between citizens and government, and the use of government information. In essence, it’s a discussion of Value Chain Integration in a government context.

Mark’s comments on the report and related issues such as the Australian National Broadband Network and Enterprise Architecture are worth reading. When one looks back a week to John Key’s speech to Parliament last week they resonate still more strongly.In that speech Key noted that many agencies would have no new money for several years. Therefore, it would seem that looking at the gains to be made from a more focussed use of ICT, coupled with taking advantage of the proposed fibre roll-out  makes a lot of sense, especially if agencies look at a greater use of self service and related techniques.

A useful start might be if the Key government undertook a similar intiative to that of Australia and looked at how ICT could be used to assist in the Transformation of Government.

A look at healthcare

Years ago when I first came to live in NZ I did a considerable amount of work in the health sector. I have retained an interest both as an observer and as an occasional consumer of services.

Therefore I found  this article by Atul Gawande at The New Yorker, very interesting.

The article begins:-

It is spring in McAllen, Texas. The morning sun is warm. The streets are lined with palm trees and pickup trucks. McAllen is in Hidalgo County, which has the lowest household income in the country, but it’s a border town, and a thriving foreign-trade zone has kept the unemployment rate below ten per cent. McAllen calls itself the Square Dance Capital of the World. “Lonesome Dove” was set around here.

McAllen has another distinction, too: it is one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami—which has much higher labor and living costs—spends more per person on health care. In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average. The income per capita is twelve thousand dollars. In other words, Medicare spends three thousand dollars more per person here than the average person earns.

That’s right US$3000 more than the average local earnings.

This article paints a picture of costs and health care that is grimly fascinating, though disturbing.

Spending on doctors, hospitals, drugs, and the like now consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn. The financial burden has damaged the global competitiveness of American businesses and bankrupted millions of families, even those with insurance.

Simply unbelievable.

The author examines why there are the differences. Part of the answer comes down to values. Part to governance.

But I would suggest that we should not be complacent here in NZ. A very large percentage of the NZ Government’s tax take goes on Vote Health, plus spending by ACC, health insurers and part payments by individuals to doctors and pharamcies. Most people would be surprised at how large the NZ spend is, especially in percentage terms.

This raises the question of whether there are lessons to be learned from organizations like the Mayo Clinic,discussed in the article. After all Vote Health has expanded considerably every year, but has the increase in spend been matched by a corresponding increase in effective delivery? We need to ensure that we spend smart. Just increasing spending is not of itself an answer.

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Kiwi $ volatility

Brian Gaynor in his NZ Herald column today looks at why the volatility of the NZ$ is so pronounced.

Incredibly the volume of global currency trades in the NZ$ has markedly increased in recent years.

The article is well worth reading as it goes some way to explaining why NZ businesses are perhaps more impacted by currency volatility than those in other countries.

The question of currency risk is one that needs to be guarded against, but for many NZ companies effective risk mitigation in this area may not be possible.

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Netbooks:are they the ‘gamechanger’?

The Economist has an interesting piece on Netbooks. They suggest that these may be the disruptive technology that will causes a major change in personal computing.

Yet although netbooks have acquired many frills and mutated into new forms, the theory behind them endures: computers do not need to be stuffed with the latest whizz-bang technology if they have a high-speed connection to the “cloud” of services available online. At Computex firms showed devices equipped with WiMAX, a new wireless technology that allows for fast, ubiquitous wireless connections.

It is this combination of connectivity and cloud computing that makes netbooks and their successors so disruptive. Some mobile-network operators now throw in free netbooks if subscribers sign up for a mobile-broadband contract. This will put further pressure on prices, since mobile operators have more bargaining power than individual consumers, although it also opens a huge new distribution channel for computer-makers.

More important, netbooks and similar devices could weaken Microsoft and Intel, which have so far dominated the PC industry and extracted most of the profits.

Netbooks could signal a major shift to wireless and to the use of  the ‘cloud’.

Note as well the reference to mobile network operators providing free netbooks. Now this is very reminiscent of the mobile phone market. Incidentally, some years ago I asked a NZ telco why we could not have the phones for ‘free’ as part of a mobile contract and was effectively told I was insane.

A challenge to NZ telcos, or mobile broadband providers, who will be the first to offer ‘free netbooks’ and say Skype or an equivalent. Note Google’s Android could be a major player.

Now this would require more widely available wireless broadband, plus greater capacity and more keenly priced plans. However, I would suggest the mobile market as such is reaching saturation in NZ, so someone needs a circuit breaker.

Netbooks may well be the ‘gamechanger’ which many have been looking for. Like all disruptive technologies, the impact of the change cannot as yet be clearly foreseen, but opportunities will abound.

If things go this way, please remember you read it here.

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