Let's get our game on NZ!

28 August 2017
Head and torso portrait of Jayne in front of floor to ceiling windows. Jayne stands with her arms crossed.
Professor Jayne Godfrey

Invest in people to capitalize on digital disruption.

The digital transformation of business is shifting the balance of economic power between industries and countries. New Zealand can benefit greatly from this, but we need to up our game.

Microsoft’s Asia Digital Transformation Study released earlier this year reported that three-quarters of the NZ business leaders surveyed agreed they need to transform to a digital business to enable future growth, but only 36% had a full digital transformation strategy in place for their business.

Fewer than 10% are focusing on how digitization can transform products and enable new business models, which is a key to growth and expansion especially in global markets.

New Zealand is in the middle of the pack against our regional competitors, and moving up the league table requires investment in the development of business leaders and employees.

Three of the top six barriers to digital transformation cited in the Microsoft study relate to a lack of knowledge and skills. To benefit from the digital transformation, New Zealand needs a digitally skilled workforce, technology leaders who are business savvy, and leaders who can creatively ideate, plan and execute digital strategy.

This is one of the core insights driving our strategy at the University of Auckland Business School. To achieve our mission of enhancing New Zealand’s economic growth and prosperity, we are investing in research into digital marketing, digital currencies and other blockchain applications, collaborative innovation, management of change, entrepreneurship and in many other areas that will help businesses benefit from the digital transformation.

Universities are also facing disruption, and are having to rethink what they teach and how it is taught. Predictions that more than half of the roles young people are training for now will be replaced by automation within a decade are daunting, but job losses will be offset by new opportunities for those with the mind-set and skills to exploit them.

Head and shoulders portrait. Rod is sitting cross-legged.
Professor Rod McNaughton

Thus, business school curriculum is shifting to include data analytics, digital marketing and communications, social media, business modelling, change management, innovation and entrepreneurship. A focus on gaining knowledge is giving way to helping students prepare for an uncertain future by developing their creativity, emotional intelligence, adaptability, communication skills, teamwork, and cross-cultural understanding.

Traditional lectures are being replaced by team-based learning and more experiential approaches to learning, and instructors are both bringing technology into the classroom, and going online to support students outside of the classroom. For example, the University of Auckland Business School, in collaboration with other New Zealand universities, will soon launch its first ever fully online Master-level programme.

The School is also increasing engagement with students outside of the classroom, and encouraging them to collaborate entrepreneurially with businesses. The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, hosted in the Business School, is poised to open a new maker-space to foment creativity and collaboration among students, staff and businesses.

Disruption does not mean destruction. The digital transformation is challenging New Zealand and the world to think differently and reimagine the nature of work and how business is practised. New Zealand can benefit from this, but to win, we need to work together to up our game.


By Professor Jayne M Godfrey, Dean, University of Auckland Business School, and Professor Rod McNaughton, Deputy Dean, University of Auckland Business School

Reproduced with permission from the National Business Review (NBR), Lets get our game on NZ! published Friday 25 August 2017.