Enatel Managing Director Gary Foot on the importance of saying out loud: Canterbury is one of the best regions for tech innovation in the world.
Kiwis aren’t known for a natural propensity for self-promotion.
Now, that may just be a stereotype, but nevertheless it’s probably something most keenly felt in Canterbury – a region known more for its stoicism than shouting about its successes.
Yet Canterbury is also known as the Silicon Plains. It’s a foundational bed of technological innovation that ranks amongst the best in the world.
We just don’t say it out loud.
Whether you’re talking about the power technology innovations at Enatel, the communications innovations at Tait Communications, or the software innovations at Redshield, Canterbury punches well above its weight.
And, by the way, Tait and Redshield are just two businesses that immediately come to mind – there are plenty more in the Canterbury tech community that we’re proud to be counted amongst.
Maybe its because we’re innovators that we’re so quiet. The engineer, like the doctor and the accountant, values facts above all else and avoids flim-flam at all costs.
We’re not marketers or PR people, we instinctively want to produce something and let it stand on its own two feet. If an innovative product doesn’t start a conversation simply by being, we somehow think it’s not innovative enough to count.
But if that’s the case, we really need to change the way we think.
The modern world is overloaded with information. Every single one of us is bombarded by individuals and businesses seeking to monopolise our attention via smartphone and social media. There’s just so much noise!
So standing back, arms folded, waiting for people to come to your product doesn’t work. It probably never did work to be fair, but when there’s so much noise to contend with it’s certainly never been less likely to work.
Field of Dreams was a pretty good movie, but “If you build it, they will come” isn’t a mantra worth a lot in the real world.
This is one of the reasons why Enatel is proud to support the NZ Hi-Tech Awards in 2018.
As Cantabrians and innovators, we need to be less backward about coming forward, and with the awards taking place in Christchurch this year there’s never been a better time for Cantab innovators to acknowledge their own hard work.
If you work in the Canterbury tech sector and you haven’t at least looked at the categories for this year’s awards, then I ask you: why not?
At the very least, completing an application can be a great proof of concept exercise to help you and your team focus on your innovation’s key features and benefits. I can say from experience that when you develop an innovation it’s very easy to be so close to it that you lose perspective. It can then become difficult to communicate in powerful terms what is so innovative about what you’re doing.
After months and years in the trenches, your brain is wired to think about the second and third steps, like you’re playing a game of chess.
So, if nothing else, even if you feel uncomfortable about promoting your work, download an application, work through it the same way you’d approach a business plan, and see what it helps clarify.
The other reason we’re proud to support the awards this year is it’s focus on diversity in the tech sector.
Enatel speaks almost 30 languages – everything from Afrikaans to Tagalog. We celebrate Diwali. Our Christmas staff event featured cultural performances from the Pacific Islands and Asia.
And that’s just cultural diversity. We also boast staff members from a variety of faith backgrounds and the LGBQT community.
They are all Enatel people and, if I could, I’d personally thank every single one of them for making our group of companies what it is today.
Our power innovations wouldn’t be in NFL stadiums or helping to manage rocket launches without them. Neither would our fleet battery chargers be used in distribution centres and airports across the US, or for that matter would our solar inverters be in almost 10,000 buildings around the world.
At the end of the day, the more diversity the Canterbury tech sector has, the more competitive it is. It means we’re attracting top talent from around the world to live and work here.
So, as innovators, let’s celebrate that alongside all our other achievements.
*Enatel is a sponsor of the NZ Hi-Tech Awards 2018. Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at Horncastle Arena on May 25. The deadline for award applications is March 5. For more information see www.hitech.org.nz.