Geeks, nerds and that burning smell – ICT winners and losers in 2017


Geeks, nerds and that burning smell - ICT winners and losers in 2017

Geeks, nerds and that burning smell - ICT winners and losers in 2017

Last year I compiled a satirical list of ICT companies that won or lost the battle for the affection of us ICT brokers for businesses. The response was a mixture of simpering sweetness and hate mail (you know who you are). Nevertheless, I’m doing it again this year, in this article. To my colleagues who I offend in the next few hundred words, I apologise for my ill humour, even if you have been the authors of your own destruction. ICT Winners and Losers (a satire) The Coolest Kids in Town Award: Kordia Who would have thought that Kordia -- formerly government-owned BCL with its unwashed hoard of nerds in walk shorts, sandals, long socks and straggly beards -- would have transformed itself over a single decade into the ultra-cool company it is now? Delivering superb, Ultra-Fast Broadband innovation at impressive price/performance levels and showing market leadership in emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things-enabler Sigfox, it seems maybe geeks can fly after all. The How Many Fingers am I Holding Up? Award: 2 Degrees It seems only a year or two ago that 2Degrees offered great coverage to the major cities and a big finger to the provinces. Millions of dollars and a heck of a lot of hard work later, they now offer something resembling decent coverage at a very competitive price. A player to watch in 2018. The Spurned Lover Award: Spark Marketing Please, please, please Spark will you stop telling us how crap you were and how things will get better now that you have sacked half your staff. When all you have left are excuses for your bad behaviour and pleas for forgiveness, maybe it’s time to make a break with the past and move on. In truth you are damn good at the things that matter and most of us love buying off Kiwi companies (see Kordia and Datacom). The People’s Choice Award: Datacom For those of you who have nothing but bad things to say about these guys I have two questions: "Where do the vast majority of the most respected and admired ex- Gen-i and Computerland people work now?” and, “Which other Kiwi success story has grown at over 11 per cent year-on-year for over a decade, while competing head to head against some of the world’s smartest and most successful multi-nationals?” Datacom has proved, to the tune of $1.2 billion a year in revenues, that people buy off people, even if most of them have grey hair poking out their noses and ears. The Comeback Kid Award: Samsung Galaxy S8 The best thing since the Nokia flip phone. Great camera, features and battery life. Pity people still think twice before putting it in their pocket. The Lone Ranger Award: People still investing in DIY IT infrastructure The No 8 wire mentality that you were so proud of in the 90s is now just a sign of your desire to control everything at the expense of business flexibility. We know you want to prove that you are more intelligent than everyone else, but have you noticed that the guy who pays your wages and conducts your annual salary review has stopped putting you in front of the business and has informally renamed your section “The Department of No”? That roaring sound is the jet engine that is public cloud departing with your career prospects. The Hottie of the Year Award: Samsung Note 7 I was so proud when I took you out of the box and stroked your luscious lines. The screen definition, the camera, the selection of cool software: you made me truly happy for a while. Then there was the smoke, the heat, the burning sensation in my pocket…has anyone seen the fire extinguisher? Oh, the humanity!   Merry Christmas readers. Talk in the New Year. David Spratt is a director of Total Utilities. Email

Leaking air, leaking bottom line: top money-saving tips

Leaking air, leaking bottom line: top money-saving tips

The following was published in the NZ Herald 25th of November 2017 and includes energy tips from Total Utilities' own Pushkar Kulkarni who reveals how leaking air wastes money. Four energy experts offer top tips to save money Running an air-conditioning unit at full tilt to cool down one part of a building, while a boiler blazes away to heat another part of that same building, sounds like madness - but it's surprisingly common in New Zealand's commercial buildings. It's just one of the ways businesses are squandering energy, and therefore money, in the course of their day-to-day operations. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) say many businesses could shave up to 20 per cent off energy costs - with the potential energy efficiency savings adding up to $900 million a year across all New Zealand businesses by 2030, if all economic options are adopted. The good news is many of the fixes are inexpensive, immediately effective and boast short timeframes for return on investment. Some even cost nothing. According to some of the market's energy efficiency experts, here are some of the most common ways businesses are wasting energy. Poor energy monitoring Simon Ross, mechanical engineer, Beca: "People leave their buildings running when there's no one in them. The warm-up cycles also often start way too early in the mornings - and no one is even aware of it." Ross says monitoring energy use identifies where it is being wasted and quickly clarifies a plan of attack. It's a classic case of not being able to manage what hasn't been measured. "Once you've measured it, it then makes sense to compare your energy usage to others in your industry - to benchmark it." Ross points to Beca's benchmarking of electricity use of Christchurch schools: "When a school can see where it sits relative to another school then they can see the value in reducing their energy usage. Until you give them data to show where they sit, they're basically only able to compare with how they've performed historically - which might be good, or terrible." EECA Business has its Energy Management Journey tool set up for precisely this purpose. It's a free online tool where users input energy usage data, then find out how they're doing compared to similar businesses. Find out more at Leaking Air Pushkar Kulkarni, business manager sustainability solutions, Total Utilities: "Many companies invest in a new air compressor but may not make an effort to find the leaks in the system first. If all of those leaks are found and fixed, they may conclude there is no need to invest in a new compressor." Kulkarni sees this scenario on a regular basis. He estimates eight out of every 10 systems could be leaking air. "These systems are very common in New Zealand - particularly in the industries of production, packaging, food processing, waste, yarn and pharmaceutical production. Over time they may deteriorate or be modified and start leaking air. They can be expensive to run, so the savings from identifying and fixing leaks can be considerable. It's usually a fairly inexpensive fix with a fast return on investment."     Uninsulated pipes Glenn Johnston, Smart Power: "If it's an exposed pipe in a warm boiler room it's not as bad but, if that pipe runs outside or through the roof space where it's a lot colder, the heat loss can be substantial." Johnston is used to seeing money go down the drain in the form of energy escaping from uninsulated pipes, used for both heating and cooling. "Industries where it's important to insulate pipes include the likes of food processors, hospitals, freezing works, packaging plants - anywhere they have refrigeration or hot water needs." Often these pipes are easier to get to than in commercial buildings, making repairs easier and cheaper. Johnston cites the example of a plant his company worked on. The company beefed up insulation of steam and hot water equipment. A $20,000 investment turned into an annual saving of some 250,000kWh, or $11,000, giving a payback period of just 1.9 years. "When you insulate pipes properly you get an immediate impact," says Johnston. Heating and cooling systems fighting each other Alastair Hines, divisional manager, Enercon: "Heating and cooling systems are often working at the same time. Nobody worries about it too much, because it's the norm." Hines points to one business which Enercon found many of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems were operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when not required. The HVAC systems also did not have an air temperature dead-band to prevent frequent switching from heating to cooling and vice versa. That resulted in increased demands on the system and adjacent zones simultaneously heating and cooling. Hines says this happens in many commercial buildings, typically because the building is poorly controlled. He estimates 10-20 per cent of the energy used for heating and cooling in a building is wasted. "When you consider heating and cooling account for up to 50 per cent of the total cost of running it, that 10-20 per cent can be a big saving. Adding sub-meters, sensors, and re-programming the building management system all make a big difference." A treasure trove of information about how businesses can save energy is available on, or find an energy management expert in the Programme Partner directory.

Watercare House Case Study: Anchor tenant scores a NABERSNZ excellent rating for energy use

Pushkar Kulkarni from Total Utilities completed the site review and NABERSNZ Assessment of Watercare House. Here he provides additional commentary to the original published case study, highlighting the specific benefits of a NABERSNZ tenancy rating. "A NABERSNZ tenancy rating is an ideal tool for tenants as it shows them how their day to day operations impact their energy performance. It can also determine how well they manage energy and identify the opportunities that may exist to improve energy performance. In an increasingly competitive market place and businesses look for a point of difference by delivering on their corporate and social responsibility, and think about long term business sustainability, tools like NABERSNZ are a good demonstration of their willingness to "walk the talk". It reflects where they are now with respect to others and what benefits they can get by improving their NABERSNZ rating. I definitely feel that ratings will become increasingly important in New Zealand. Equipment directly impacting the tenancy rating of Watercare are: lighting, computers, and client specific plug load etc. They are limited to what they can do with the lighting connections and zoning due to way in which these were originally designed. This has had an impact on the rating. If a NABERSNZ rating was a factor that developers and contractors were informed of during the design/build stage, then there is good chance that the lighting connections and zoning may have been designed differently. In my opinion the occupancy density, clever use of all areas, and using lighting controls are the main factors that have resulted in a 4-Star NABERSNZ tenancy rating for Watercare. The rating demonstrates it's a very good start and platform for Watercare to understand where they are at compared to the wider market and examine strategies on how they can improve going forward."   Scoring a first-rate NABERSNZ 4-star tenancy rating for energy consumption at its office demonstrates an Auckland company’s commitment to the environment. Auckland water provider Watercare Services Limited is the anchor tenant in an eight-level office block constructed in bustling Newmarket in 2013. 73 Remuera Road is the first Green Star rated commercial property in the district and reflects the growing demand from corporate tenants for green principled, energy smart work spaces. Watercare occupies three of five office floors in the building. Key Facts 4-star ‘excellent’ NABERSNZ tenancy rating Energy use certified as 97.6 kWh/year/m2 NABERSNZ to be used at other sites Further energy upgrades continue Big Numbers 2013 – achieves a 5 Green Star Design rating 2015 – achieves a 5 Green Star Built rating 2016 – achieves a 4 star NABERSNZ tenancy rating Energy use certified as 97.6 kWh/year/m2 Total energy consumption 738,454 kWh/ year Building Profile Location:  73 Remuera Road, Newmarket, Auckland Owner: Viewmount Orchards Limited Anchor Tenant: Watercare Services Limited (approximately 300 employees on site on an ordinary day) Accolades: 5 Green Star Design (Achieved 2013) 5 Green Star Built (Achieved 2015) NZ Property Council Award – Commercial Office Property Best in Category Award 2015 NZ Property Council Award – Green Building Property Merit Award 2015 The Anchor Tenant Watercare is an Auckland Council owned organisation (CCO) providing water and wastewater services to Auckland and its environs. It is committed to the sustainable management of natural resources and energy saving operations. The Auckland Council has two additional NABERSNZ rated premises – the Manukau Civic Building (3 star whole building, 2014) and Orewa Service Centre (3.5 star whole building 2016). The Building/Facilities Manager FM Concepts Limited is an Auckland-based commercial property management firm which focuses on medium to large high rise buildings and offers a full range of services including onsite operational management, property consultancy, contract management, health and safety systems and cost management. It has a strong interest in the sustainability of the built environment and energy efficiency. Two commercial buildings in its portfolio are currently undergoing NABERSNZ ratings. Key Sustainable Features Located within easy walking distance of train and bus networks - encourages sustainable transport options for occupants High-tech building controls and management system with real time monitoring Energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). Double glazed façade LED lighting Well-designed waste collection and recycling area End of trip facilities – gym, cycle park and locker facilities This property is a brownfield redevelopment – its construction has improved an existing dilapidated area and makes a positive contribution to a sustainable Auckland. Why NABERSNZ? With water being its core business Watercare has the environment and energy issues at the top of its agenda. While its head office is housed in Green Star rated Watercare House the company’s sustainability manager Roseline Klein says the company wanted to understand its everyday energy performance across the three floors it occupies in the building. It was the missing ingredient. We wanted to know where we were at with our energy performance, how well we were doing and where we could improve. We’d heard about NABERSNZ so we did some research online. It’s a great tool, it provides a benchmark and it drives best practice.” – Watercare Services Limited Sustainability Manager Roseline Klein NABERSNZ in Action Watercare Services Limited sustainability manager Roseline Klein says undertaking a NABERSNZ rating over its 7563 square metres of office space has proved to be “a painless process”. The meterage required for a rating was already in place – 18 meters had been installed in the building during the construction period to aid fine-tuning of systems and utilities. The company took advantage of the free NABERSNZ feasibility assessment which determines a building’s readiness to get started with a rating. “It made a big difference for us and took away the humdrum business of counting 644 computers and documenting the configuration of staff plus it set a timetable, provided a checklist and saved us time,” says Roseline. NABERSNZ assessor Pushkar Kulkarni from Total Utilities says lighting, computers and occupant specific plug load have the biggest impact on a tenancy rating. He says clever configuration of work spaces, occupancy density and sensory lighting controls have resulted in Watercare’s superb 4 star result. The Value of NABERSNZ Watercare says it wants to model water and energy efficiency and its 4-star NABERSNZ tenancy rating shows its credentials. Sustainability manager Roseline Klein says the rating has been “a great experience” and has pushed the company to look hard at its resources and ensure they are better used. “It’s spearheaded change. For example we’re now trying to ensure our procurement process is not always about cost but energy efficiency too. We’ve recently retrofitted our gym with water efficient shower heads which use nine litres per minute compared with 12 – they offer a better shower experience and use less water and energy,” she says. Roseline believes if a NABERSNZ rating was compulsory it would encourage energy awareness and help tackle climate change. “For example Aucklanders are the lowest users of water because it is charged volumetrically so whether you are sustainably-minded or not your invoice reminds you not to waste, to think of water efficiency. A mandatory energy performance rating would have the same effect for landlords and tenants.” In Australia a NABERS rating is compulsory for commercial offices over 1,000 square metres while a range of mandatory energy performance ratings exist in Europe. NABERSNZ assessor Pushkar Kulkarni says as Kiwi businesses increasingly look to deliver on corporate and social responsibility and think about long-term business sustainability a NABERSNZ rating demonstrates a willingness to ‘walk the talk’. “The NABERSNZ tool is set to become increasingly important in New Zealand.” A NABERSNZ rating demonstrates a willingness to ‘walk the talk’ – NABERSNZ Assessor Pushkar Kulkarni

Telecommunications: The Consumer Wins Again

Telecommunications services are a commodity and this has driven the price of services, especially consumer mobile and fixed broadband, to levels that were only a dream a few years ago. Here is some context. My 13-year-old son gets more for his $10 per month prepay mobile plan today than I got for my $35 plus handset post-paid plan in the late 1990’s. At that time text messages were 20c each and only available from Vodafone. My home fibre broadband connection, without a phone attached, costs $95 per month and gives me 103Mbs/sec throughput at quiet times and at the worst times I still see 70Mbs/sec. When I moved into my current house in late 2001 dialup, at 56kbs/sec was all we had.   All this transformation has been very good for the consumer and has driven a massive change in the way we consume telco services. Our household has ditched the fixed line because only telemarketers and political researchers were calling on it. Instead we use mobiles, Skype, Facebook and Whatsapp to communicate locally and internationally. We disconnected traditional Television a year or so ago because of the ads and our entertainment is delivered via the internet consuming Netflix, Youtube and online games on a PS4. Commoditisation enables competition The ever increasing commoditisation of services, along with the entry into the market of a large number of new fibre suppliers and telecommunications retailers, has created a highly competitive market place. There are now around 80 companies fighting to provide broadband services to an increasingly demanding client base. This phenomenon is not unique to Telecommunications. It is very typical in the open market that is New Zealand to find multiple players fighting for share. In another example, the retail electricity market has 32 actively trading retailers. In comparison Texas has 38 retailers for 28 Million people. Fierce competition has meant a constant driving down of retail pricing. As an example, a Skinny fixed broadband unlimited plan at $68 a month, delivered on 100 Mbps fibre. This price leaves Spark with only $16 out of the $68 after paying Chorus' wholesale charges. In response Spark is refocusing towards wireless broadband rather than continuing to fight a “race to zero” price war over fibre based services. Spark are now pushing very hard the idea that connectivity should be wireless and are offering services on their 4G mobile network at the same rates to homes as the ADSL products. Spark Digital boss Simon Moutter commented at the company annual meeting, “Spark has reoriented its business towards a wireless future and making a strategic shift from a traditional telco with international interests to being a New Zealand-focused digital services company.“ It now looks like the relationship between Spark and Chorus, which was never an easy relationship, has moved to an all-out war. Chorus has responded by saying they will become an active wholesaler, pushing their products in the market. This is a big change from being a passive wholesaler. For customers on ADSL there is a real challenge from the 4G fixed cellular broadband. This type of service has been very effective for rural customers who had slow or non-existent broadband available. What does this mean for telecommunications customers? I don’t see any downside, if you have fibre in your street, choose a provider and enjoy. If currently have a VDSL connection available, stay on that, the service is high speed and low latency. For those who are unlucky enough to have ADSL only there are two camps. Some will get good speeds and others will not be so fortunate. If your ADSL is not up to scratch then I believe that the 4G Spark service is an excellent option. With 5G just around the corner, even more options will be available in the near future. Once again competition has brought better services at lower prices to consumers. It’s the lumbering old Telco’s that are paying the price.

New Branding and New Services

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. Drawing is the honesty of the art. Salvador Dali Today Total Utilities announces its new branding. Over the last 18 years we have worked hard to assist companies in controlling consumption and cost. It's an exciting day for us and we are proud to share this with you. From today you'll see a change in the way we look, including our new ribbon logo. The spherical shape represents the whole as we take a 360 degree approach to understanding our clients and their utility requirements, whether it be Energy, Waste and ICT or Insights, Strategy and Solutions. What doesn't change is our desire to create a sustainable future for New Zealand businesses and how they manage their utilities by continuing to deliver ongoing value for our clients. We continue to work hard to provide new services to assist our clients such as Energy Monitoring and Targeting through wireless non-intrusive energy senors, Cloud Computing Analytics for consumption of computer services and qualitative and quantitative reporting aligned to overall financial strategy. Total Utiltities About Us Presentation We remain committed to delivering a personalised service and assisting our clients navigate a rapidly evolving commercial market place by underpinning strategic thinking. I would like to thank our existing clients for your continued loyalty and confidence in our company. To prospective clients, I hope that you will partner with us to discover real world solutions for sustainable utility consumption and cost optimisation.


Sustainable cost reductions - No, I'm not talking price

Posted 5 December 2017 by Chris Hargreaves

Cost reduction in the energy market through procurement has been relatively easy in the last few years. Flat national demand, solid hydro storage, increased retailer competition and participation in the ASX market has led to competitive commercial contracts that have allowed many customers to save money without changing what they are doing. While an immediate impact, it is not sustainable. Fixed price contracts are typically only 2-3 years in length and only relate to +/- 65% of a total bill, changes in transmission and distribution pricing is passed through at cost by the retailers and...
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Making Communities of Practice Work in the Real World

Posted 3 November 2017 by David Spratt

This is the third and final article on Communities of Practice (COPs), a model designed to help align business strategy with the evolving knowledge and experience of your people, while still taking advantage of the efficiencies that can be gained through more formal organisational structures and processes. I can now safely say, after many years of practice -- complete with a few painful cock-ups along the way -- that the workplace model, Communities of Practice (COPs), does work. Making Communities of Practice work doesn't happen on its own, but with the right groundwork in place and...
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Ongoing Insights with Cloud Analytics: Zespri Case Study

Posted 31 October 2017 by David Spratt

In 2013, Zespri, one of the world’s leading horticultural companies, and the recognised category leader in kiwifruit, was facing many significant challenges. The Psa virus which attacked their main gold kiwifruit crop, had the potential to devastate the company and its grower shareholders. In addition, they were facing significant capital outlays associated with their existing ICT systems and the need to upgrade their computer hardware. Zespri had to ask questions like, "Could the new variety of crop, Sun Gold, be more robust and become another bestseller?", or, "Would our outputs...
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Communities of Practice: The Three Essential Elements

Posted 26 October 2017 by David Spratt

Last month I introduced Communities of Practice, a model designed to help align business strategy with the evolving knowledge and experience of its people, while still taking advantage of the efficiencies that can be gained through more formal organisations and processes. There are three elements that make up a Community of Practice. These are Domain, Community and Practice. Domain The common ground that inspires members to join, drives their learning activities and gives purpose and meaning to their activities. Let’s take a simple example. Yours is a plumbing and gas fitting...
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What is Power Factor: This Overlooked Charge Could Be Costing You Dearly

Posted 26 September 2017 by Chris Hargreaves

What is Power Factor and why is it Important? Power Factor is an electrical term that is the measurement of how efficient energy consuming equipment translate that energy into a useful output. It is measured by the ratio (>0 and <1) between apparent power (kVA) and real power (kW), where apparent power is the amount of energy required to deliver a required output. Power Factor should be as close to 1 as possible (above 0.95) so that apparent power and real power are nearly the same. This means that nearly all the energy consumed is translated into a useful output. An analogy of this...
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Forming Communities of Practice to Reinvigorate Business

Posted 13 September 2017 by David Spratt

A colleague from one of New Zealand’s emerging winners in the software development market tells me that, despite its success, he is concerned about whether he is utilising the very expensive specialists in his business to best effect. He bemoaned: “It seems the bigger we get, the more time wastage we create. “Our best people are already frustrated at the inefficiencies and are headed to the door. “It’s hard enough finding top people without losing the best of the best to our competitors. We pay well. We have a great environment in our offices and our customers are blue...
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