Thursday, 07 November 2019 13:12

Building agtech, fintech capabilities in ANZ

Ecosystm principal advisor Jannat Maqbool Ecosystm principal advisor Jannat Maqbool

Agtech and fintech – especially "green fintech" (fintech that aims to support sustainability, inclusivity, transparency, etc rather than merely reducing friction so that people spend more) – has a lot of potential for Australia and New Zealand, but require the development of appropriate skills.

New Zealand is making digital technologies (eg, computational thinking) part of the school curriculum by 2020 as a way of building the talent pipeline, Ecosystm principal advisor Jannat Maqbool told iTWire.

Such skills are needed in a variety of disciplines, including marketing and accounting, she said.

Significant advances are coming from people with a combination of domain and tech knowledge that allows them to apply technology to meet latent demands.

For example, Halter – a "Fitbit for cows" that also creates virtual fences – was co-founded by Craig Piggott who, she said, grew up on a dairy farm and realised that farmers needed to spend less time working and more time with their families.

Merely waiting for today's school students to enter the workforce isn't an option. Digital thinking "is a mindset... that also needs to happen to people already in employment" or looking to rejoin the workforce.

Specific skills required include:

• Integration – multiple technologies are required to collect and pool data

• Security – both hardware and software knowledge is needed to keep everything secure

• AI and analytics – people "want information in a visual format."

It is also important to realise that "technology isn't the be all and end all." Agtech, fintech and similar areas of endeavour are interdisciplinary, and knowledge and understanding of the target market is most important, Maqbool told iTWire.

To take full advantage of domain knowledge, efforts are needed to establish startup-nurturing facilities such as hubs and co-working spaces in regional areas, not just in cities, she added.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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