International expansion is always a daunting prospect. You could be the most healthily funded start-up in the Western Hemisphere, but it does not mean the challenge of launching and succeeding in a new geography - even if it's a neighbouring country - isn't hugely intense. Local cultures, cost of expansion and sheer distance mean there are many obstacles on the path to success.
New Zealand has excellent trade links with the UK in a range of industries from automobiles to lamb. However, ICT is one of New Zealand's fastest-growing industries. New Zealand exported NZ$61m (£27m) in IT services to the UK in 2013 (our third-largest market behind Australia and the US). Over the past 20 years, the country has become a hub of technological innovation and development. The UK, and its pedigree for both producing and accommodating tech giants, makes it a prime target for trading. It's great to have such a target, but for ICT companies from New Zealand, the challenge is especially tough.
New Zealand is a relatively small country and a great deal of domestic business is done through personal connections and word-of-mouth endorsements. However, the sheer tyranny of distance dictates that the approach we are accustomed to on home soil often goes out the window when we leave our shores. This is why the robustness of the UK channel has been such an integral part of helping Kiwi ICT companies to expand on this side of the world.
The partnerships that have been established have undoubtedly enabled our ICT industry to flourish and have set the platform for this emerging sector to push into even more geographies. We have seen software organisations of all sizes succeed over here, thanks in no small part to the UK channel ecosystem. For example, Greentree is one of our most successful ERP software companies which is now well established in the UK, with a head office in Winchester and 11 UK partners.
TalkingTech is an automated payment and payment management and customer engagement services company, partnering with companies which have large customer bases (generally from 500,000 to 20 million or more customers). Its partnership with Experian has been critical in its success.
Even our largest ICT companies have reaped the benefits of partnering with UK resellers and distributors. Gallagher is a well-known New Zealand technology company that provides both hardware and software access control solutions for secure buildings, such as offices and datacentres. Its network of partnerships has not only enabled it to sign significant contracts in the UK - the Shard in London being one of its most prestigious customers - but facilitated further expansion into Europe and beyond.
The partners in the UK open a huge range of doors to Kiwi companies in a much shorter timescale, meaning they can get their products to market more quickly. The good news for the UK ecosystem is that exciting, groundbreaking ICT companies are cropping up in New Zealand all the time. The levels of innovation are astounding and there is a truly intense desire to engage with the UK.
Whereas in previous years, some may have been surprised to consider New Zealand an ICT powerhouse, it is now increasingly establishing itself as one of the most creative B2B technology development hubs on the planet. Kiwi companies know the benefits that partnering with the UK channel can bring, and will continue to actively seek out the right partners when the time comes to venture overseas. Long may the relationship continue.
For more information on New Zealand trade and enterprise visit www.newzealand.com/business
Daniel Taylor, New Zealand trade commissioner - UK and Ireland
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