New IT Professionals head 'a real cynic'
Animation Research chief executive Ian Taylor has tried influencing government technology policy by "lobbing hand grenades" from the sidelines but says he only "pissed politicians off".
He's now taking a different tack as the newly-elected president of the industry's peak professional body, the Institute of Information Technology Professionals (IITP).
His goals include encouraging the Education Ministry to give the teaching of information technology a higher priority, persuading Maori trusts to take a closer look at the industry and reforming government procurement.
Taylor is arguably Dunedin's best-known technology entrepreneur. Animation Research achieved success producing graphics for the America's Cup and is currently working on bringing its wizardry to the Cricket World Cup and Volvo Ocean Race.
The company has kept its headcount stable at about 30 staff, a number Taylor says he's comfortable with, but has branched out from sports. Animation Research has applied its 3-D modelling skills to the Christchurch rebuild and was last week flying a drone over Auckland.
"We are modelling all of downtown Auckland. We think there is a big role 3-D modelling can play with its multibillion-dollar infrastructure build," Taylor said.
It is also negotiating alongside Airways New Zealand to supply the Total Control air traffic control simulators it built for the state-owned enterprise to the Chinese market.
Taylor said he never thought he would get involved in an organisation like the IITP, previously called the Computer Society, but decided to take a second look after finding out the role of president was unpaid.
"I am a real cynic when it comes to all of these organisations but I thought if people were doing this for free it must be important." The IITP worked quietly behind the scenes and gathered the facts, meaning that it when it put its grenades somewhere "there was something behind them", he said.
Taylor said his past lobbying efforts included trying to get the Education Ministry to take the sector more seriously. "How do we make sure our kids come out of the education system equipped for high-value jobs and a future that doesn't have the jobs we were used to because technology has removed them?"
He has also been a vocal backer of the America's Cup which he said was "never, ever about a boat race but about technology".
Airways NZ took "an enormous punt" commissioning Animation Research to build its air traffic controllers simulators eight years ago, when the safe option would have been buy from overseas even though it couldn't find quite what it wanted on the world market, he said.
Mike Dennehy, managing director for Qube Global Software in Australia and New Zealand, was elected deputy president.
Taylor said the IITP had some ideas on how it could encourage other government buyers to change their ways. "I'd really like to think we might have some informed discussions. That is where I have been hollering loudly from an empty bucket.
"I've got no facts behind me, other than what happens now feels wrong. My gut feeling is it starts with the 'request for proposals' (RFP) and the quality of the RFP. They put out an RFP and the doors shut."