NZ needs an AI strategy, digital maturity to boost productivity - new research

New research argues a 20 percent increase in the use of digital technologies will make New Zealand better off by $26 billion. 

Commissioned by telecommunications giant Spark, the report by the New Zealand Insitute of Economic Research (NZIER) said such an uplift could increase GDP by between 1.15 percent and 2.08 percent a year.

"We risk falling further behind in the rankings if we were not to do more in that space of how we can bring businesses along with us on this digital maturity curve," NZIER Principal Economist Christina Leung said. 

Looking back over the past few decades, Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson said New Zealanders are working harder and longer.  

"We're not actually using and adopting the advanced technology as much as we'd like." 

Hodson said a lot of research and studies show about 40 percent of people just don't know how to use it in their business. 

Spark has highlighted examples of how advanced digital technologies are being used. 

Adroit is an environmental monitoring company that installs "tilt metres" in landslides to provide real time data on land movement. 

Adroit's Ulrich Frerk said this can help alert road crews.

"They can do mitigation work such as de-watering the site where they... dig a certain amount of trenches, build drainage which can stop the slope from moving, which would keep New Zealand moving and the roads from closing." 

Another example showcased was an automatic transcription service being used by south Auckland specialist GP Karl Cole. 

Developed by Nabla, it transcribes a doctor patient consult, creates a summary and sends it to the patient within minutes of leaving the practice. 

Dr Cole said each 15-minute consultation can actually take an hour once all the paperwork and forms are filled out. 

"It's one of the first technologies in 29 years working as a doctor that's... been a - I don't use the word lightly - a game changer." 

Spark has now develpoed a digital maturity scale so business can assess where they are on a digital transformation.