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Dateline Nelson: Innovation upstream at NZ King Salmon

Divina Paredes | Nov. 24, 2014
IT manager Simon Gutschlag takes the perspectives of a biologist, an environmentalist and a technology evangelist at New Zealand King Salmon.

"It brought our helpdesk volumes down," he says. People were downloading apps for fishing and shopping. "Within the first six months people were coming to me saying, 'I am using this app at home and we could really use this here', and they would explain the business proposition."

He encouraged staff who travel for work to contact ICT to have apps like Skype, Viber and WhatsApp installed on their smartphones. This way, they can easily communicate with their families when they are away.

"My big vision is, in terms of on boarding staff, you sign a contract with King Salmon to start and there's a Web portal you go to before you even start. You choose your phone and that gets sent out to you before you've even started with us, maybe with some corporate video or corporate information. So when you arrive, you're all ready to go [to work]."

Gutschlag continues to monitor developments in their BYOD space, "to be able to quantify what the support model might look like in the future".

Big data is an area that is of interest to him and his team. "There's so much environmental information out there and it impacts what happens with fish," he says.

He has actively gone out to the different divisions at King Salmon, and asked them to give him all their information sources, ranging from spreadsheets to temperature counters. He points out they also have a number of databases, DB2 and SQL. "We have to bring these structured and non-structured stuff together," he says, as well as external information including data from monitoring agencies and data from ferries.

This will enable him to spot a trend. "[If] something happens on the farm around March and April I'm sure they'll be some data trend that says what it is."

He is also looking at how ICT can work with the sales team, particularly around customer data in the CRM system. Prior to moving to King Salmon's current office two years ago, he purposely positioned IT next to sales, which was then based in another building. Today, the product development team is also close to the ICT department.

ICT staff are encouraged to work in other business units, and vice versa. His staff also get invited to meetings in other departments, including sales and manufacturing.

Light bulb moments

Since 2011, Gutschlag, has been organising an annual 'ICT day'. He invites senior managers across the company to an offsite meeting where they discuss business technology trends.

Gutschlag invites the company's key vendors to talk about their latest projects — local, regional and offshore — and also what is happening in their respective areas. The main topic of discussion, however, is provided by Gutschlag, and these could be around emerging technologies.


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