INSPIRED BY KIWI INNOVATION
Imagine contacting your bank or mobile phone company at any time day or night and be instantly connected to someone who recognises you, is attentive and concerned about your problem, recalls your transaction history and resolves your problem there and then - a genuine one-call resolution each time. Then, if you were to call 12 months later the company would immediately remember you.
FaceMe’s ‘digital employee’ never leaves their job and constantly learns from each customer transaction, continually gathering vital customer data. Furthermore when they meet a customer face to face or over Skype they respond according to each customer’s emotional state.
These are not robotic ‘synths’ that create good science fiction stories. Digital employees only ever exist on the phone, computer or tablet or in-store with the sole purpose of providing amazing customer experiences.
FaceMe have a background of world-firsts and continue to focus on making complex technology, simple and accessible. FaceMe’s recent project, Nadia, was the first ‘Virtual Assistant’ built for over 460,000 people with disability in Australia; FaceMe is now challenging all businesses to review their approach to digital customer interfaces.
From their Smales Farm base in Auckland North FaceMe are enabling customers in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
FaceMe recently won the Virgin Business Challenge, voted The Most Likely NZ Startup to Succeed Internationally. This gave FaceMe access to mentoring from Richard Branson and built the foundation for FaceMe to become an international business.
Danny Tomsett, FaceMe’s founder says “Amazing customer experience is about people and AI working together in a pervasive way with immediacy, personalisation and empathy being core. We know people are great at building relationships and doing complex tasks; AI has an incredible ability to learn and complete high volume transactions. We believe this approach is the recipe to re-define Customer Experience.”
Customers’ expectations of service are higher today than ever before and have such a significant weighting on both loyalty and wallet share. As customer experience increasingly becomes a key strategic driver for most firms, the traditional contact centre will be disrupted by Artificial Intelligence, estimated to be a $47b market by 2020. www.faceme.com
FaceMe's founder and CEO Danny Tomsett in conversation with digital employee Elyssa.
Sealegs has grown from a single inspired idea into a global company providing craft for civil defence, military use and for many global customers including acclaimed designer Philippe Stark.
How many ideas are discussed over a few beers and later dismissed as unfeasible? How many ideas come from the thought;
“I wish there was an easier way to do this” and then turn into a unique product that grows into a global business?
New Zealand has a long history of marine innovation. Kiwis were the first to use refrigerated ship holds to export meat and butter around the world. Kiwi farmer Bill Hamilton built a jet boat to travel up shallow South Island rivers. Today his company is providing commercial jet boat engines globally. SEALEGS® began with a revolutionary idea to make boat launching and retrieval easy and today is providing purpose-built amphibious craft to customers around the world.
Sealegs patented fully integrated solution uses motorised, retractable, steerable wheels that allow craft to be driven from a storage location down a boat ramp or beach and into the water with the occupants remaining dry within the boat. Once in the water Sealegs wheels are retracted allowing normal high-speed boat operations.
A Sealegs craft’s unique ability to transverse land and water allows them to travel through floodwaters of varying depths, allowing fast and effective access to communities in flooded urban and rural communities making Sealegs ideal for civil defence work.
The craft are increasingly used for purposes such as super yacht tenders allowing access to remote beaches and waterways. A Sealegs craft was recently built to Phillipe Starck’s exacting specification for his own personal use, and a customised fleet of Sealegs craft recently went to the Fijian government to support emergency response operations with 23 Sealegs amphibious craft supplied to the Malaysian Civil Defence Force. See the press release here.
Owned by Future Mobility Solutions, Sealegs operates from its modern factory and offices in Auckland North where complete craft and amphibious enablement kits are designed and built.
The company that began with a “I wish there was an easier way” dream of effortless boating has become a publicly listed company that has designed and built more than 1250 amphibious craft that can be found in more than 55 countries.
Design-led firms are contributing to New Zealand’s success through DesignCo, a strong network of like-minded organisations including New Zealand’s leading tertiary design schools, the Designers Institute, and local and central government entities.
New research into design’s economic contribution to New Zealand’s economy has shown that during the last year alone design contributed $10.1b to New Zealand’s GDP.
Good design really matters. In the private sector, the study highlights design’s significant impact on firms such as Gallagher, Fisher & Paykel, Xero and Air New Zealand and there are many firms within the Grow North Innovation District such as Invenco, ERoad, Navico and BCS where design has played a significant role in their success.
Massey University’s Professor Claire Robinson, convenor of DesignCo, said at the research launch: “There is a strong correlation between national prosperity, economic growth and a thriving design sector. International evidence confirms that design leads to more competitive firms making and selling higher value products and services”.
The sector also provides approximately 94,200 FTE design positions in New Zealand, roughly 4.4% of employment. Product design and interactive design disciplines are the two biggest individual contributors towards design’s GDP. The study indicates a broadening use of design as an effective process; in exporting firms, technology, health, conservation, the public sector and within cities”. Professor Robinson said.
Design is not always associated with software companies, but Xero is a design success story: its insight into how to make reconciliation easy, the essence of the Xero approach to accounting, was devised by its co-founder, Philip Fierlinger, a designer.
Grow North’s Director Kel Marsh says “Business people should look to the processes used by designers if they want to build more innovation into their businesses. The thought processes involved in identifying problems and then conceiving and developing unique solutions is the same for entrepreneurs as it is for designers. Both designers and entrepreneurs have to be effective at creating unique and valuable solutions and designers are often much better at it.”
Professor Robinson said: “DesignCo partners will continue to connect with the constituent parts of the New Zealand design eco-system, telling the story of New Zealand’s design excellence, rectifying the paucity of information about the design sector and gathering statistical data on the value and impact of design in New Zealand.
In 2015 a group of Auckland leaders gathered together to create a vibrant innovation ecosystem that will encourage more innovation and scaleable ventures. Research carried out by Massey University within the district informed a "Grow North" strategy which is now being implemented under the guidance of a steering group representing business, university and government.
New Zealand is becoming one of the best places in the world to create and test new ideas before launching them onto the world's markets. And the Auckland North district is a fantastic place to base a business and to live, learn, work and play. As part of this, the Grow North initiative connects people and groups together to create a single school-to-scaleup innovation escalator, increasing the number of researchers, academics, innovative and pioneering businesses and pulling more skilled employees into the district.
Grow North’s mission is to unlock the potential of individuals, groups and organisations and raise the overall level of innovation, collaboration and investor intelligence. Visionary leaders, specialists, entrepreneurs and investors are being attracted to the area to contribute their knowledge and hard-won experience.
The Grow North Smart Innovation District is sponsored by Massey University, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development and the BNZ. Enquiries from potential new sponsors and partners are welcomed.
For further information about the Grow North Smart Innovation District, please contact Grow North’s Director, Kel Marsh. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grow North Innovation District ‘architects’. From left, Brett O’Riley, former CEO of ATEED. Gary Monk, BNZ. Kel Marsh, Grow North Director. Ted Zorn, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Massey University. At right; former Massey University Vice Chancellor Steve Maharey and Grow North Research Leader Prof Rebecca Gill.
Grow North articles are written by those who work closely with businesses, incubators, accelerators, academics, investors and business interest groups within the Auckland North Innovation Corridor.
For more Innovative Kiwi stories
For more information about the Grow North Smart Innovation District
The Auckland Innovation Dashboard (Click the image)
For more information on Grow North's Partners
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