Business editor DeneMackenzie has reported on Jade,
and its predecessors Aoraki and Linc, for a quarter of a
century. During a recent visit to Christchurch, he caught up
with chief executive David Lindsay for an update on the
software company with port links around the world.
Jade managing director David Lindsay is decidedly upbeat when
he emerges through security doors to greet the Otago Daily
The previous 12 months had been ''exciting'', significant
growth having been achieved by the company, which is becoming
a dominant global force in the logistics software market.
''The nice thing for us is growth usually comes in pockets.
One product might do well or one part of the business might
do well. Now, growth is across all parts of the business.
''I have been with the company for 16 years and this is the
most growth I have seen during that period. It's a good place
to be in.''
One of the drivers of the recent growth was the growing
logistics market, where Jade excelled in providing ports with
software to monitor cargo.
But Jade was also working on enterprise apps for mobile
devices and connecting banks with their customers in a myriad
of ways, he said.
Invercargill-based SBS Bank and Taranaki-based TSB were
Businesses were looking at how they could interact with their
customers at any time in real time.
''All of that has generated demand from customers.''
Mr Lindsay forecast a strong financial result for the end of
the current financial year.
In 2011, Wynyard, which was a part of Jade, was separated out
and listed on the NZX. Wynyard specialises in crime-fighting
Mr Lindsay said there was some concern about the separation
and how it would impact on Jade but the growth for the
software company started to show through from the separation.
Jade retrained its focus on logistics products, which are
used in New Zealand ports such as Port Otago, one of the
original adopters of the software.
''This is a race to be the top provider in this $US500
million ($NZ614 million) annual market. There is clear space
between us and the few competitors in the market.''
Jade also made a decision early in its business plan to
provide the best customer support it could - the well-known
but not often adopted principle of ''think globally, act
locally'', he said.
Jade had support people in the Middle East and the United
States for 24-hour, seven-day-a-week support in the local
Dubai staff numbers would double in the coming year and
Jacksonville staff, in the US, would also increase.
What gave Jade an edge in the market was its focus on mixed
cargo, Mr Lindsay said. Also, the ''painless implementation''
of Jade's software gave it a competitive advantage.
In Jacksonville, the program took three months to install. A
competitor was still struggling to implement its program in
New York after two years. While Jade adapted its program to
suit the customers, the New York program required the port
authority to change its practices.
''Our program is easy to explain and take them through it. We
can show what the product can do.''
While competitors could cope with providing a container
ship's cargo with one ID number, Jade's strength was in
enabling the cargo to be broken up into pallets, cases or
anything that went on to a ship in a container.
Different customers could then track their own cargo.
Mr Lindsay praised Port Otago's help in developing the
software as the port was a mixed cargo port and Jade and the
port company had developed ''deep collaboration''.
Sir Gil Simpson founded Aoraki Software, followed by Linc, in
Christchurch around 35 years ago. Sir Gil's philosophy was
taking software to the world and the philosophy had not
changed, Mr Lindsay said.
The company encouraged innovation from its staff to bring
''what-if'' solutions to the discussion. A solution might
work for one customer and, with some tweaking, could work for
another customer with a complex problem to solve.
''We have a short, tight and easy process to run through. We
want to encourage innovation. We have been doing that for 35
years and we won't be stopping. Staff morale will be high if
they feel they can come up with the next big thing. It's
While Jade attracted innovative people to its doors, Mr
Lindsay worried that skilled people were in short supply. He
did not believe the education system was ''really pushing''
IT for pupils and students.
''Primary schools do a good job but it dies at high school.
And they don't follow through at university. It's a lot
easier overseas, to be honest.''
Jade also made an effort to hold on to the staff it had. It
has staff training, but not as you would expect it to be.
The human resources programme runs pilates and yoga classes,
boxing and car racing and a few people jump out of planes.
Those situations were used to break down barriers between
Jade was flexible with its working hours, allowing parents to
look after children, for instance. But with mobile access and
broadband, staff were online anytime.
''We love to read emails and work. It is hard to switch off.
Our work style is constantly to work and we need to make that
work for families.''