Tech giant Amazon has launched a new programme allowing small and medium businesses in New Zealand to try more than 200 cloud services.
New Zealand is among the first countries to access Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lift programme, which also runs in Singapore, Philippines, Australia and Japan.
It is designed to support businesses “try out over 200 AWS cloud services using the most extensive global cloud infrastructure and deepest functionality”.
“Small-medium businesses (SMBs) are incredibly important to the New Zealand economy and we’re looking at a variety of ways to invest with them,” AWS New Zealand manager Tiffany Bloomquist said.
The business will be charged a minimum of $1 and any services up to US$83,500 in a year are credited back to customers.
Last month, the Herald reported on Amazon’s data centres coming to Tāmaki Makaurau, which Bloomquist said will give SMBs access to vital data.
“We think there are amazing ideas and really innovative IP [intellectual property] in New Zealand and we feel deeply that technology can unlock some of that, not just to benefit New Zealanders but also to export a lot of that out to the world.”
She said Amazon hopes its $7.5 billion investment in Aotearoa will create “about a thousand new jobs” over the next 15 years and generate about $10.8b for the national GDP.
“With the launch of AWS Lift, SMBs have the opportunity to experiment and use AWS Cloud with pay-as-you-go options, improve operational efficiency, and pursue growth while keeping costs low,” the company said.
University of Auckland School of Business’s Rod McNaughton said the trial period is likely part of AWS’ strategy to get more customers.
“They will be looking to eventually lock firms into services and generate ongoing revenue from them. It takes time and training to ‘experiment’ in the cloud and change business processes to use cloud services,” McNaughton said.
McNaughton said Auckland’s data centres are primarily to provide services to large corporations and government departments concerned about data sovereignty.
“More SMEs using cloud services will add another revenue segment, but they have small data requirements so they won’t require much additional infrastructure,” he said.
He said while Amazon is the world leader in cloud services, AWS holds about a third of the total cloud service market with its primary competitors Google and Microsoft Azure.
Much like Lift, Azure gives customers access to compute and data storage, artificial intelligence (AI), security and encryption, and cloud migration.
Microsoft’s Gretta Svendsen said, “We recognise that every SMB has unique needs. They’re all different businesses, so we allow them to create and build their own stack using technology designed for their specific requirements.”
Bloomquist said Amazon’s research into Kiwi SMBs showed over 80 per cent were very negatively affected by inflation, supply chain constraints and skill shortages.
“AWS was in a great position to help, so we’ve responded to that with the Lift programme,” she said.
“We realised the concept makes sense to a lot of people practically, being able to experiment with cloud services and have some of those costs covered, especially in your first year, really helps them understand how they could really use it.”
Bloomquist said Lift customers will have access to AWS’ data storage, computing power, cloud databases and other services.
“We have everything from the basic kind of storage and computer services all the way to AI, advanced analytics, the internet of things where you have a bunch of devices that you can connect and actually see data around,” she said.
“Most small businesses tend to have a server under their desk and we want to make sure that they have better security as well as encryption of their data, which helps protect them as they’re scaling up.”
McNaughton said that firms should keep in mind that AWS is not an independent adviser and has services that it eventually wants to sell.
SMBs in New Zealand have a low rate of digital adoption compared to leading economies, giving AWS and their service partners “a lot of potential new customers”, he added.
As the company’s customer acquisition is the most expensive part of their business model, he said the offer could be “a cost-effective way to recruit customers”.
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air