Founded back in 1992 by Executive Chairman and majority shareholder, Neil Butler, Optimation is one of New Zealand's longest-standing, locally owned IT companies.
While business has gone through seismic shifts, we've been right in the thick of it, from mainframes to cloud computing, from 'portables' that weighed in at 10 kilos to smartphones, and from paper-based systems to online anytime, anywhere. We've seen our share of ups and downs, but as testament to our business culture and capabilities, many of our original customers and some of our original staff are still with us today.
Here are just a few highlights from 25 years of making the possible real for our customers, partners, and great team of Optimates.
From small beginnings
The 1990s was a boom time for IT as businesses sought to extend legacy environments and reduce costs with new 'open systems' technologies. Neil spotted a promising niche providing expertise on complex projects with significant networking and security requirements. Optimation was soon up and running with a small but dedicated team who could offer closer relationships and a better understanding of the needs of New Zealand-scale businesses than the multi-nationals.
Our first client: Inland Revenue
The first work we did with Inland Revenue was transformational, implementing our own Unix-based software to connect new open systems networks to mainframe computers and dramatically lower the department's costs. Neil and his team went on to gain a reputation for top-end consulting and implementation skills at marquee clients like Air New Zealand, New Zealand Post, the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand and Westpac. The company's close-knit culture and business successes attracted top local and international talent.
Early successes provide a strong legacy
During the early stages of our development, we were fortunate to work with major New Zealand organisations, developing our skills and some solid relationships for the future. Major customer projects highlighted the growing trend to online business and gave Optimation a crucial proving ground to build its core skills in complex enterprise development and integration.
Vodafone burst onto the New Zealand scene in 1998. We've been involved with the company almost from its inception and have delivered thousands of projects with the Vodafone team. Our services have included consulting, architecture, development, integration, and testing expertise for everything from complex integration of IT and back-end telco systems to customer-facing web and mobile applications.
New Zealand Post
We provided online billing and transaction engines for one of the first local companies to enable customers to pay bills over the Internet.
We developed and continue to support DeskBank, a secure business banking platform that processes tens of millions of dollars in payments every day.
Through boom times and bust
The worldwide IT industry greeted the new millennium with vigour, riding a dot.com boom that was fuelled by the seemingly bottomless pockets of venture capitalists. But like all bubbles, this one eventually burst and the fallout was made worse by the sustained slump that followed 9/11.
With recovery came a more pragmatic approach: businesses were over the flashy websites and empty dot.com promises. They now saw the web as a crucial tool to help reduce costs while improving customer service and getting to market faster. Air New Zealand stands as the classic example, experiencing its own renaissance as it stormed back from near-collapse to become the most successful e-business New Zealand has ever seen. We're proud to have been part of the Air New Zealand story through our work with the Air New Zealand Ventures team, responsible for ground-breaking solutions like the airline's online booking portal and Grabaseat.
Some of our recent successes
Australian Department of Defence
Our enterprise intelligence and content intelligence solutions for the Royal Australian Navy and the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group are helping the Department of Defence to increase inter-agency visibility and accountability, manage complex risks, and support innovation.
Department Of Corrections
Since 2010, Optimation has delivered the Department’s Application Development, Maintenance and Support services in one of New Zealand’s largest outsourcing engagements.
Under a multi-year Master Services Agreement (MSA), Optimation provides software support and maintenance across a large portfolio of Meridian’s business applications. We are also a preferred partner for additional software development and integration work and capex projects.
Ministry of Education
In a multi-million dollar software development engagement, we were selected by the NZ Ministry of Education to design and deliver a new school transport resourcing administration system (STRAS)
Pioneering partnerships and innovative ventures
Throughout Optimation's 25-year history, we have pioneered partnering relationships, built a product development business, and successfully nurtured international joint ventures.
In 2014, we launched Mentum Systems, which is working with leading Australian public and private sector organisations including the Royal Australian Navy. The same year, we formed a global joint venture to create eLife, a ground-breaking platform for the life insurance market that enables online real-time application, underwriting, and policy fulfillment. We are now working with leading providers, distributors, agency networks, and global re-insurers in the US and Asia.
In 2016, we launched Presto Resourcing Options, which combines deep IT recruitment and resourcing expertise with our knowledge of what it takes to deliver successful IT solutions.
Optimation has strategic partnerships with leading vendors such as Google, Smartlogic, ThoughtWeb, and Amazon Cloud Services. Through these partnerships, we support our IP-led solutions with a range of enabling technologies that deliver rapid innovation and improved business performance.
We were also early to sense the potential in the burgeoning IT industry in the Indian sub-continent, developing our first off-shore relationship in 2001. This formed the foundations for our current strategic partnership with HCL. This relationship enables us to offer customers the scale and cost-efficiencies of on-shore/off-shore delivery, while maintaining NZ-based governance and relationship management.
Looking to the future
Looking back at the huge variety of projects we've completed we see that many things have changed, not least the technologies we work with and the way they are used. However, one thing remains the same, and that is the strong bonds we've formed with the people who form a vital part of our legacy. We continue to enjoy enduring relationships with our customers, many of whom have been with us since the early days. Our longest-serving employee has been with the company for nearly 20 years, and many Optimates have been with us beyond five and even 10 years - a virtual lifetime in the IT industry.