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Reality Check: Designer Wardrobe's Summer Collins

Reality Check: Designer Wardrobe's Summer Collins

As part of Idealog's Technology Month, we've picked the brains of some of the movers and shakers in the industry to find out their favourite tech-related things, their biggest fears for the future and what other companies and individuals inspire their work. Here's Designer Wardrobe CEO Summer Collins.

What’s your favourite…

Technology you can’t live without?

My phone and a decent broadband connection - so basic, but without this, you can’t get anything achieved.

Underrated or old technology?

The timer on my phone - works wonders when trying to get my four-year-old to go to sleep!

New Zealand tech company or individual in that space that’s doing seriously cool things?

I loved reading about Thematic and what they are trying to do with text analytics - anything that makes it easier for businesses to truly understand what people want from their product is awesome. Coming from a research background, I feel like this industry needs to change and think differently, which I think the guys at Thematic are doing really well.

Global tech company or individual in that space that’s doing seriously cool things?

Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder of and Amazon. I had the most incredible experience with them a month ago - I paid for express delivery and they missed the promised date. I sent one email asking for an update, they responded within six hours and by the time they refunded my delivery cost,  the items were already on my doorstep. I was seriously impressed at how they used tech to turn around a bad customer experience so quickly.

Tech project or product you’ve had a hand in?

I’m biased, but the upcoming improvements we’re making on the Designer Wardrobe platform are pretty awesome. Watch this space! It’s fantastic to see such a growing appetite for buying, selling and renting designer clothing online in New Zealand.

Tech project or product that isn’t yours, but you’re envious of?

Anything Google. I love how they are continually using data to improve their customer experience. I can’t wait to see where they go with GoogleTrips and how they could improve the very complex online travel ecosystem.

What first drew you to this industry?

I’ve always had a love for data and that ended up translating into a love for tech as I got to understand data more and more. The fact that this industry moves fast is also a massive drawcard for me, there’s always a better way to do things just around the corner.

What do you enjoy the most about working in tech?

The blending of creativity and technology - if you get the right minds together you can always figure out a smarter way to deliver what customers want.

How would you describe New Zealand’s tech culture?

Fast and fun, so many people doing cool things and so many amazing people to learn from.

Where does inspiration come from for you?

Talking to people and finding out how they think and what makes them tick - especially with Designer Wardrobe, as all my friends are now also potential customers. One thing I have learned is that people don’t think the same, and often asking the most obvious questions can lead to a new idea or opportunity.  

Reality check

How has tech impacted on your work? How will it impact on it in the future?

Tech has changed so much since I started working as an analyst  – we used to get print-outs of data tables and manually enter them into PowerPoint charts and then get insights from that – nowadays, the speed in which you can get data extracted and change your strategy or tactics is now minutes, not months.

What’s been the most concerning change that technology has made to human behaviour, in your experience?

Too many hours spent by people hunched over their mobile phones and computers rather than focusing on real interactions with colleagues, friends and family.

How would you describe your relationship with technology? Do you think you’re addicted to any form of it?

Yes - I’m addicted to a lot! I’ve actually just deleted my Facebook app and only look at it on desktop once in a while and it’s been liberating.

Do you think social media is a blessing or a curse?

Both. It’s incredible to be able to communicate and stay in touch with so much more available than ever before, but you need time to switch off and just enjoy the simple things too. It’s all too easy to waste hours you could be spending doing something better.

Do you think technology needs more laws surrounding it, or a form of resource consent regulation?

That’s a tough one - I think that more laws would stifle creativity, but then on the other hand you can’t trust everyone to do good, not evil with new tech. And everyone’s viewpoints on what is good is different too.   

What needs to be done to tackle the diversity issue in tech?

More education in schools and universities about what a career in tech can look like. I think people get scared off without understanding the different avenues that a career in tech can offer up.

What worries you the most about technology?

That with the complexity of tech it’s easier to forget about the most important thing - how to deliver something people need and care about.

What’s your scariest prediction for the future? Will the robots kill us all?

No way! Although I do think that things will change a lot as a result of AI. We still have a long way to go, and I’m hoping that we learn how to effectively utilise this technology like we have with so many other advances over the years.

What will New Zealand look like as a country in 2037?

I would love to see us as a global leader in tech with little old New Zealand and solving some of the big problems in health, equality and sustainability. For example  – using New Zealand mobile tech innovations for early diagnosis in health, more social projects, like Spark Jump, helping NZ kids access technology early in life, and more online platforms like Designer Wardrobe increasing the lifespan of consumer goods.