Australia's bid to be an offshore provider stalls

When it comes to leadership and vision, it's in short supply in Australia's ICT industry which is why the country has failed to be seen as an attractive offshoring destination by the rest of the world.

While Australia has the capacity, it is failing to deliver, according to Australian Computer Society NSW chairman Kumar Parakala, who is also chairman of the committee organizing the South East Asian Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) 2005 conference in September.

Parakala said the time has come for Australians to learn from the success of its neighbours.

"India has emerged as a major outsourcing destination in the last decade, but Australia can compete in this space, particularly in the area of analytics," he said.

"Globally, Australia also has the capacity to excel in some of the niche market areas of IT risk management, project management and IT governance.

"Offshoring provides an opportunity for countries like Australia to specialize in core competencies."

Parakala added that there are sometimes wide gaps between Australian and South East Asian ICT practitioners in understanding mutual strengths - something the SEARCC 2005 conference is attempting to resolve.

To be held at the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre from September 28 to 30, SEARCC incorporates six leading ICT events under the one umbrella bringing together more than 600 IT professionals from the region.

IDC's Asia Pacific associate director for services Phil Hassey agreed that leadership was a problem but laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the federal government.

He said the government has failed to capitalize on Australia's advantages including the stable political climate and educated workforce.

"Can Australia become a low-cost centre for processing data? Of course not. But we can pitch ourselves as a high-end country providing key capabilities to other markets," Hassey said.

"We cannot be an India, but we can exploit the fact that more languages are spoken here than in any other part of the world.

"New Zealand, Singapore and Canada are doing a lot more in terms of promoting themselves as an offshoring destination but the Australian government has failed dismally at doing this.

"It is not an impossible task but you have to have the vision to do it."

ICT event of the year

SEARRC 2005, which will be held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from September 28 to 30, incorporates the South East Asian Regional Computer Federation annual conference and five other leading ICT events. Taking the theme, ICT - Building Bridges, it will be the year's biggest event in town for CIOs and ICT practitioners, with more than 60 sessions from both local and international business leaders. For registration go to www.searcc05.com.au.

SEARCC 2005 is being organized by IDG on behalf of SEARCC and the Australian Computer Society.

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