Australian ICT industry sentiment strong for 2008

Growth in sales and profits expected

Australia's ICT industry is confident of strong growth in sales, profits and recruitment in 2008, according to the latest KPMG and Communications Alliance six-monthly ICT Industry Pulse Survey released today.

The only area showing signs of ambivalence is around the business benefits of Web 2.0 applications.

Undertaken by research firm Telsyte in the week prior to last month's federal election, the survey results differ from the inaugural ICT Industry Pulse Survey conducted in June, 2007.

Communications Alliance CEO Anne Hurley said that because these results were taken just before the Rudd Government was elected, it would be very interesting to see how sentiment changed in the next six months.

"For the first time in our history, ICT was a major issue in a federal election and the incoming government has unveiled an extensive program of initiatives that seem to have captured the attention of the Australian public," Hurley said.

"As those initiatives begin to roll out, we will be able to gauge their impact on our industry through successive surveys."

KPMG's head of communications sector Malcolm Alder said the latest survey found that senior ICT industry participants remained confident about prospects for both their organisation and the industry as a whole next year.

In key areas such as expectations for sales, profit, recruitment and sector growth, all indicators were in positive territory.

"Senior people in the ICT sector remain confident and in growth mode as we look forward to 2008," Alder said.

"Although slightly down from six months ago, respondents' levels of optimism were all still ahead of their expectations 12 months ago.

"Not surprisingly immediately prior to an election, respondents from commercial organisations were more positive in their expectations than those respondents employed in government or regulatory areas."

On the specially surveyed area of Web2.0, there were some interesting findings. While respondents expect use of Web2.0 applications to increase in the next 12-18 months, respondents are yet to be convinced of their business benefits.

For a clear majority of ICT respondents' organisations, Web2.0 applications are not yet part of mainstream business operations, particularly if media and software companies and content providers are excluded.

"Bearing in mind our respondents are drawn from the ICT sector, Australian business more broadly probably still has a bit of an education and experimentation phase to go through before Web2.0 becomes truly mainstream across many industry sectors," Alder said.

"However, at a time when appropriate corporate policies and approaches on access to social networking sites such as Facebook from the workplace are being hotly debated, it was interesting to note that there was a clear view that such access does not adversely affect productivity.

"We believe this may reflect a general view that the great majority of staff will naturally adopt sensible use and that in some cases, access to Web2.0 tools does have discernible and positive business-specific outcomes."

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