Making the right impression

Canberra still doesn't understand the importance of ICT to all aspects of Australian life and development

The team has been chosen for the 2020 Summit. When Canberra plays host to 1000 participants on April 19 and 20, the ICT industry (our industry), will be represented by a mere handful of people.

Where are our flag wavers?

Canberra has far too little appreciation that ICT drives innovation, growth, and prosperity across many sectors. ICT's contributions to breakthroughs in areas such as genomics, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, imaging, healthcare, communications, entertainment, education, and financial services, to name a few, are still not well understood or accepted.

ICT is transforming the way we live, learn, work, and play. Advances in computing and communications technology are creating new infrastructures for business, scientific research, and social interaction. ICT will provide a vehicle for economic growth. ICT will improve the quality of healthcare and will make government more responsive to the needs of our citizens. This time around, even with the economy looking like a major threat, ICT has generated little heat with our political leaders.

For our leaders to get the message, our associations must quickly get together and speak with a powerful unified voice. Currently we have nearly as many industry associations as the United States, and they are all clamouring for attention from the various state and federal decision-makers. Sometimes they say the same thing, sometimes not. Over the last two decades the flow of communication has risen to tidal wave proportions, and now we also have the Web providing a home base for a multitude of "experts" on virtually every topic.

Development of Australia's ICT future is important for many reasons. Globally, companies are facing many problems. Products are becoming more complicated and customised. Product time to market is shrinking. Product life is shortening. A short-term focus is also reducing investment funding. There is increased competition from around the world and that is leading to further cutbacks.

The range of ICT-related concerns facing policy-makers has increased dramatically in recent years: communications, infrastructure, procurement for government automation, e government programs, intellectual property, government-sponsored research projects, incubators and technology parks, and education investment.

While the creation of ICT support policies is complicated by their broad-ranging impact on business, government, and the public in general, the bottom line is that support for the ICT industry is an integral component of Australia's economic development agenda and truly worthy of its own summit -- a summit at which industry luminaries selected from the ICT entrepreneurs, leading vendors, major users, industry associations, and development agencies can share their insights and discuss the latest issues and trends in the ICT areas of Australia's industry development.

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report.

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