CBA's Murray attacks IT industry

The information technology industry has failed to deliver on promises, according to the managing director of one of Australia's largest banks.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia managing director David Murray said the Bank and other IT users had "some serious issues" with the industry.

He said the United States' IT industry had "single-handedly wrecked the world economy over the last couple of years".

Murray singled out Microsoft for particular criticism, saying the IT giant had failed to deliver its promises.

In his address to the World Congress on IT (WCIT) in Adelaide, Murray said promised productivity gains had not been felt from the use of IT.

"It has done enormous things for our institution but it is not as straightforward as people make out. Microsoft ... said that IT was going to lead the growth of the world economy," Murray said. "Let me tell you that the IT industry in the United States has single-handedly wrecked the world economy over the last couple of years. That's because the promises were large and by the time they were turned into investor promises at the casino end of the equity market, then the investments that were made were entirely unrealistic."

Murray compared the situation of the car in Australia about 50 years ago to the broadband demands of the IT industry today.

"If Henry Ford or Alfred Sloane, the General Motors man, had come to Australia 50 years ago and told the government we have to put out eight lane highways all over this country ... they would have been told to go home.

"The issue is that we might put out the eight lane highway but unless the stuff we put on it is far easier to use, and it delivers the productivity benefits somewhere near what we are promised, then this generally applicable technology will not do for our society what we want."

Murray questioned if Australia has been so bad in laying out its broadband, "how come we have the highest productivity gain in the OECD in the last decade?

"I think we have to take a breath here. We should not be confused about why we are using technology: it's about fulfilling customer needs, its about providing productivity and a shareholder return and enhancing the existing business strategy. If it doesn't meet these tests, then question its value."

Murray also said the promise of a paperless office was "an incredible myth".

"The same technology that was supposed to make us paperless has allowed the proliferation of papers in various forms that has limited productivity," he said.

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