It's easy when you're in a high-pressure job such as IT management to avoid industry and community involvement. Who the hell has the time?
Avoiding active politics is understandable; you're much too real and practical to be involved in all that fluff. But when issues arise where an understanding of IT knowledge and skills will really make a difference to our society, then may I humbly suggest you are obliged to be involved.
The federal government's recent innovation statement is a classic example. Politicians are being pumped from all sides, including multinationals, local business leaders, scientists, academics and educationalists. And they're being swayed by the winds of election year.
The decisions they are making with regards to Australia's future IT capability are far-reaching. As practitioners of IT you are a part of the group of people best placed to understand what the industry is capable, or not capable, of. Your country needs you.
As an expression of this understanding you have to hand it to groups such as the Australian Computer Society, which has tirelessly pushed for government support in developing a knowledge economy. But when you see its president, John Ridge, quoted here and there don't just sit back and say, "they've got it in hand". That's the sort of approach that will lead to a mediocre result, and missed opportunity, for Australia.
In a recent conversation Ridge discussed with me how the influence of the ACS has risen substantially in recent years, and this would apply across other user groups. The Australian Telecommunications User Group is another that has built its profile well.
You involvement may start slowly in gaining an understanding of the issues. However, my experience is that amongst IT managers, opinions come thick and fast. So now really is the time to jump on board with representative groups such as these. Now is the time for you, as IT managers and professionals, to get involved with your peers and put that extensive knowledge and IT perspective to wider use.
You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, for publication unless otherwise noted.