Industry umbrella group NZICT has turned criticism of its Near Future Digital Priorities report (Computerworld, December 7, 2009) to good account, identifying a need for more research, particularly on the structure of the local ICT business and opportunities in the market.
“When we published the report, some critics said our conclusions weren’t supported by available research,” says NZICT head Brett O’Riley. They had a point, he acknowledges; there is a shortage of accessible research results on ICT in New Zealand.
Accordingly, the lobby group is getting together with others and founding an ICT Research Forum.
Research on the business of ICT is obviously done already, but in a scattered way, some financed by government directly, some in academia and some by private industry. But this means it is not fully co-ordinated and there are probably holes in some areas and duplication in others, says O’Riley.
“We aim at bringing the parties together to improve focus on the right areas, and ensure the dollars available for research are spent in a coherent way.”
Other parties to the effort include Auckland ICT — a cluster of small-to-medium-sized Auckland firms founded in 2003 — and the International Institute for Software Economics, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an international confederation of software development companies and researchers.
The Forum will seek to involve other regional ICT clusters in New Zealand, O’Riley says.
A preparatory meeting was held in December in Auckland and the Forum will be officially launched at a function on January 28 at Microsoft’s Auckland office. A Wellington meeting is planned for February.
Although reaction to the Digital Priorities paper again emphasised the need for research “the issue has been bubbling around probably since NZICT started”, O’Riley says.
NZICT has promoted itself as a fact-based organisation that would “cut through the hype” of the ICT market and the Research Forum will help it make good on that promise, he says.
Finding productive uses for the bandwidth offered by the projected Ultra-Fast Broadband network stands out as a particularly high priority for targeted research, O’Riley says. NZICT is already involved with TVNZ in a series of programmes that will interview businesses already making productive use of broadband.
Although much of the research co-ordinated by the Forum will be into industry structure and markets, O’Riley says there may be opportunities for more co-ordinated funding of technical research too.