NZICT chairman says tech industry must show its worth

Vendor group boosts engagement with government

The chairman of the NZICT Group, Cisco managing director Geoff Lawrie, pushed members to demonstrate the value ICT can deliver at the vendor group's end of year meeting on Friday. Wrapping up the first year of NZICT's activity, Lawrie said the group had made a dozen submissions to government around diverse areas of policy. He also praised the government for its determination to push ahead with its planned $1.5 billion ultra fast broadband initiative. "While all of us who work in this industry share a religious faith in the linkage between ICT investments and better business outcomes, we do need to acknowledge that this is not a universally held view," Lawrie said. "We do need to do more work to make sure that every single person in this country understands the value of ICT and its ability to drive a more prosperous future for this country and a better lifestyle for its citizens, so these key issues will remain our focus as we go into next year." Speaking ahead of ICT minister Steven Joyce, Lawrie said government has played a significant role in the industry over the past year, especially in delivering improved broadband services.

"This is a really important point for us at this time, as there are a lot of people popping up at the moment displaying a frightening lack of foresight around this issue, and are seemingly content to let New Zealand wallow in a technology backwater while the rest of the world accelerates further ahead using already proven models for how you leverage this kind of infrastructure to support productivity and innovation initiatives," he said. It is now time for the debate to move forward, Lawrie said, and to shift from how we build a fibre network to how it is used. "One of the reasons why there are still people out there who have doubts about the value of the investment we are making in broadband is because we have not done a good enough job as an industry in helping people understand what it will really mean to live in a broadband enabled world — to really understand what it means for how and where they will work, how they will connect and collaborate with others, how they will educate and entertain themselves and, importantly, how they will engage with government for the delivery of citizen services." Lawrie said membership of NZICT Group has grown from 30 to 80 member organisations, including "pretty much every influential and active organisation in our industry". He said there were dozens of issues that NZICT has been asked to engage on. It has settled on a single vision — to use ICT skills and capabilities to drive our country’s global competitiveness — and agreed on five work streams linked to that outcome. At the event, NZICT released a paper outlining its recommended near-term priorities and presented this to the minister. Lawrie says the most important aspect of the paper is that the industry has signalled its willingness to step up and directly engage with the government. "We have suggested a format for this — a working group from the industry working directly with the Government Technology Services group in DIA to to develop a programme for improving public sector ICT efficiency, and to look at how we form an Expert Advisory group that works with the government to get the best outcomes from ICT investment projects," Lawrie said.

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