Feature: Challenges and opportunities

Industry leaders pick their 2008 highlights and predictions for 2009

1. The new sector leaders

Steven Joyce, minister for ICT

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

The public endorsement of National’s ambitious fibre-to-the-home election pledge shows that New Zealanders are hungry to access the ultra-fast broadband services needed to secure New Zealand’s global competitive advantage.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. Businesses will turn to technology to help them through the current tough economic conditions to innovate, lower costs and reach new customers.

2. Demand for skilled ICT staff will continue; most companies will still be seeking to fill significant vacancies.

3. Consumers will benefit from increased competition between ICT suppliers, especially mobile carriers.

Clare Curran, Labour ICT spokeswoman

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

Highlight for me: becoming Labour’s communications and IT spokesperson and having the chance to learn more about this sector, which is very dynamic and important to our country’s future.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. National will cancel the previous Labour government’s Broadband Investment Fund round even though the projects are well advanced.

2. The new National government won’t find it easy to translate its ambitious broadband policy into a workable plan.

3. Services will keep getting cheaper and better as competition beds in, thanks in part to the new regulatory framework and Telecom’s operational separation, but investment will be a struggle for some industry players given the fallout of the financial crisis.

2. Industry leaders pick their 2008 highlights and predictions for 2009

Don Christie, president, New Zealand Open Source Society

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

Standards NZ rejection of OOXML as a suitable ISO standard. SSC’s decision to release the Government Portal under a GPL licence.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. New Zealand negotiators disable the NZ software industry in their trade negotiations with the USA.

2. FOSS (free and open source software) is the “beat the credit crunch” choice of smart CIOs.

Andrew Crabb, CIO, TelstraClear

NZ ICT highlight of 2008

Internally, TelstraClear completed a major migration to a single billing system that is faster and has future functionality options. It was a massive project that involved co-ordinating 40 stakeholders across the business with more than 57,000 working hours clocked in making the change.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. A move to content and “in the cloud” applications rather than the delivery technology. SME businesses in particular will start to look at buying online solutions rather than setting up costly in-house infrastructure.

2. Heavier data-intensive business applications as the need for data volumes will continue to grow exponentially.

3. With the current economy, expect decisions over the next six to 12 months to be focused on price more than capability. Innovation in many companies will temporarily take a backseat but businesses will also realise that telecommunications can reduce the overall cost of business.

Keith Davidson, executive director, InternetNZ:

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

The flourishing competitive market due to telecommunications regulatory reforms, including the operational and accounting separation of Telecom.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. The biggest impact will come from decisions made by the new government with regards to its election promise of $1.5 billion investment in broadband infrastructure.

2. Ongoing regulatory reforms in the telecommunications arena and increasing competition, hopefully resulting in higher quality of service and better pricing for connecting to the internet.

3. The alternate international cable will not proceed so, we will keep paying comparatively high prices for international bandwidth due to lack of real competition, but on this I hope I’m wrong.

Brett Hodgson, managing director, Unisys New Zealand

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

2008 was the year in which after 15 years of PC hegemony, a combination of energy, environmental and security concerns brought datacentres to the forefront of IT.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. Businesses will focus on technologies that can deliver measurable return on investments and cost efficiencies via an increasingly centralised IT approach in 2009.

2. Automating infrastructure management in a virtualised environment will enable businesses to make their operations more responsive, flexible and competitive.

3. Greater take up of on-demand technology delivery models will provide flexibility as businesses pay only for what they use. For example, Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud computing and utility computing services such as metered storage.

Ullrich Loeffler, programme manager ANZ software and services, IDC

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

The year the NZ Telecommunications market went “off-piste”. The pace and scale of investment, structural change and competition has been unprecedented — the follow-through and execution of this reformation path will define New Zealand’s play in a fundamentally transforming ICT services market.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. New Zealand IT spending will take a dip but also bottom during 2009. The economic downturn will reduce growth in IT spending to 3.0% during 2009 before reaching the recovery path in late 2009. IT spending growth is expected to regain strength in 2010 (4.7%) and will fully recover in 2012/2013 with growth above 6%.

2. Forced and opportunistic consolidation will spike in 2009 — supported by the economic situation. Technology companies which saw their market capitalisation wiped off will represent easy prey for bargain hunters with healthy balance sheets. Other markets such as telecommunications will experience forced consolidation/alliances.

3. Despite the market confusion about the pros and cons of SaaS and cloud computing frameworks — they will grow in consideration due to their valuable benefit of low capital investments combined with usage-based pricing — both highly relevant during a time of economic downturn.

Chris Quin, CEO, Gen-i

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

2008 saw an enormous investment in high speed data, that is fibre, our new 3G mobile network and the infrastructure behind them. This puts in place the core for converged ICT solutions.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. It’s still about a focus on business basics — in an economic downturn the challenge is to retain clients by investing in people and creating an organisation-wide culture of earning client preference.

2. Software as a Service will really come of age — enabling key infrastructure and applications to be provided in-house or “as a service” over a network.

3. Demand for sustainable computing solutions that assist businesses by reducing IT energy consumption and fossil fuel consumption, and improving management of asset lifecycles and e-waste.

Juha Saarinen, columnist and blogger

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

The 3G iPhone finally arrived and turned the mobile phone industry upside down for real. NZ got some of the world’s stupidest copyright legislation as well, which could potentially kill off internet business here.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. Social media will drive internet technology and business everywhere, and it’s interesting to see how the simple solutions are the most popular ones, like Twitter.

2. Google will run smack bang into its first privacy and monopolist lawsuits. This is inevitable.

3. Due to point one above, hardware will adjust accordingly: small, robust network enabled devices that are fast to type on and good for browsing the internet will rule. Whether they’ll be called Netbooks or UMPCs or whatever isn’t important.

Katrina Troughton, managing director, IBM NZ

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

The news that the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer at the University of Canterbury has been running at capacity all year, working on everything from medical research to weather prediction, and is being used by researchers from all around New Zealand as well as from all over the world.

ICT predictions for 2009

Technology will play a significant role in helping New Zealand emerge from the current economic turmoil by enabling companies to make significant improvements in the way they operate.

It will continue to improve our lives and the world we live in by creating more “intelligent” systems that help us make better decisions — for example, smart utility meters that help us better manage our energy consumption, or smart traffic systems that help us better manage traffic flows.

Doug Wilson, CIO NZ AA

NZ ICT highlight for 2008

The announcement by Telecom regarding its new mobile network — some competition at last in the GSM space.

ICT predictions for 2009

1. Traffic information will be the hot application.

2. Microsoft licensing will get easier to understand (not).

3. National will rethink its broadband policy.

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