Some have unkindly suggested the NZ Computer Society gave David Cunliffe a retirement present last week, appointing the ICT Minister an honorary fellow of the society at a time when the Labour party and the government it leads are sliding in the polls.
However, the society is politically “colour-blind”, President Don Robertson insists. Cunliffe “is being recognised for his actions, not his politics”, he told the assembled NZCS members.
Cunliffe has “tackled the problems of ICT head-on”, steering anti-spam legislation, unbundling of the local loop and the evolution of the Digital Strategy, Robertson says.
“He’s given us a benchmark and sees what we can deliver. Now it’s time for us to take up that challenge.”
Cunliffe says he shares the Computer Society’s vision of a true profession — one of which any parent will be proud when their daughter tells them her new fiancé works in ICT — and in due course that status may be recognised by a salary more commensurate with that of a doctor or lawyer.
Alluding to the Digital Development Council and Forum, Cunliffe says the NZCS identified the problems with previous efforts to unify the industry and is now behind the new plan.
The challenge, he says, is not just for the ICT sector but for the whole of business. The debate is no longer about technology, he says, it’s turning to “how we improve business models”.
Coining a new piece of shorthand, Cunliffe promises “Digital 2” — the second iteration of the Digital Strategy — will be published in August.
The outlook for ICT-enabled business is “hugely bright”, he says.
Cunliffe joins a select company, as the 20th Honorary Fellow — others include ICT industry luminary Sir Gil Simpson and former ASB Bank and Air New Zealand chief Ralph Norris.