Forum: Here we go, here we go, here we go again

To kick the year off, we already have a bit of biff, with local buyers crying foul over pricing

It’s a bright shiny new year, untarnished and unsullied by the ruck and maul of the ICT industry. Half of you will still be at the beach as I write this, but you can already feel business gearing up again.

This promises to be an interesting year. One of the big drivers of ICT activity in New Zealand has been government spending, but with an election looming we could see that change. If government departments are expecting a change of government, they might decide to spend up, or sign up contracts now to lock in projects before any handover.

My guess is it will be business as usual for most of this year with prospects for next year much more uncertain.

Government is also pondering spending on the industry development front. It recently released a trio of tenders looking at areas where New Zealand is perceived to have the inside running in developing high value technologies.

One of these is JAIN SLEE, a Java-based technology used mainly to integrate disparate applications in the telecommunications industry at high speed. Local company OpenCloud has led the way with that and is now selling its middleware internationally. The opportunity is in developing applications and taking the technology into new areas.

Also of note is the fact that most of this activity is coming out of Wellington. It has struck me quite recently that Wellington really is becoming the new ICT hub of New Zealand. I guess that’s what an early investment in quality broadband and an activist local council can achieve.

To some extent that is a slap in the face for Auckland, which has always fancied itself as the commercial driving force of New Zealand, but has been pretty laggardly in putting infrastructure in place to back that up.

Another one to watch will be the international economy. The US looks more and more likely to experience a genuine recession off the back of its sub-prime mortgage debacle and that will spill around the world to some extent.

However, Asia is still booming along, as is China, and we are well positioned to take advantage of that — and in a lot more than just dairy exports.

This year, we will also get to see how the operational separation of Telecom shapes up. The network has a new identity and all the right noises are being made, but we’ll be looking for more than just noise.

We’ll be expecting improved services and better value for money: Faster, cheaper broadband, in fact. Isn’t that a catchy phrase? Faster, cheaper mobile as well, please.

And, to kick the year off, we already have a bit of biff, with local buyers crying foul over pricing. Given the strength of the kiwi dollar, a reasonable person might expect international vendors to drop their prices a bit.

Anyway, we will be exploring these and many other themes throughout the year. Stay tuned while your tans wear off.

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