New umbrella ICT group '100% pure'

Unified organisation seen as key to promoting a single Kiwi IT brand

An umbrella group for the New Zealand information communications technology industry has been set up with the aimed of developing the industry and branding New Zealand as technically excellent, as well as "100% pure".

ICT-New Zealand, as it is called, has been in the making since August and starts life with nine members. It will focus on the day-to-day development of the industry. But it will also be linked with NZ Trade and Enterprise’s “New Thinking” initiative, which aims to brand New Zealand as more than just the familiar land-use “100% Pure” brand.

The nine founder members are: the NZ Software Association; the Information Technology Association of New Zealand (ITANZ); ICONZ; Health IT cluster; Canterbury ICT cluster; Canterbury Software; the NZ Computer Society; the NZ Wireless Forum and InternetNZ.

ICT-NewZealand's chairman-elect is Malcolm Fraser, who is the vice-president of the Wireless Forum and was chosen from single delegates put up by each founder-member organisation. The new umbrella body is already talking to two further industry associations, Incubator NZ and Unlimited Potential, about joining.

Fraser said a unified organisation would be able to project a single brand for New Zealand ICT. This will make for a less confusing image for overseas organisations seeking to use the resources of New Zealand's ICT community — so they do not find themselves hunting through NZ's 140-odd ICT industry bodies to find the one that best fits for their needs.

In forming a single umbrella organisation for New Zealand’s ICT industry, NZ is copying a “tried and tested model” which has been used with success in a number of other countries, says David Irving, a committee member of the new organisation and a former Synergy chief executive and Itanz president.

“Most countries have a single organisation representing the ICT trade, and in New Zealand most trades have a single organisation to represent them.”

Those who have chosen the same model include Britain’s Intellect UK, the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF), ICT-Ireland and India’s Nascom. Last year Itanz director Jim O’Neill cited the latter as a model for a unified NZ organisation (Computerworld 29 November, 2004).

At the time, O’Neill said Itanz had been talking to eight prominent organisations about setting up an umbrella organisation — and, indeed, ICT-New Zealand has nine founder members.

The degree of separate identity that each member of similar overseas' organisations enjoys differs from country to country. Some re-badge themselves as “chapters” of the larger organisation, while others maintain fully separate identities while still contributing to the umbrella body.

Flexibility will be the key to ICT-New Zealand, says Irving. “We have worked hard on a structure that will accommodate both models and [various] points in between.”

Membership will be open not only to existing industry associations, but to ICT companies and even to individuals. Appropriate rules regarding voting power are still being worked on. A single membership will allow that member to access information and services from all constituent bodies.

Won’t this reduce membership subscription income? "Probably," says Irving. But ICT-NZ’s “shared services model” will also decrease expenditure. All organisation have certain tasks in common, such as managing membership lists and subscriptions and arranging meetings, and ICT-New Zealand will be able to merge all these into one.

ICT-NZ has close contact with the government’s Hi-Growth project, which aims to push NZ’s ICT industry as being one entity. But its mandate is different, says Fraser “Our thinking is on the same lines, but they’re concerned with removing blockages to progress. We’re not about [government policy matters such as] sorting out tax and compliance problems and ensuring there are enough graduates in the country.” ICT-New Zealand will focus more on the day-to-day development of the industry, says Fraser.

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