War talk not big IT issue

IT investment projects in New Zealand should be safe in the event of a war with Iraq, but there could be disruption to the wider IT market, say industry insiders.

IT investment projects in New Zealand should be safe in the event of a war with Iraq, but there could be disruption to the wider IT market, say industry insiders.

As George Bush primed the country for war in his state of the union address last week, New Zealand IT bosses viewed the potential conflict as a distant affair unlikely to affect them.

ITANZ executive director Jim O’Neill, however, fears the country could suffer from any global economic downturn a Gulf war might cause and projects may be hit by a fall in business confidence.

“War won’t be a good thing for the industry,” he says.

However, New Zealand, he says, has few “massive” IT projects on at the moment, so it should largely be “business as usual” for the industry. Furthermore, some small New Zealand firms supply products used in the defence sector, so they could benefit.

Wellington-based Mark Hales, IT manager of shipping agent Seatrans, is unsure what war might mean.

“It depends on what the fallout is. What’s Russia going to do? China? North Korea? We have to watch this space. If the conflict is like the first Gulf war, it won’t have any impact but if things start going ballistic, you have potentially large problems,” he says.

Either way, the shipping company has no major projects on apart from the integration of an inhouse system with a customer.

Mark Brennan, IT manager of Port Taranaki-based Westgate Transport, says his organisation’s IT projects, such as upgrading its Oracle financial suite and developing custom applications with Oracle tools, are almost finished and all resourced locally.

“We are not using offshore resources. I can’t see how a Gulf war could have any impact,” he says.

Transtasman real estate agent Harcourts also sources projects internally, but IT manager Jason Wills wonders whether hardware shipments might be affected. But for Harcourts, the main issue is supply of bandwith. “As long as they don’t bomb New Zealand, we can power the whole of Australasia,” Wills says.

Kathy Holdsworth, IT manager of Tower Insurance, doubts a war will affect her company’s projects “because we are too far away”, she says.

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