E-commerce summit earns Swain finalist spot

A politician, a public servant, a group promoting IT investment and a government inquiry make up the finalists in an elite new category of this year's Computerworld Excellence Awards.

A politician, a public servant, a group promoting IT investment and a government inquiry make up the finalists in an elite new category of this year’s Computerworld Excellence Awards.

The four — IT Minister Paul Swain, Ministry of Education official Carol Moffatt, the IT Investment Forum and the Hugh Fletcher-led telecommunications inquiry — are vying for recognition as having made “the most significant contribution to IT” in 2000. The winner will be named at an event in Auckland on July 6.

Swain was nominated for the award for “his consistent message to government and the business community on the importance of technology”.

During the period in which the award is judged, the minister’s major achievement was the staging of the e-commerce summit in Auckland. The event was widely hailed a success and gave the government, from the prime minister down, an opportunity to show that it had realised the importance to the country of having a “knowledge-driven economy and society”.

Swain had a slow start in the IT portfolio, being sidelined by illness for months after Labour came to power. He’s been making up for it since, continuing his advocacy of IT and telecommunications issues in addresses up and down the country.

Carol Moffatt, who is the manager of the Ministry of Education’s ICT (information communication technologies) strategy, has been working toward a similar end, but at a more grassroots level. Her nomination is for the work she has done promoting computers in schools.

Moffatt is credited with “championing the contribution ICT can make to student learning”. Before taking on the ministry job in 1998, she was principal of Oxford Area School in north Canterbury, establishing it at the centre of the Cantatech cluster of 10 South Island schools with computer links.

According to her nominee, Moffatt’s expertise is sought after by experts in England, the US and Australia.

The third finalist, the IT Investment Forum, gained a profile during 2000 by organising events featuring leading lights from the US and Australian computer industries. They included former Apple boss John Sculley and Netscape head Jim Clark, and expatriate New Zealander Steve Outtrim, of Melbourne-based Sausage Software fame.

The group sets out to elevate the profile of the IT industry and provide business opportunities for forum attendees by providing networking opportunities for technology companies, investors and resource providers.

The nomination notes that “the IT Investment Forum has done an excellent job of showing potential New Zealand IT entrepreneurs a way ahead”.

The last berth for “most significant contribution to IT” finalists went to the Hugh Fletcher-led telecomms inquiry.

The nomination calls it “a watershed undertaking which deliberated during 2000 and whose main recommendation was for the appointment of a telecomms commissioner”. The inquiry has also given new impetus to moves to extend broadband internet access more widely throughout the country.

While legislation establishing the commissioner’s role is still before Parliament, debate about the New Zealand telecomms environment has moved to a new level since the inquiry.

The sponsor of the “most significant contribution to IT” category is The Simpl Group.

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