Australia's position as one of the world's biggest contributors in the global information technology and telecommunications (IT & T) industry is under threat, according to a new World Information Technology and Services Alliance study.
Researched by International Data Corp (IDC), the study revealed that Australia invested $US33 billion in IT &T last year, ranking it ninth amongst the world's largest spenders.
However, industry experts warn that Australia might not be able to sustain its position as one of the top market players.
"Over a long period of time, Australia has been within the world's top 10 nations in terms of IT development. But as the larger, but undeveloped, countries get up to speed with IT in terms of the total size of their IT mar- kets, they will pass us by," Graham Penn, IDC Australia's research general manager, told ARN.
"Countries such as Brazil and China - which have far larger domestic markets and are developing their IT industries rapidly - are poised to relegate Australia to a position lower down the ranking order."
Penn nevertheless pointed out that the absolute size of the market is only one measure that can be used to predict IT&T growth.
"One thing Australia can do [to protect its position] is appoint a Federal minister for information technology who will understand the industry context and be subject to advice from all sorts of competing industry sources," Penn suggested, adding that "having a minister with such skills could underlie the future implementation of IT infrastructure".
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) shares the same opinion, according to Michel Hedley, corporate relations manager for the AIIA.
"We are calling for national leadership, national interest and national energy to be put into developing the industry that Australia has an excellent IT&T base for," he said.