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Meeting strong demand

Meeting strong demand

Smart people are vital to the future of our ICT, but how do we convince the powers-that-be?

The term information technology has ballooned to encompass many aspects of computing and technology and is more widely recognised than ever before.

In that context, the lack of attention given to ICT issues says a lot about the short-term preoccupation of our political leaders. Considering the Australian ICT industry offers such great potential and that overseas experience has shown that governments can play a central role in building the environment for innovation, this is extremely frustrating.

New technology, globalisation, and the rising power of international brands, are changing the way we work and are fuelling the competition for talent. Without increased skills, we could condemn ourselves to a lingering decline in competitiveness, diminishing economic growth, and a bleaker future for all. The case for action is compelling and urgent.

In China and India universities are now awarding more science and technology degrees every year than America. This means we are seeing a huge influx of new talent into the global innovation pool, with the result that the pace of new technology discovery will only continue to speed up. But China and India are now only a part of the equation -- other countries are quickly moving into similar directions.

With new knowledge come new discoveries and innovation -- and with these comes ever more rapid change.

Business leaders have to find ways to maximise the effectiveness of their business operations and IT professionals must make significant contributions to corporate goals of revenue, profit, and cash flow. Gartner says some of the most heated debates between IT and business operations centre on the issue of change -- mostly IT's inability to respond effectively to it.

Changing technologies such as social computing and things like wikis, blogs, RSS, and more, are now making their way into the business arena in some form or other. Those workers that have the skills and knowledge in these emerging sectors will be in demand.

Leadership doesn't grow out of a prestigious title or a pithy speech; it's earned by communicating the right values and attitudes and ensuring that they're transformed into actions and behaviours throughout an organisation. Many IT professionals, after having already transitioned through several technologies (mainframe, client-server, and Internet) with things getting more complex every time, are reaching a plateau in their career because it's not possible to advance into management ranks.

Driven by the new generation of workers, we now have more than 200 million people with Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn accounts, and social networking is changing the nature of collaborative interaction. This phenomenon is threatening hierarchical structures and even enterprise boundaries. Along this trend, more than 1.4 billion cell phones were shipped last year and the market continues to grow in double digits.

In the global economy ICT is the major driver, not just for an improved quality of life, but also for economic growth. Yet most of our policy makers do not adequately appreciate this fundamental reality.

The development of ICT human capital is paramount to the maturation process of the Australian ICT industry. It is an important factor to the continued improvement and growth of our ICT companies as well as being critical to the creation of an environment conducive to attracting ICT businesses and their technology here.

Len Rust is publisher of


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