The ICT industry must pull together as a unified force to realise the potential of the planned national broadband network (NBN), according to the CEO of research and development centre, NICTA.
Speaking at a CeBIT panel discussion in Sydney titled, Identifying and Addressing the Issues in Creating the Digital Economy, NICTA CEO, Dr David Skellern, said the industry lacked a cohesive front.
“It is going to be absolutely essential for Australia to benefit from this [the NBN] that we really look at a greater level of cohesion among the industry,” Skellern said. “This is one of my hobby horses, but we have something like 20 or 30, I don’t know how many organisations representing the ICT community in Australia.”
To highlight the nature of Australia’s fragmented ICT landscape, Skellern, who heads one of Australia’s foremost ICT research centres, pointed to Germany where one body, BITKOM, represents 90 per cent of the ICT industry community.
“I don’t think we have that sort of clout in our industry and this sector. We need to pull together much better if we are going to get the sort of development and support from government that we need to actually benefit in a much better way, in a great way, from the infrastructure being put in place,” he said.
“This [the NBN] is the rallying point. We get one of these opportunities in a lifetime and the industry has to make the most of it; the sector as a whole has to make the most of it.”
The Australian ICT landscape is littered with different representative bodies, several small and some large, that pursue separate agendas with varying degrees of intensity and success. At the larger end of the scale is:
- Internet Industry Association (IIA)
- Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA)
- Australian Computer Society (ACS)
- Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)
- System Administrators Guild of Australia (SAGE-AU)
- .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA)
- National ICT Australia (NICTA)
- CSIRO ICT Centre
- Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)
- Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA)
- Communications Alliance
Both AIIA CEO, Ian Birks, and ACS CEO, Kim Denham, echoed Skellern’s call for a more united front to ensure the industry realises its potential through the NBN.
“What we need to do as an industry and in government is to drive this forward,” Denham said. “To now, get it off the NBN and onto the digital economy and how we advance ICT capabilities.”