Queensland-based software developers have joined forces to form an industry lobby group in an attempt to challenge the power of overseas organisations.
Software Queensland will aim to take back contracts currently being awarded to global technology providers over homegrown talent.
“Local software developers are finding it harder to meet the criteria set in tender requests which tend to favour large, overseas companies,”
Software Queensland’s interim chairman and icemedia CEO, Paul Campbell, said. “They ask for reference sites with more than 1000 users … or $20 million liability insurance cover. These are the kind of barriers being put in place.”
Campbell said existing associations – such as the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) – had tried to be vocal and passionate on behalf of members, but high fees kept all but the large multinationals from joining.
This, he said, meant government support was minimal and large contracts were lost as a result.
“If we received even a fraction of the government assistance given to the likes of the sugar and car industries we could take on the world,” Campbell said.
The nine founding member companies have been discussing the idea of a breakout group for 18 months and are now looking to swell member numbers quickly from the 3700 IT companies in the state.
Reaction from local software developers has been good, although some question whether the group will be able to take on the might of the multinationals.
“They used to say you’d never get the sack for buying IBM – it’s safer to buy out of Redmond than out of Gympie,” said Hervey Bay-based software developer, Trevor Boulton, owner of Boultons Multimedia. “There’s nothing wrong with products from Gympie. It’s just going to take a lot of work and a lot of lobbying to change those opinions.”
CEO of ASX-listed Jumbo Corporation, Mike Vevera, agreed.
“Queensland does suffer from losing business and developers as they go overseas to find the bigger salaries,” he said.
“This [Software Queensland] is a step in the right direction and a sign of maturity in the industry. But nothing happens overnight – it’s unrealistic to think that there’ll be an impact in the short term.”
Senior executives from companies that are majority Queensland-owned and develop their own commercial software for licensing or sale are invited to join, and will be eligible to attend monthly meetings, industry forums and peer-group lunches.
Full membership of Software Queensland costs $550 per year with a $550 joining fee. Associate membership, open to people who have a strong record of supporting the Queensland software industry, costs $225 per year.
“What we see ourselves doing is taking the knowledge of people that have been in the market for a long time and passing that expertise on,” Campbell said.
He saidd that he would like to see similar organisations appear across Australia, as long as Software Queensland kept its independence.
“I would like to see some sort of confederation model developed – national organisations eventually become Sydney-centric,” he said. “We are trying to get the Federal Government’s attention and form a united front.”