ICT inaction risks e-government disaster: AIIA

By GovTechReview Staff
Monday, 06 May, 2013

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) must take a proactive role in monitoring government bodies’ use of technology in order to stimulate the innovative, value-added government ICT initiatives that are currently failing to take hold in Australia, Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) deputy chair Andrew Stevens said in helping launch the organisation’s SmartICT Election Platform.

Noting that ABS statistics on the use of technology were lacking, Stevens said the need to more actively benchmark Australian government institutions had grown from a lack of innovation around the use of ICT in government, which had contributed to Australia’s steady fall down the World Economic Forum’s ICT-adoption leaderboards in comparison to its major economic and regional peers.

“Finland, Singapore, Sweden… the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong all rank higher than us for their readiness for the digital economy,” said Stevens, who is also managing director for IBM Australia & New Zealand. “If we are to pull ahead as a digital nation, then we need solid data to inform our decisions.AIIA-AndrewStevens

“We need to retool our economy, root and branch – and we must face the fact that we’re punching below our weight in the digital arena. If Australia wants to maintain its relative prosperity to the world, then it’s time for government and business to act. There is no time to lose.”

The AIIA’s push for better data is one of six key elements in the SmartICT Election Policy, which represents the peak ICT industry body’s wish list for whichever government should come to power after the September 14 election. These include:

  1. Shifting the focus to driving take up and use of our national broadband infrastructure, with a particular focus on Government use of SmartICT;
  2. Stimulating growth and innovation by ICT start-ups and small business;
  3. Motivating small and medium sized enterprises to improve their productivity by ‘getting online' and becoming digitally capable;
  4. Addressing the ICT skills shortage;
  5. Growing our ICT capability through improved research and development (R&D) capability and capacity and forging better links between research and industry; and
  6. Acknowledging the ‘value’ of the digital economy by tracking and measuring its performance.

“The economic impact of digitisation accelerates as countries move to more advanced stages of digitisation,” AIIA CEO Suzanne Campbell, who was also flanked by AIIA chair and entrepreneur Kee Wong, said at the launch. “Those countries that are digitally constrained, even with the presence of broadband infrastructure, receive less benefit.”

“The reason for this is largely because they have yet to establish the ecosystem to capitalise on the benefits of smart ICT,” Campbell added, “and it’s exactly this point that underpins the SmartICT Election Platform. If we’re really, genuinely serious about building the ICT capability and capacity to be relevant and competitive in a global digital world, then the ecosystem that supports that outcome must be in place.”

“It’s time the government – and, indeed, all of us – took ICT seriously.” – David Braue

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