Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Information Technology - use it, don't make it

Noël Coward is said to have observed that TV is for appearing on, not for looking at.

The Wall Street Journal is now saying something similar about IT. It's for importing, not making.

And it cites Australia as the success story.

"...one of the biggest beneficiaries from information technology is Australia, which hasn't any high-tech industry at all. Yet it is one of the few economies to have enjoyed a 1990s surge in productivity (or output for each hour of work) as impressive as the one the U.S. has seen. Its secret: import high-tech gear that others make. As in the U.S., the spread of bar-coding, scanning and inventory-management systems is making Australian wholesalers much more efficient, and that is paying economywide dividends. Compared to its population, Australia has more secure servers, the sort used in e-commerce, than anyone else besides the U.S. and Iceland (that is another story)."

In 1997 our own Information Industries Taskforce produced a report entitled The Global Information Economy: The Way Ahead in which it advised the government quite differently. We had to make, not just use.

"Australia’s future as an advanced economy will depend on the extent to which it participates in the evolving global information industries as a provider of products and systems; not just a taker. Full participation in the digital economy will require a significant increase in current exports by the information industries based on a much more focused and cohesive export strategy."

Perhaps it is just as well the report lay largely unread...

As did many reports commissioned by the new government. What about the one by Charlie Bell advising the government to cut the burden of red tape on small business?