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Graduate And Technology In New Zealand

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How IT can best be used to improve New Zealand's economy and society in the next twenty years, and how IT graduates make their contribution to this opportunity personally

Kevin Nguyen - 25 July 2005

The Information Technology (IT) industry continues to show high growth potential. Based on updated information from the Ministry of Economic Development, the total value of the New Zealand IT industry, excluding communications services, in the 2002 financial year was estimated at $7,055 million, up 1% from the previous year, and almost twice what it was in 1994. The above figure includes single and multi users systems, hardware and software, computer services, training and education in IT (1).

The growing in IT industry also contributes to New Zealand's economy and society in terms of increasing business values, enhancing its performance and improving productivity. More and more businesses start to embrace IT to revitalize business processes, improve decision making and gain competitive advantage, especially when the competition is getting tougher every day. For instance, the impact of IT to the New Zealand forest industry is unarguable, global firm Cater Holt Harvey (CHH) has invested in wireless routers to manage its remote communications. The system manages some 6000 daily truck movements around 150 CHH logging operations. Without it, CHH would not be able to run its wood delivery management (2).

During a recent visit to New Zealand, Microsoft global vice-president Bob McDowell also emphasized " I have seen many examples of organizations using IT to support them in meeting their business challenges and I am confident to say that IT does matter"(3).

The developing of New Zealand IT industry at the present is encouraging and promising; New Zealand software is widely recognized in the global market; for instance Weatherscape XT is among New Zealand developed software recently sold to the BBC against big competitors including the US and Europe(4). According to Global Information Technology Report 2004-2005 released by the World Economic Forum, New Zealand is now placed 21st out of 104 countries in the world information communication technology rankings (5).

The chance that IT can be used to improve New Zealand's economy and society in the next twenty years is considerable. However it not only requires cooperation from many organizations, government and individuals, but also involves security, changes and decision making issues. Nonetheless, chief among the list is training and education. That is to use IT to support and develop young IT entrepreneurs. In particular, this will create the best IT environment as possible including equipments, tools and latest knowledge of high technology that is available in the world. These seeds will become the major force that has effect on the success of New Zealand IT industry in the next twenty years. The encouragement and support these young IT entrepreneurs receive will be passed on to the next generation.

The next priority is to improve IT infrastructure in the public health, transportation and telecommunications industries. These issues are unresolved problems for many countries in the world. The long queue in our hospital mailing list shows us an inefficient system or far behind equipment and technology. The increasing number of vehicle registrations demonstrates we do not have an effective public transport system. Regarding telecommunications, IT associate minister, Paul Swain also confirmed at the Telecommunications in New Zealand 2004 speech to TUANZ (*) that New Zealand broadband is relative low, comparing to other OECD (*) countries, New Zealand rank 22nd out of 23 that are actively rolling out broadband" (6). Being preparing to invest in our future using available IT resources as well as encouraging innovation in IT is also worthwhile to consider in strengthening New Zealand as a whole. Our society is also part of the economy, having a healthy and educated society will reflect a strong and undefeated economy.

Furthermore, encouraging and supporting New Zealand IT products and individuals who introduce them to global market is also important. This will promote New Zealand's presence in the international market as well as increase exporting and investment in the IT industry. For instance, local government and organizations initiate or sponsor innovative IT products, support international IT professionals who choose New Zealand as their career path or investment in business IT.

As an IT graduate, having working experience across many different organizations, I understand that IT plays an integral part in the business operation. Failure to apply IT normally results in an inefficient system or overusing IT incurs excessive cost and maintenance. Besides, communication also has a significant role in delivering a successful IT project as well as producing a usable application to the end users. Therefore, I myself contribute to this opportunity by practicing communication with non-IT users using common sense rather than terminology. Likewise, Mike Perry, CEO of global web software firm Montage Interactive advises "It's communication, more than anything else, that will decide the success of your IT decision making. You must establish a common language with

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