Research shows the potential of the local Australian ICT industry

11 October, 2006

Smaller companies in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry want entrepreneurial training, access to marketing intelligence and the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded companies to win business, reveals a new research report into the potential of the local ICT industry.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), has released: "Realising the potential of the local ICT industry", which highlights the need for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to form business networks and establish alliances to grow globally competitive businesses.

According to AIIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Rob Durie, “We know that our members want to build capacity, they want entrepreneurial training, and they want to collaborate and partner to win business. This new piece of research confirms our policy directions.”

The recommendations that emerge from the research include the need to:

- Build the capacity and capability of the Australian ICT industry, particularly through the development of high-level managerial and entrepreneurial competence,
- Raise awareness of the importance of marketing and provide marketing intelligence,
- Advocate the exciting range of career opportunities to potential ICT graduates, and
- Promote the importance of the industry to the Australian public and Australian decision makers.

“Australian ICT SME companies are increasingly looking for business opportunities that enable them to build alliances and networks,” Durie explains. “To support the growth of the local industry, AIIA has developed a unique partnering program – CollabIT – which aims to help SMEs to grow into globally competitive businesses.”

CollabIT brings together companies with a diverse range of ICT capabilities into business clusters, enabling participants to identify skills and synergies, share their knowledge and pool their resources to bid for ICT contracts that would otherwise be out of their reach.

CollabIT is just one part of AIIA’s vision to create a globally competitive ICT industry.

The research report also recommends that the Association must support education and training programs to assist in raising managerial competency.

AIIA’s Developing Business Skills for ICT Entrepreneurs Program, now in its second year, aims to stimulate enterprise and entrepreneurship within the local ICT sector by providing advanced business training together with access to experienced and successful ICT entrepreneurs as mentors.

The findings support the raft of SME-based initiatives that have been developed by AIIA to complement the Association’s policy work in support of SMEs – which make up nearly 80 per cent of all ICT businesses in Australia.

AIIA has also developed a range of products especially for the SME ICT market, such as the SME Marketing Guide, which provides clear and practical advice on a range of marketing, public relations and communication issues, and the soon-to-be-released business matching service, which will link AIIA members to customers needing ICT solutions.

Moving forward, survey respondents indicated the need for capacity building programs to help them raise capital and commercialise new products.

“We need to do more work in this area, and will be developing new skills training to help our members access venture and angel capital, and lobby for changes relating to arrangements for pre-seed funding and ESOP programs,” Durie says.

AIIA will also further investigate how it can help smaller companies attend international trade shows.

“This research tells us that companies want to work together to break into new markets, and that AIIA can assist by bringing companies together so that they can leverage their collaborative buying power to reduce costs associated with international tradeshows,” Durie adds.

The research from the report also underscores the importance of promoting the vital role that ICT plays in supporting growth in most sectors of the Australian economy, Durie says.

“ICT contributes 4.6 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product – more than the contributions made by the agriculture, forestry and fishing, defence and education sectors and almost as much as the mining sector,” Durie explains.

“While the ICT industry is a significant industry in its own right, its more important role is in enabling and underpinning economic growth and many other activities in our community, supporting Australians in their work, education and recreation.”

The report was prepared by research and advisory firm Intermedium, which interviewed a broad range of representatives of the Australian ICT sector for their views on the key priorities of SMEs in the local industry.