Australia continues to fall in global rankings on how ready business and governments are to benefit from using technology, which industry blames on uncertainty around the national broadband network and business being too risk-averse and conservative with IT investment.
In the 2013 Global Information Technology survey produced by the World Economic Forum and released on Thursday, Australia ranked 18th of 144 nations, down one spot from the previous year and from ninth place in 2004.
The nation’s ranking for individual technology use rose one spot to 15th, but dropped three places to 25th for business use and down 11 positions to 19th for government.
“This reinforces both the need for high-speed ubiquitous broadband but importantly, the critical need to invest in lifting the skills needed to gain the greatest benefit from this infrastructure,” Australian Industry (Ai) Group chief executive Innes Willox said of Australia’s ranking.
Mr Willox said businesses required confidence and knowledge to invest, and governments needed policies in areas such as skills, innovation, cutting red tape, cybersecurity and buying technology goods.
“Lifting productivity is front and centre of the economic agenda and ICT [information and communications technology] adoption is an important part of this challenge,” he said.
George Kazangi, managing director of BlueCentral, which hosts mission critical business and web applications, said the reason business and governments were lagging behind the rest of the world was because they took a risk-averse and conservative approach to technology projects.
“I think it’s holding us back from the rest of the world because that conservative view doesn’t drive research and development and it doesn’t drive technology investment, which is really holding us back from becoming an IT powerhouse,” Mr Kazangi said.
Australian business and governments would go up the IT rankings when they became “more confident and more comfortable” with investing more money in technology projects, he added.
One of the major reasons businesses were putting off large infrastructure projects and investment in technology, he said, had to do with uncertainty surrounding the NBN rollout.
“So their concerns and the risk to their business are spending on infrastructure with such a long return, particularly because of the length of where the NBN stands now and how long it’s going to take to deploy. But also uncertainty as to what that will look like at the end of the deployment.”
Kevin Noonan, research director at Ovum, agreed with businesses being conservative and risk-averse. “The problem has been risk aversion when focussing on IT and then ignoring the enormous opportunity risks in not taking up business change,” Mr Noonan said.
“So what we [have been] focussing on is saving a couple of dollars on technology and missing out on the hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be saved through business change.
“I think though that we are starting to see some change happening there though.”
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