The local ICT industry remains plagued by self-serving industry groups, image problems and a bias toward employing men, Microsoft New Zealand managing director Kevin Ackhurst told a recent roundtable hosted by the software vendor at the University of Auckland Business School.
Ackhurst was instrumental in the formation of the NZICT Group representative body and served as interim chair, and says there are 100 groups representing different interests in the sector.
“Industry members choose to engage in wars and there are battles between the different organisations that exist. We use archaic language that people don’t understand and are prone to using acronyms. When you look at our industry from the outside you have to wonder, ‘why would you want to be a part of that’?”
Ackhurst says NZICT, whose CEO is Brett O’Riley, is seeking greater collaboration among groups in the sector. “Organisations that were more into self interest are starting to realise the benefits of collaboration. The opportunities for NZICT to work with the New Zealand Computer Society are being investigated.”
He supported proposals by University of Auckland senior lecturer Cathy Urquhart to encourage increased recruitment of women in ICT .
“I think the bias that exists amongst the men that work within the industry leads us to hiring more men,” says Ackhurst.
“It’s a self-fulfilling challenge that we have created for ourselves.
“It’s also an area of disappointment for me that we haven’t realised the opportunity to bring more people into our organisation, whether that be by gender or Maori and Pacific Islanders.”
Ackhurst was also disappointed at ICT representation at a recent job summit, saying only one delegate from an IT firm attended. “We talk about the ways in which information technology can be used to enable the country, yet when we get together to talk about enablement we don’t bring those people to participate.”
However, he was positive about the success of some local start-ups, saying more should be done to support these organisations. The government’s commitment to broadband development was also positive, he says.