Will IIA follow ATUG?

Will IIA follow ATUG?

Summary: The Australian Telecommunications User Group (ATUG) recently closed its doors, and this morning's news about the Internet Industry Association's (IIA) funding woes calls to question whether that organisation will have a similar fate.

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The Australian Telecommunications User Group (ATUG) recently closed its doors, and this morning's news about the Internet Industry Association's (IIA) funding woes calls to question whether that organisation will have a similar fate.

Google, Telstra and Microsoft decided not to renew their memberships with the IIA, according to a report in The Australian.

Apart from the image issue of losing these big hitters, the IIA will be mourning the loss of funds they received from the companies.

Former IIA CEO Peter Coroneos recently left the association after a marathon stint at its head. He was set to be replaced by Steve Burrell, who was moving over from his position as head of communications, media relations and policy advocacy for the Australian Institute of Company Directors, but Burrell changed his mind at the last minute, which The Australian has indicated was partly caused by the large companies' defection.

The IIA has said that it has been struggling with how it handles larger companies, but I worry about whether the amount of associations we have in the technology space will continue to have relevance in the future.

As Peter Coroneos said in his going away speech, the internet now touches everything. It seems a little odd to have an association to deal with everything. The IIA's role could be threatened by normal business associations like the Australian Institute of Company Directors, as e-commerce becomes the norm and not just a technological conversation.

There also seems to be so much overlap between the IIA and other organisations, like the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Authority and the Communications Alliance. As fixed-line providers move into mobile, and mobile into fixed, as cloud providers destroy software, the boundaries are moving and associations based on old boundaries will need to consider where they stand.

Do you think that traditional technology associations will adapt and survive, or will we see more organisations shut down like ATUG did?

Topics: Google, Microsoft, Telcos, Telstra, Tech Industry

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Sad to see such valuable associations in trouble. If corporations don't support them they have to look elsewhere for funding such as Government and as I have recently shown, Government funding of Industry Bodies can have some very bad outcomes for industry.
    brucemills
  • As with ATUG, it would be sad to see IIA disappear off the local industry scene because they have made a very valuable contribution in the past. It is a simple fact however that there are too many ICT industry associations in Australia (over 30 at the last count and seemingly new ones being created all the time). This is really not workable in member value terms for local ICT providers to sustain when they are being forced to drive down their costs and furthermore it makes any effective consultation approach with Australian Govts difficult to achieve because of the fragmented nature of the voices involved. In my experience many of the current associations are reluctant to be involved in any attempts to consolidate, largely because the individuals involved are protective of their status and can’t see the opportunity for greater good it offers their members. As a reference point of interest here, the German Govt a number of years ago told their local ICT industry to get their act together and consolidate into one body which they would use as their ongoing primary point of consultation for all matters relating to ICT policy and usage. They also agreed to fund the group for an initial period (2 years I think) after which time it needed to be self-sustaining. The resulting entity BITKOM is highly impactful and has agreed great things for the German local ICT sector. Makes me think we might need to think about some similar sort of catalytic event in Australia.
    Ian Birks