Tasmania's ICT industry is being held back by poor infrastructure,
ineffective government support and market size, according to a report into the sector released by the state's treasurer yesterday.
Focus groups held in Launceston, Devonport and Hobart (part of
the study conducted by management consultants Whitehorse and the Centre for Innovative
Industry Economic Research) stated a lack of reasonably priced
broadband capacity to be a major problem dogging the industry. They also
found that although the government tried to help the ICT industry,
a lack of knowledge has hampered its efforts.
Intelligent Island program is seen by some respondents to have
missed its target; most of the focus group attendees didn't
experience any advantage within their business," the report said.
Intelligent Island funded initiatives such as an ICT research
facility and programs to bring new products to market.
One way the authors felt the government could help going forward would be to
introduce programs to encourage Tasmania's consulting and services market.
Tasmanian ICT revenue amounted to a total of $1.4 billion in
2008, 1.6 per cent of the total Australian ICT revenue, according to the report. Within various industry segments such as telecommunications, wholesale
trade, manufacturing and software and computer services, only
software and computer services revenue grew
as a percentage of total Australian ICT revenue between 2003 and 2008. The segments' share of
Tasmanian ICT revenue grew from 9 per cent in 2003 to 19 per cent in 2008.
"It may be worth Tasmania considering programs similar to those
recently adopted by the Victorian Government to maximise local ICT
industry consulting and software services participation," the report
Something needed to be done to offset the lack of size, the authors continued.
Most Tasmanian ICT participants were small to medium-sized
businesses which, when they reached a certain point, would be merged
or bought and have large parts of the business moved to the
mainland. If they did stay in Tasmania, they would have to export
their business due to the size of the local market.
Multinationals went after the larger clients in the market, such
as the government, competing with local firms. In a lot of the
other, smaller, segments, local firms had the run of the field. The
"thin" nature of the Tasmanian market meant that no dominant
market focus presented itself as a focus for cooperation between
Similarly, research and development efforts were spread out over
the market, not ideal for achieving results. "The range and
diversity of foci suggest that it may be difficult for critical
mass to be achieved in all cases, and some concentration of
research effort could result in more effective outcomes," the
The authors recommended that industry body TasICT help with the
exchange of information to improve these problems.
Aside from the forums, information for the report came from a survey of ICT companies in
Australia, known as the "Whitehorse Top 250", which covers 790
operating companies, as well as sources such as annual reports and web searches.