What's in a name?

Are ICT, IT&T and plain old IT interchangeable? Or is it time for a new name?

If you believe Shakespeare, then there's nothing in a name, and that which we call the ICT industry by any other word would be as successful.

So are ICT, IT&T and plain old IT interchangeable? Or is it time for a new name? That is the question.

ICT affects every aspect of our daily lives, from food production, to transport, to finance and medicine. The fact that many Australians still views ICT as a computer on a desk is a major part of our industry's problem in attracting new talent.

Students are backing away from technology careers in droves, as they think ICT means they'll become computer technicians or programmers, when the reality of the ICT industry is far more exciting -- with endless possibilities and scope to change the world.

And then there are some people in our industry who don't even realise they are working in ICT. One young person recently told me that he was "embarrassed to discover that the acronym I kept hearing was actually referring to my industry -- and then equally embarrassed to have to discretely ask what it stands for."

So what does ICT stand for? If we examine the key functions of our industry, I think it's fair to say that we cover:

• Communications (infrastructure, telecommunications and Internet technologies);
• Information (the exchange and storage of information);
• Media and entertainment (everything from social networking to movies); and
• Transactions (the US National Retail Federation has forecast US$174.5 billion in online sales in 2007, for example).

Is it time to toss the TLA (three-letter acronym) for a phrase like "high-technology industry"?

We need a brand for our industry that encompasses the full gamut of job roles and responsibilities. The ICT industry is for inventors and entrepreneurs, architects and fashion designers, film-makers and digital animators, as well as for bloggers and social networking buffs.

We need to embrace an identity that stimulates interest and engages people, particularly young people, with the industry.

With that in mind, perhaps it's time for our industry to start seeing ICT as a verb -- as a facilitator and enabler -- rather than as a noun.