Better Stats Sought for IT & T

The Information Technology Association and the government’s newly-formed eCom Action Team (eCat) are working to ensure more accurate and timely statistics are available on technology investment across industry sectors.

The latest official industry data due out this week puts a value of $11.1 billion across the technology and telecommunications sector for the year 2000 up from $9.4 billion in 1999. However there’s been ongoing concern about the way data is gathered, the lack of detail and the level of reliability.

Figures for the industry compiled for 1999 by Statistics NZ, Customs and the Ministry of Economic Development showed $6.03 billion invested overall with IT exports at $558 million. Software alone was pegged at $105 million. The government audit excluded the lucrative telecommunications software and services sector thought to add over $3 billion dollars.

However industry leaders say the real figures may triple government estimates. Software and related products are no longer exclusively shipped out through traditional ports but sold from web sites, downloaded over the internet and through international offices. Increasingly software is embedded in electronics or computer hardware or bundled with equipment as part of the sale.

The government promised last year that as part of its move toward a knowledge economy there would be improved statistical analysis of the hi-tech sector. The government’s new eCat group tasked with removing any impediments to e-commerce has begun looking into the requirements for better metrics.

Information Technology Association (Itanz ) chief executive Jim O’Neill, one of the dozen technology industry representatives on the group, says Itanz in particular is considering commissioning specific detailed data. It’s hoping to extend its contract with research group IDC to gain more specific industry sector information technology and telecommunications data.

He says the annual statistical survey of the IT industry is now being compiled shows a decrease in some areas but an increase in software and services and exports.

“We’re looking to try and increase the amount of information we get on how well placed the retail, banking, primary industry, manufacturing sectors are to take on new business opportunities.” Data will be gathered from Customs, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Statistics NZ as well as IDC.

“We want to get a handle on what the contribution of IT is to each sector so we can get bills and legislation in place.” He says data will be released by both eCat and Itanz as soon as it is available.

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