Saturday, August 21, 2004

IT Matters for Hong Kong

On Aug 17, 2004, the Hong Kong Computer Society, Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association, and Information and Software Industry Association, supported by seventy-seven associations and organizations from the IT and other industry, and six universities in Hong Kong, jointly launched the "IT MATTERS FOR HONG KONG" campaign.

The campaign will aim to improve the image of IT and improve its usage level among the public and commercial sectors through various activities targeting all levels of society, as well as the industry itself.

Here is the communal statement of the campaign, endorsed by all 37 parties.


Professionals and organisations in the IT industry are increasingly concerned with the lack of awareness and recognition, among the Hong Kong community, of the importance of IT as an essential enabler in our economic transformation and the enhancement of our quality of life. Mounting evidence include:

§ The persistent unemployment and under-employment of seasoned IT professionals
§ The bursting of the dot-com bubble a few years back which has severely tainted the professional and social image of the IT sector
§ The slow adoption of IT by our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the backbone of our economy, despite well-intentioned efforts by the Government and other relevant organisations
§ IT-related studies at our universities, once immensely popular among matriculating students, now experiencing a draught of applicants

In view of this predicament, which if persists would lead to dire consequences for our economic transformation and global competitiveness, four representative organisations in the IT sector, have recently come together to formulate a communal statement on IT and prepare an action plan to revitalise the image and perception of an industry and profession vital to our economy and to our vision to be the leading digital city in Asia. This Statement has received the endorsement and support from six universities and more than twenty trade and professional organisations.

Information technology is the strategic asset to create societal wealth through supporting and gearing our economic transformation for Hong Kong to compete effectively in the global market.

IT is a strategic asset creating societal wealth

That IT is the strategic asset to create societal wealth in any economy is universally recognised. In Hong Kong, the Government’s Digital 21 Strategy aims to exploit and realise the full potential of IT to accelerate our transition to a knowledge-based economy, to provide the impetus to economic growth and prosperity, and to improve the quality of life for all.

In Mainland China, to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing technological, social and business environment of the 21st century, the Central Government has decreed IT as a strategic, leading and pillar industry to improve the national economy, fortify national security, enhance citizens’ livelihood and foster societal progress, and the core industry able to accelerate the national economic transformation, and to speed up the national informatization programme.

Societal wealth created by the effective application of IT extends beyond the economic benefits of revenue and profit growth for Hong Kong enterprises. There would be more quality job opportunities at all levels. Customers and consumers would be able to make more informed choices through ready access to relevant information via an innovative variety of multimedia channels. The integration of IT in the full spectrum of our education system would induce a high degree of IT literacy within our community, which is essential to realise the full potential of the electronic delivery of public and consumer services in a digital society. Bridging the digital-divide would bring forward a better quality and a higher standard of living for our citizens.

IT Gears our Economic Transformation

That IT supports and gears our economic transformation is prominently promulgated in the Government’s Digital 21 Strategy. Apart from the digital-divide in our society, today there exists a significant digital-divide among businesses, specifically between large enterprises and small/medium-sized businesses (SMEs). SMEs are missing out on the advantages of IT-enabled process improvement with ready and wider access to value-added information and services. In Hong Kong’s economy where SMEs’ role is so critical, productivity and efficiency enhancements for the SMEs through IT would be essential to accelerate our economic transformation. A major reason for the sub-optimal adoption of IT among the SMEs is the misconstrued view of IT as an optional and relatively expensive cost item rather than as an essential and value-adding operational and informational tool for business successes.

Therefore, a campaign should be conducted to propagate and instill this pertinent concept of the ‘value’ of IT among the SMEs, together with a more creative and productive approach coordinated by the Government to encourage the wider adoption of IT by these organisations.

IT Enables Hong Kong to Compete Effectively in the Global Market

That IT is the strategic asset for Hong Kong to compete effectively in the global market is supported by our excellent IT-enabled infrastructure and the expertise and quality of our IT professionals.

We have one of the most advanced telecommunications networks in the world, offering innovative and reliable multi-media services. Our mobile phone penetration is over 100%; our broadband network reaches all commercial buildings and virtually all residential buildings. Cyberport, with the recent installation of the Wireless Development Centre and the ultra-modern Digital Media Centre, is making steady progress to fulfill its objective to promote IT development through the creation of high value-added industrial clusters, That our Chep Lap Kok International Airport, our container ports, and other business services are consistently achieving the highest rankings in the world owe much of their successes to our IT-enabled infrastructural facilities. That we have world-renowned IT applications, e.g. the versatile OCTOPUS Card, comprehensive logistics support systems for our multi-modal transportation facilities, the Government-supported ESDlife portal to facilitate access to public services, and many others is the fruitful culmination of the creative design, in-depth technical expertise, project management skills and multi-disciplinary teamwork of our IT professionals working hand-in-hand with other stakeholders.

To strengthen our capabilities to compete effectively in the global market, we need to leverage and further enhance our infrastructural facilities to support our economic transformation, and to align with the needs of the technology focus areas already identified for the development of innovation and technology. It is heartening to learn that, of the thirteen strategic technology areas identified for future development in the Government’s consultation paper “New Strategy of Innovation and Technology Development” issued in June 2004, at least 10 are intimately linked to or enabled by IT.

Furthermore, to maintain our competitiveness, and as acknowledged in the Government‘s Digital 21 Strategy document, “we must have adequate and quality human resources in IT to meet the demand of a knowledge economy and specifically that of commerce and industry”. Towards this objective, we must formulate effective plans to attract quality newcomers to be trained in IT courses, the curricula of which should be relevant to the prevailing needs of our commerce and industry. Together with our seasoned and experienced IT professionals, they would fuel our much-needed human capital in IT for the sustainable development of our economic transformation.


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