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ACS Proves Strong Presence at World Computer Congress

Tuesday, 13 Oct 2015

Future of ICT jobs and professionalism debated. 

A strong Australian delegation including several ACS representatives and the NSW Minister for Innovation, Victor Dominello has travelled to South Korea for the 23rd IFIP World Computer Congress.

The ACS representatives included CEO Andrew Johnson, director of the Australian Government's Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) project at the University of Queensland and immediate past president of the ACS Dr Nick Tate, past president and ACS fellow Anthony Wong, and national treasurer Yohan Ramasundara.

AJ Andrew Johnson, ACS CEO                                            

Dr Nick Tate Dr Nick Tate, ACS Past President                                         

Anthony Wong Anthony Wong, ACS Fellow                                            

Yohan Ramasundara Yohan Ramasundara, ACS National Treasurer

The congress covered enormous ground over four days, consisting of six main forums and 11 “co-located conferences”.

Topics included the future of ICT jobs, education, attracting youth into the industry, and digital equity.

It began with an overview of disruptive megatrends by Stephen Ibaraki, the founding chair of the Global Industry Council with IFIP IP3 - the International Professional Practice Partnership of the International Federation for Information Processing.

Some of those he highlighted included machine learning and big data, scientific automation, the replacement of workers by robots, and the rise of evidence-based decision making.

Information Age reported in August about the predicted effects of automation on the ICT employment landscape and whether it was young people that would be disproportionately hit hardest.

Alongside Ibaraki’s address, Gartner VP and research director Andrew Rowsell-Jones took a closer look at ICT trends for 2016, which included the rise of smart machines, advanced machine learning and the Internet of Things.

ACS makes its mark

Andrew Johnson and Nick Tate spoke in the South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) co-located conference.

Tate used his address to focus on ‘The Next Generation IT Workforce and the Future of the CIO’.

Citing a variety of research, he discussed the fundamental changes that IT roles are undergoing as a result of digital disruption.

He touched on the demand for ICT skills in the immediate future, which the ACS Digital Pulse put at 100,000 people being needed over the next six years.

In addition, Tate looked at where these 100,000 people might come from and whether enough young people were coming into ICT to satisfy future demand.

“Most people at the conference agreed they were short of skills and that the role of the CIO is under challenge,” Tate told Information Age on the sidelines of the conference.

Tate’s address also touched on six new types of IT role that is emerging, citing research by the Corporate Executive Board.

These roles include ‘collaboration and social media evangelist’ and ‘user experience guru’.

While Tate acknowledges those job titles might not match up with recruitment ads in Australia, the underlying skills were very much in demand.

“Everybody pretty much agrees that these sorts of roles are coming through,” Tate said.

Meanwhile Yohan Ramasundara addressed the InterYIT Conference on ‘The Future ICT Industry and the Young Professional’, while Anthony Wong presented to the main Education Forum track a case study on ACS’ accreditation programs that focus on the professionalism of Australia’s ICT workers.

Defeat device developers criticised

Professionalism was a point driven home by the Congress on closing day when IP3 – the professionalism focused arm of IFIP – took aim at the software developers that created code that let Volkswagen cheat emissions tests.

The car marker is currently embroiled in a global scandal over software that allowed it to rig vehicle emissions tests.

“The global body for ICT professionalism … denounced the actions of software engineers who designed and implemented the solution which allowed Volkswagen to distort the results of emissions tests carried out in the United States”, it said in a statement.

“ICT professionals must operate according to a Code of Ethics and should be willing to challenge or even report any order from management that risks the safety of that organisation’s customers or staff,” IFIP IP3’s acting chair Moira de Roche said.

“[This scandal] is as much an indictment of the software industry as it is of the VW executives who issued the order for the software to be installed.”

Open government

Meanwhile, NSW Minister Victor Dominello used his address at the Congress to espouse the benefits of openness and data sharing by governments, promising “strong legislation” in NSW to overcome what he saw as resistance among key bureaucrats.

“When I served as Aboriginal Affairs, I saw some appalling examples of inefficiency and duplication, simply because different agencies didn’t know what each other was doing,” he said.

“By sharing data and coordinating our efforts more effectively, we can improve the quality and relevance of services we provide to our citizens.”

Dominello said governments could not “put [their] heads in sand” on openness, although he noted that in conversations at the conference others had already raised similar challenges to those he faced in NSW.

“Even after just two days here in Korea, I’ve been hearing the same messages that I hear back home – that governments fail to share the data and that we live in silos. But information is power,” he said.

“To open up the data is a brave new world. When we open up government, when we show you transparency, you get to see us, you get to judge us.

“Yes, opening up data is brave, but it’s also critical. When we open up the data then we empower technical experts like the ones here in this room to start implementing and accelerating your ideas for change.”

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