The TJ is running an article this morning making the case for a provincial ICT industry association.
However, there are industry associations and then there are industry associations.
In the past there have been attempts at an industry association for the ICT sector in New Brunswick but after government funding expired, so did the association.
There is a tendancy for industry associations to become organizers of golf tournaments and annual back slapping events. Feel good organizations that end up not being able to get private sector firms to continue to pay dues because they don’t see the value.
A good association tackles – hard – the key issues facing the industry. It gets concensus on the issues and works as a collective to address them.
I like the KIRA Awards program but the few times I have attended, I was amazed at all the back slapping going on. Here we were in the early 2000s, the Bernard Lord government was all but ignoring the sector (NB had the worst growth rate in IT jobs during Lord’s tenure) and the best the speakers could do that night (one that I remember vividly) is wax long and poetic about how wonderful the IT industry was in New Brunswick and how supportive the government was.
Now, KIRA is not an industry association per se but if an ICT industry is to be successful, it will have to speak truth to power and not be worried that the government will vindictively cut some obscure funding program.
A good ICT industry association will challenge and chastise government. Will publish statistics showing the harsh realities. Will inform the public on the truth not gloss things over with silly flattering of the government of the day.
A tough, action-oriented, annual golf tournament shunning ICT industry association that works hard and diligently on issues of staffing, access to capital, export orientation, diversification, etc. will, I believe, eventually get wide buy-in.