Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

Australia Responds to the CIO Survey: We Are Innovators

I am lucky to travel for my work and it often provides me with surprising and humorous opportunities to learn about my home--the United States--from an outsider's perspective. Let's just say I have become very familiar with the cultural differences between the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.

At the August 15th Sydney CIO Survey event, I was again reminded of the many things I admire about Australian culture and its innovative spirit. Over 100 CIOs from across the Australian tech sector attended, joining thoughtful discussions on Australia's IT challenges, growth and opportunities. Here's what I learned:

Australia Is an Island, Economically Speaking

Don't get me wrong. I know that Australia is a continent and a country. I know geographers do not classify it as an island. However, the CIO Sydney event did highlight how well Australia weathered the broader global economic meltdown of the last several years. It was an island of relative economic stability while many countries and entire continents saw great loss in terms of wealth, commerce and jobs.

Australia's economy was a powerful exception: no debts, growing and running surplus budgets. Australia's steadiness in a tumultuous time has given the world a secure and stable destination for opening businesses and investing, which has allowed the Australian tech sector to blossom.

Australia Is a Land of Innovation & Partnership

While the world took several steps back during the financial crisis, Australia was able to maintain forward momentum and has made great strides in mobile technology and social media. Today the world's global hubs of IT and innovation are Silicon Valley, London, New York and now Sydney. Strategic partnerships in recent years between government and the private sector to attract innovative companies and start ups have resulted in notable growth. Today Australia's ICT (Information Communication Technologies) sector is a $100 billion and growing business.

Australia Breeds Tech Risk Takers

It's true that we Americans like to stereotype Australians as adventure seekers and risk takers. There's that incredible wilderness--the Outback and its remarkable wildlife, from kangaroos to crocodiles. There's the great coral reef and ocean, rain forest and wilderness galore. And while I have quickly learned that not all Australians surf, I have seen that there is a strong spirit of adventure in its IT sector. It's a risk taking spirit that was echoed at the CIO Event this summer where CIOs spoke of their commitment to investing in innovation initiatives, mobile technology, cloud computing and collaboration tools. I've seen it in how quickly Australian businesses and IT leaders have adapted to offshoring. I have seen it in how they work strategically across Asia Pac to leverage the best, most efficient resources, talent and technologies to advance business and technology goals.

Australia Is Hungry for Progress & Ready to Lead

The home of celebrated IT inventions (think global leaders in medical device innovation) and pioneers in software development and Internet technologies, Australia is an industrious contributor to global technology progress and innovation. That's why it was surprising for me to hear during the CIO Event that the Australian tech sector can sometimes feel overshadowed by Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley and Tech City. That said, I think playing from behind (whether the position is real or assumed) has made Australia seriously competitive and forward thinking. Managing Director of Harvey Nash Australia said it best on her blog summarizing the Sydney CIO Event when she pointed to Australia's can-do position: "Inherently, we are a nation of disruptors and whilst innovation can occur in many different settings, it can only happen in an environment like Australia, which is open and hungry for progress and change."

Australia Is Making the World Smaller

In my opinion, Australia's rise to leadership in the IT sector is helping to make the world smaller and smarter. We have learned from Australia's early adopters of IT offshoring how to more effectively leverage talent and resources across international borders. We are seeing how strategic partnerships between private business and the public sector are helping to cultivate technology competitiveness and talent. As we continue to learn from the leaders, innovators and risk takers of Australia and all around the world, we grow closer, we grow smarter and we get better.