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Saturday, 29 October 2011 12:23

AIIA shrinks and dumps CoMICTA


Australian Information Industry Association chief executive Suzanne Campbell says her decision to retrench seven people and reorganise the ICT's peak industry body is necessary in order to build a 'sustainable association.' She has also pulled the 34 year old organisation out of CoMICTA , a body it previously chaired, which was formed by Government and agencies such as CSIRO, to market Australian ICT capabilities internationally.

Intel CEO and AIIA chairman Phil Cronin declined to comment on the changes except to say that Ms Campbell had the full support of the AIIA board.

On Thursday Ms Campbell told seven AIIA staff members that their roles were being made redundant, and while some were offered alternatives many have chosen to leave. She was adamant that the people were not being sacked, but said that the AIIA 'does not need these resources on a full time basis.'

She told iTWire on Saturday that the changes were consistent with the arrival of a new CEO taking the opportunity to review operations. Ms Campbell joined the organisation in August replacing Ian Birks who left after a three year stint at the AIIA helm.

She said as a result of the review she had concluded 'We need a different sized secretariat staff,' adding 'This is an ordinary business process for an organisation that has been operating for 34 years.'

Ms Campbell was not able to say how many people would be left to run the AIIA, and in something of a confusing signal said that in the future 'We could well be hiring new people.'

She said that 'What we need to get to is an agile efficient organisation'¦to build a sustainable association.' Ms Campbell said that she would focus the AIIA on Government relations and policy matters in the future.

Separately, in an email sent last week Ms Campbell alerted CoMICTA members to the fact that the AIIA was also withdrawing from the organisation which was established nine years ago to promote Australian ICT capabilities internationally.

Although the AIIA had been invited by Austrade to take on the management of the CoMICTA secretariat, this offer has now been declined. In her email Ms Campbell said that the AIIA was committed to 'focused and effective programs that target the priorities of industry.'

She noted that; 'Following a review of the benefit to AIIA members, who are mostly focused on the Australian domestic market, we have resolved that the management of the CoMICTA Secretariat is not closely aligned to our current priorities and will not deliver direct value for the majority of our members. As such we have decided not to proceed to take up the Secretariat role for CoMICTA and we will not renew our 2011 membership.'

For AIIA's multinational membership that focus on the domestic market is certainly the case, however for the smaller local members of the AIIA, a decision to pull out of an organisation established to market Australian ICT capabilities internationally may rankle. But it appears that it is the larger organisations which are uppermost in Ms Campbell's mind.

While there had been speculation that the shake-up of the AIIA might have been prompted by a downturn in membership fees, she refuted the suggestion stating that the 'Revenue base is remarkably strong. And the large organisations have been extraordinary in their commitment to the AIIA. Google, IBM and Microsoft are all on board.'

The AIIA board is currently dominated by multinational organisations which have 10 board positions compared to the six positions held by local ICT businesses.

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