Who's in charge?

A few different experiences lately have got me thinking about digital leadership and just whose job should it be?

A recent discussion on twitter also canvased the issue as well, I think the whole 'gigatown' campaign highlights the difficulties around trying to stimulate UFB uptake and awareness when Chorus itself comes from the culture that up until recently when suddenly there was Government money involved, actively denied the need for anything better than 'everyday broadband' which was seen as being around 256kb/s.

The UFB is a bold initiative that is already driving NZ up the global broadband rankings, the US is still getting excited that fibre might be coming to Cupertino - the home of Apple. Within a decade it will be the norm in every New Zealand town.

In 2008 TUANZ called for the creation of a Government entity dedicated to providing digital leadership similar to role played by the IDA (the Infocomm Development Authority) in Singapore.

Xero founder and all-round digital good guy Rod Drury has been vocal in his call for NZ to have a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) something that is get picked up as an idea by a number of political parties but sadly not yet by the Government.

And when you get down to it digital leadership does seem to come back to the government for many reasons:

1.0  They are the collective voice for NZ inc

2.0  They are the biggest beneficiary of NZ being a keen adopter of ICT through everything from increased productivity generally down to lowering the cost of delivering government services

3.0  They are the biggest aggregated purchaser of ICT services in the country, who else has the money to do INCIS, Novopay etc

4.0  They are now once more a significant investor in ICT and hold stakes in a variety of ICT related entities (for example CFH, Chorus, Kordia, REANNZ & N4L)

5.0  Their policies direct how the NZ digital landscape develops at both an infrastructure and commercial level

6.0  They set and operate the regulatory regime, the spectrum regime, the resource management regime, the educational curriculum and broad economic policy

7.0  They are our interface to wider international agreements and environments for issues like copyright, trade, RS&T and international standards

8.0  Various arms of government also contain more people who are paid to look at the future than you find in the 'real' economy where we are focused on surviving today and coming back for more tomorrow

Steven Joyce is a man I like and respect but he is wrong when he says that having a GCIO (Government Chief Information Officer) is as good as having a NZ inc CTO reporting directly to the PM. We do need a GCIO mainly to manage number 3 on the list, the CTO needs to have an overview of everything.

And the CTO needs to be able to look at the big picture stuff like the 'Internet of Cows', '3D printing', 'Digital Inclusion' or 'delivering Rural Gigabit'.

What do you think?