High-tech developments such as the Hong Kong smart identity card, the stored-value Octopus card and radio frequency identification (RFID) logistics management system all help to facilitate economic growth and confirm Hong Kong's position as an international business hub that boasts effective transport and communications.
"Technological advancements have placed Hong Kong at the forefront of IT technology in Asia. A plethora of locally developed IT applications are being installed as the basis to build IT infrastructure across the region," says Sunny Lee, president, the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS), and executive director, information technology, the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
In many ways, IT applications play a pivotal role in streamlining business procedures and enhancing efficiency, while its role in cost control and risk management is even more significant during the current economic downturn.
"People tend to see Hong Kong's finance sector as the pulse of the city's economic growth, but they often overlook the role that IT plays in supporting specific sectors with a secure and reliable infrastructure meeting international standards," says Mr Lee.
Few Hong Kong people would leave home without their Octopus cards, but while they are an integral part of local life, the system is the envy of many other major centres in Asia and the rest of the world. "We have many locally developed, record-breaking applications that other Asian countries now are looking at adopting," Mr Lee says. Similar card payment systems are now in use in Singapore, Macau, Taiwan and Shenzhen.
He notes that IT professionals must keep abreast of the latest industry developments and understand their companies' business goals in order to add value. For this reason, employers should involve IT professionals in strategy meetings in order to get the full benefit of their IT expertise.
To recognise IT professionals who have made a significant contribution to the industry and community in Hong Kong, the HKCS and Career Times are co-organising the HKCS Outstanding IT Achiever Awards 2008, the first competition of its kind in the local IT industry.
The competition also serves to raise public awareness of the importance of IT to Hong Kong's economy, helps promote professional IT standards and attracts young talent to the field.
"From Hong Kong international airport's logistics and traffic control system to the public hospital clinical management system, the IT industry has made a significant contribution to Hong Kong's development over the past few decades," Mr Lee adds.
Entrants to the competition will compete with each other in four categories designed to recognise individuals with varying degrees of experience.
For instance, an IT leadership award will be presented to a senior professional who possesses at least 15 years of experience and who plays a leading role in his or her company.
Meanwhile, professionals who have been in the field for at least 10 years and possess skills such as IT architecture design, software development, networking and database and operations management will compete for an IT professional competency award.
Less experienced individuals with outstanding project management and research and development skills will also have a chance to be awarded.
As a panel judge, Mr Lee stresses that the assessment criteria will be primarily based on a balance between creativity and practicality.
"We will also consider candidates who have a strong vision on the long-term potential for development and adaptability of particular IT applications," he says.
"In addition, candidates' execution and management abilities and whether they are adding value and contributing to the community will also be assessed," Mr Lee concludes.