It is common knowledge that people tend to measure success by monetary rewards and believe that mainstream disciplines such as law, business and accounting make more stable professions. However, the financial crisis has made people realise that job security in industries such as IT and engineering remains intact despite the economic situation.
This is the view of Thomas Lee, project manager of the University of Hong Kong. "Companies will be more open to innovative solutions to streamline their operations or to realign their business strengths," he confirms.
Mr Lee is a co-founder of the university's Center for E-Commerce Infrastructure Development (CECID). He developed an open-source software (OSS) for business-to-business (B2B) collaboration which has attracted users from all over the world, enabling the "made in Hong Kong" technology to be exported overseas.
Mr Lee, together with Jack Lee, associate professor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Department of Information Engineering; and Andy Chun, associate professor of the City University of Hong Kong's Department of Computer Science, are the winners of an IT Research Award in the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS) IT Achiever Awards 2008.
"At the moment, Hong Kong may offer only a small market for the development of software technology. However, it is only a matter of time before we commercialise innovation to make it viable in the business environment, and applicable to places outside of Hong Kong," stresses Dr Lee, whose network-centric solution allows for internet-on-mobile service offerings to local 3G mobile users.
Meanwhile, Dr Chun notes that the IT profession is more than a technically and intellectually demanding profession.
"The industry is moving fast and people who have the enthusiasm for continuous learning, research and improvement will eventually reap the rewards," he emphasises.
A pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) design in Hong Kong, Dr Chun says being able to turn innovative ideas into widely used applications is critical to a successful IT R&D project.
"For this reason, we must always seek to understand the business needs of clients in order to make a technology viable and beneficial to the business setting," he explains.
While IT research and development in Hong Kong is at a relatively early stage, Mr Lee says Hong Kong provides an ideal platform for IT professionals to grow. He notes that Hong Kong's IT elites have the necessary creativity, international exposure and business experience to ensure growth of the industry.
Dr Lee concurs, "Hong Kong has a strong telecommunications infrastructure as well as a solid business and logistics foundation that encourages enterprises and the government to strive for the next level of growth with technology."