In Hong Kong the assimilation of modern innovations is evident, with technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS) and radio frequency identification (RFID) used daily by many people.
Spurred by IT innovation, many of Hong Kong's traditional economic pillars have successfully embraced today's new economy, for instance, by utilising electronic commerce for business and real-time management systems to monitor supply chains and improve logistics. Through the use of such technologies, businesses can leverage their advantage to gain a stronger foothold in the global stage.
"By recognising outstanding IT professionals in Hong Kong, we hope to set a good example for integrating service and technology and further explore the potential of IT for revenue growth," reveals Samson Tam, chairman, Group Sense Ltd.
Acknowledging the significance of IT to economic development, the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS) together with Career Times are co-organising the HKCS Outstanding IT Achiever Awards 2008.
Dr Tam, who is chairperson of the competition's organising committee, remarks upon the evolution the local IT industry has undergone throughout the years. "In the past, IT was only used in accounting but now it has become an indispensable element in almost every organisation's operation, because it gives fresh impetus to service modernisation across industries."
As IT increasingly gains ground in Hong Kong's business environment, it serves as an effective platform to launch several management initiatives.
Dr Tam cites a case where IT can improve corporate governance. "Many people are concerned about the recent food safety issues in mainland China. One of the reasons is the difficulty in relaying messages from customers to top enterprise management due to multiple layers of middle management. IT can provide a networking platform for internal communication and public feedback on the quality of food products, and make the enterprises more transparent to all involved parties, including the consumers," he says.
The thriving IT sector has experienced some of the most rapid growth in the last decade. "There is inevitably short-term pressure on recruitment," Dr Tam observes of the profession's current career trends. "However, we anticipate a growing demand for IT talent in the next six to 12 months because the Asian economy should gradually revive by that time," he adds.
Recognising IT as a professional platform and an integral part of modern business, Dr Tam is optimistic about the career prospects offered by the profession. "For many businesses, success relies on three essential flows: cash, products and information. The IT industry will expand and the number of openings will increase along with economic growth in the long run," he enthuses.
In addition to the necessary technical skills, Dr Tam advises young aspirants to equip themselves with business knowledge and take related academic courses. Such knowledge is crucial to understanding business models and problems, and hence formulating sensible technology solutions for companies.
While the growth of IT is encouraging in Hong Kong, the industry is booming in mainland China.
"Instead of competing with mainland China on technical programming, Hong Kong should position itself as an exporter of value-added services such as project management and business analysis advanced by IT," remarks Dr Tam. "We should focus on our strengths and develop a niche market within the industry."
Hong Kong has long enjoyed an edge with its professional services. Incorporating IT into the service industry can bring new business opportunities to the city, for example, electronic micropayment systems and cross-border electronic signatures.
"Not only do these IT applications bring convenience to local residents, but they also promote regional trade and commerce," he notes.
In Dr Tam's view, IT provides a beneficial platform to people from all walks of life. In particular, people can develop rewarding careers and companies can enjoy the advantages of technology.
"Responsible employers should appreciate the significance of IT in their businesses. At the same time, IT professionals should take the initiative to create value for their companies to create a win-win situation," he concludes.