Advocating for technology governance
Editor's WriteWednesday, June 09, 2021
TECHNICAL professionals' organisations play a significant role in the development and sustainability of our budding IT sector. However, local entities providing this service are not supported well enough for optimal governance and performance.
We can expect many unknowns from the information age, which will continue to drive our IT professionals' training and development including the governing policies and laws introduced to sustain the industry. Along with continuous technology will also come new challenges that will need support and intervention from technology experts. What will be the source of this support?
Several challenges are facing the current professional organisations, hurdles that threaten their sustainability. These include: lack of understanding of the critical role they play; low prioritisation of professional (volunteer) organisations against the competing needs of other (revenue) organisations like incubators and accelerators; inadequate support from IT professionals and the companies who employ them; and reliance on the sector as a whole.
There is a general desire of sector professionals and other persons of interest to see things done but an unwillingness to participate in the process, a reluctance to stand in the arena. While globally there has been an uptick in membership and general corporate and governmental support of organisations catering to the technology profession, this is not the case in Jamaica. Locally, we have seen a steady decline in governmental, corporate and local membership support for organisations of this nature.
In addition, in the past year there has been a significant increase in the number of overseas firms that have reached out to either join, partner, support or do business with Jamaican organisations that provide a community for tech professionals as well as governance and training. We are returning to the days where IT is a bolt-on as opposed to an enabler. Global events around ransomware and data privacy, protection, and the increased digital divide should be teaching us otherwise.
It seems we conveniently overlook the point that members of organisations of this kind championed the fact that many of society's digital privileges, including the Internet, are available on this island. In more recent times, MSMEs have benefited from advocacy through the SME Go Digital initiative, and the pan chicken man can continue doing business in a pandemic due to ENDS. How about education? It turns out that members of professional organisations lead both UWI and UTech's computing departments. So the validation for support is there. What's missing are people coming to the table asking, “How can we help?” and bringing the resources needed to assist.
We need advocacy for the advocates and resources to support critical initiatives that develop the sector and its professionals and vendors. IT professionals, departments and the companies that benefit from their work should consider becoming champions, members and advocates. If there was ever a time to be involved in a transformational movement, it is now.
Guest editorial by the Jamaica Technology and Digital Alliance.
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