I’ve just read an article on WalesOnline about the need for a culture of “entrepreneurship and ICT”. I fundamentally agree with it, and I must say up front that this isn’t a criticism of the article’s author, who is the director of recruitment firm Acorn. I know next to nothing about the terminology used within recruitment, and what is appropriate and up to date.
However, it did remind me of the repeated use of the phrase “ICT” I’ve seen in much of the public sector (as well as the national press and some corporate and learning institutions) over recent years. For example, Welsh Government’s steering group for this area is called the ICT Sector Panel, and until recently Wales’ largest digital event was tagged as one concerned with ICT (although in fairness, I know that the team behind that are working hard to make it more relevant to Wales’ digital companies).
I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard that phrase used by someone who actually works in this sector. If you were to ask someone what industry they worked in, or what their role was, you would hear words like “digital”, “tech”, “developer”, “coding”, “web”, etc etc. But I’d be amazed if you ever heard anyone say “Oh, I work in ICT”. It very much feels like a phrase that is conferred upon it by the public sector, rather than one that is used by the industry itself.
The thing is, impressions matter. And no matter how trivial or hair-splitting this point feels, when people are looking at Wales from outside, they will form opinions on the simplest of things. We are already seen as a rural, post-industrial country, so we need to go to extra lengths to ensure we’re seen as a more progressive nation.
I tweeted about this a few minutes ago, and almost instantly two local entrepreneurs who work in this sector tweeted back. I think Tom Lloyd’s point is particularly relevant:
Wales is a small, agile, smart, devolved nation. We have a genuinely brilliant opportunity to position ourselves as a world leader in the areas of innovation and digital. A few clever, cheap ideas could really throw the spotlight on us as a progressive nation, and put us at the forefront of a global knowledge economy. But it’s also the little things that could also be our undoing. So let’s have a moratorium on “ICT”, and start talking in terms more befitting of 2015.
UPDATE: A few further tweets from this morning, just to prove (to myself, as much as anyone else!) that I’m not alone in this thought…