IT users combine forces in bid to attract experts

By Joseph Aldridge

Some of the Bay of Plenty's biggest IT users have banded together to form an information sharing and resource attraction group.

The group, named Rhubarb, was formed last year.

Zespri chairman, Andrew Goodin, said Rhubarb was about making the Bay a more attractive place for information and communication technologies (ICT) and providing the resources local companies need.

The members of the group were looking for opportunities to share ICT resources, Mr Goodin said. "That way we can try to create some scale because one of the challenges we have in the Bay of Plenty is scale. It's very, very difficult at times, even though its a beautiful location, to entice people here."

Bay of Plenty Polytech IT manager Rabindra Das said business intelligence was an area that could be used to attract permanent specialists to the Bay.

Business intelligence was normally done in one big hit and work tapered off afterwards, making it difficult for companies to employ a specialist, he said.

"We might only need five hours a week after the initial set-up, so potentially that's an area where among the group there might be a requirement there to have a specialist."

Cucumber Consulting manager Ian Gray said Rhubarb excelled at finding areas of need so IT service providers could get appropriate training or personnel.

"If these guys need some skills, companies who are talking to them can go and find these skills and bring them back to the Bay. The members of Rhubarb are consciously looking to share knowledge in areas where they can have a common platform so they can go out as a group and acquire some of these skills and know that the people who are coming on board can be utilised across companies, not just within companies for a short period of time."

Furthermore, a knowledge of the particular IT skills needed in the Bay helped the polytech to tailor its IT courses, Mr Das said.

Mr Goodin said Rhubarb had assembled its membership from large, like-minded IT users in the Bay and looked to expand in the future.

The Bay of Plenty Polytech, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Western Bay District Council, Scion Research, TrustPower, Craigs Investment Partners, C3, Zespri and Cucumber were all members.

In the coming year, Rhubarb would look to bring specialist IT experts to the Bay to address the group and might open the events to the wider public, Mr Goodin said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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