A quarter-century ago, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI) was born, long before the sector — as it is today — was a $1.7-billion industry, making up six per cent of provincial gross domestic product.
Next week, the association celebrates 25 years, and reflects on how far the industry has come.
“The changes we’ve seen in the province probably mirror the changes in the technology industries in general,” said association chairman Gerard Duggan. “Certainly the advent of the Internet and the connected businesses in society has been quite significant. We’re not unique in that way; it’s impacted the technology industry quite a lot.”
Much has changed over the 25 years the association has been existence, and the pace of change has accelerated, said Duggan. “If you go back 25 years, we would have seen activity in the technology sector, but not moving at the pace of change we see in this particular decade,” he said. “The emergence of information and communications technology is a
driver of business competitiveness and becoming integral to any organization’s success in any industry these days.
“Twenty-five years ago, information and communications technology was more of just a pure sector on its own. What’s different these days is that it’s ubiquitous in almost any industry. And any industry is going to have to have successful technology as part of their strategy in order to be competitive, so that’s a significant change.”
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Also important, said Duggan, is that the growth of the local industry is now providing opportunities for local graduates to stay here and work rather than leave the province.
The development of a local base of knowledge and experience will also be important for the province’s economic diversification, said Ron Taylor, the association’s CEO.
“If you look at some of the oil-based economies around the world, starting with Houston or Dubai or Aberdeen, the North Sea oil — most of those regions actually looked at technology as something that they invested in heavily, because they realized once their oil and gas is finished, technology would be a huge player in driving the future prosperity in those regions,” said Taylor. “So it bodes well that we’re seeing such growth in our sector here. We’re $1.7 billion of the economy here and six per cent of the GDP. That’s huge, and that continues to grow at a great rate here.”
The association is marking its anniversary Jan. 29 with a celebration at The Rooms, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Association members and their partners will reflect on the successes of the last quarter century and explore where the association will head, said Taylor.