AIIA’s new chair to tackle deficit

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Australian Information Industry Association has a new chair, elected at its annual general meeting in Brisbane on Thursday 3 November. He is John Paitaridis, universally known as JP, managing director of Optus Business. He previously served as one of the AIIA’s two deputy chairs.

JP is well known in the industry. He joined Optus four years ago to help boost its credentials as a provider to the business community. He was previously with arch-rival Telstra for many years, in a variety of senior sales and management roles, most recently as managing director of Telstra Enterprise and Government.

His election to the AIIA chair is effective immediately.

Rob Fitzpatrick: After a period of consolidation, the AIIA is to sharpen its focus

Mr Paitaridis said in a statement that he intended the AIIA to have a greater focus on nurturing partnerships and collaboration.

“The AIIA has a significant role to play in leading and promoting the ICT sector. To do so, it needs a big vision and clear agenda, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
And a challenge it will be.

The AIIA is still in a parlous financial situation, the result of financial mismanagement and bad business judgements going back ten years. Between 2005 and 2011 it made significant losses – except for a small profit in 2010. It has lost money again in the last two years, including a massive $443,000 loss in the 2015-16 financial year, on revenues of $4.7 million.

It has been more successful in increasing revenues from events and sponsorships, though these barely cover the cost of sales. Its biggest event is the annual iAwards, held in each state and nationally, which lost $259,000 last year.

The bad financial news was delivered at the AGM by Charles Lindop, CEO of KTM Capital, who was re-elected as treasurer.

Membership fees – and the number of members – are declining, and have not been meeting targets.

Membership is down to just 281 – only 59 of whom are from medium and large IT companies, and from which the large majority (79 per cent) of the membership revenues come. The organisation has a complex sliding membership scale, with larger vendors paying massively more than the SMEs and micro-businesses that comprise the bulk of the membership.

Off the record, many members and those who know the organisation well have told that all is not well.

The AIIA has often been criticised for representing the interests of multinational vendors over those of smaller indigenous companies.

A key complaint, often repeated, has been that the board no longer has a strong representation from the CEOs of the very largest vendors, and that it is not as cohesive as it was.

Mr Paitaridis replaces Kee Wong, founder and managing director of technology management consultancy e-Centric Innovations, who did not recontest the position of chairman, but who was re-elected to the board.

Mr Wong had been chair since 2012. The two new deputy chairs are Elizabeth Vega, CEO of Informed Solutions, and Mike Pym, CEO of Pyms Technology Lawyers, both of whom were previously on the board.

There were four elected positions to be filled among the 16 person board. As well as Mr Paitaridis and Mr Wong, Kate Burleigh (managing director Intel Australia) and Marie Johnson, (managing director and chief digital officer, Centre for Digital Business) were re-elected.

Three members stood down, and an additional three board positions will be appointed over the next three months.

Other board members are:

  • Mark Nicholls, managing director, Information Professionals
  • Martijn Blanken, group managing director and chief customer officer, Telstra
  • Matt Codrington, executive director Australia & New Zealand, Lenovo
  • Murray Hurps, general manager, Fishburners
  • Pip Marlow, managing director, Microsoft Australia
  • Peter Strohkorb, CEO, Peter Strohkorb Consulting International

Retiring from the board were Peter McGrath (former CEO of Nextgen), Martjin Blankin (chief customer officer at Telstra) and Rob Hillard (technology leader at Deloitte).

The AIIA press release quotes CEO Rob Fitzpatrick saying the organisation wants to sharpen its focus and extend its relevance after a period of consolidation.

“Strategic plan”. “Consolidation”. “Sharpen our focus”. ”Extend our relevance”.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who has been in the day-to-day management role since January this year, and Mr Paitaridis, have a big job ahead of them.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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