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THE INTERVIEW | DANIEL LAI, HONG KONG GOVERNMENT CIO

F.Y. Teng | Sept. 23, 2013
After an illustrious 45-year career in the private sector, Hong Kong's CIO opted for public service and is now leading the charge for ICT-enabled collaboration across borders and onto the Cloud.

In your evaluation, how is Hong Kong's ICT industry doing?
In terms of IT infrastructure, Hong Kong is doing extremely well. Mobile phone penetration is at 23 (note: latest figure as at June 2013) percent. Household fixed broadband penetration is at 85 percent (note: latest figure as at Jun 2103-www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/docs/telecommunications.pdf). And very recently, Hong Kong's average broadband peak connection speeds became the fastest in the world, at 57.5 megabits per second, beating South Korea [which registered 49.3Mbps]. (Akamai State of the Internet Report Q4 2012.)

In terms of ICT talent, we have 78,000 ICT professionals. However, we are seeing a drop in the number of students taking up IT-related subjects in secondary schools. So we are continuing our work on encouraging more secondary school students to pursue a career in the industry.

In terms of application development, I think Hong Kong has been doing very well in the area of mobile apps. We are seeing a lot of very innovative ideas coming from startups. And we have companies like Cherrypicks [mobile marketing firm], which is gaining a lot of global recognition.

What are you charged with doing as the HKGCIO?
One of my responsibilities is to promote the ICT industry in Hong Kong. I do that in a number of ways through my office. My mission, the mission of the government, is to first of all deliver effective and citizen-centric services for the public. Second is to cultivate and develop ICT talent in Hong Kong, ensuring we have continued competency and professionalism. Third is to develop a vibrant ICT industry. Fourth is to develop Hong Kong as a prime spot on the globe for data centre location, cloud computing services and mobile application development. And last but not least is to help build a digitally inclusive and knowledge-based society; digital inclusion, bridging the digital divide, is a significant part of my job.

The typical term of the HKGCIO is three years, so you no doubt must have been approached for the post numerous times before in the last decade, without accepting it, of course. Why did you say yes to it this time around in 2012?
This time I felt that in my 13 years with MTR, we had done a lot and gone through a lot. When I started with the company it was fairly staid, institutional. Then it went IPO. Then the merger with KCRC happened, even as we expanded overseas running operations in Melbourne, Stockholm and further into China. Along the way, as our business grew and evolved, we made sure technology not only worked to support but in part drive its growth and transformation.

 

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