IT Iindustry Attraction Project

Information Technology Enterprise in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia

An IT Industry Consultancy for the Great Southern Region Development Commission

Part 4: Strategies for Promotion of the Region


The aim of this phase of the study is to "From the capability statement and market information, advise and assist the GSDC to "sell" the opportunity to organisations targeted earlier and develop strategies for the ongoing marketing and promotion of the regions capability into the market place.". This would include-

  1. Identifying market segments within the IT industry where previous research under "1" has identified the Great Southern regions competitive advantage.
  2. Developing bottom line returns for potential investors, targeting specific IT market segments.
  3. From the above, develop a complete marketing strategy ready for joint execution by the GSDC and consultant.

IT Market Segments with Competitive Advantage.

As discussed in previous parts of this report, no market segments within the IT industry where the region has a competitive advantage have been identified. This lack of a competitive advantage is not unusual, as IT is not dependent on natural raw materials, or energy inputs. As noted in part 3 of this report, the primary industry of the region provides some potential for IT industry support. The region does have the advantage of a pleasant natural environment which would provide an attractive lifestyle for footloose teleworkers and other IT professionals. However, it is at a disadvantage being outside commuting distance to a capital city and not being on the populated eastern seaboard of Australia. A strategy which builds up IT industry capability organically is therefore proposed, to create a competitive base for expansion.

Developing bottom line returns for potential investors, targeting specific IT market segments.

As noted previously, the region has no specific advantages for potential investors. Regional areas generally experience less staff turnover and enjoy comparatively low leasing and staffing costs, which is an advantage to low-end call centre operations. But the Great Southern Region has no advantage over other regional areas.

The overall project aim of the project was to attract call/contact centres, and other small to medium size IT enterprises to the region. However, the work undertaken for this report indicates that this is not a viable strategy. In theory there is "location independence" in the increasingly global economy. In practice new businesses in Australia are being established alongside the old east coast capital cities and in regional areas nearby. The growing demand for on-line information and a rapid uptake of the Internet and other technologies in rural Australia is not, in itself, sufficient to attract businesses to the Great Southern region.

Alternative strategies would be for the region to build its IT industry organically, or use a major injection of external resources from government. The region does not have sufficient IT capability currently to attract medium or large IT businesses. Research shows that telephone call centres, which require a lower level of IT infrastructure, are unlikely to be attracted outside the populated east cost of Australia.

The study has identified micro and small businesses, and other resources in the region which could form the basis of an IT industry. Also web based call centres offers an opportunity for small scale development of a high value call centre industry.

However, the main determinant of the location of larger call centres in regional areas is political, not economic. The current Telstra call centre in the region is being down-sized, with the apparent intent to close the centre. This could only be reversed through political lobbying, not arguments as to the efficiency of the facility or the diligence of the work force. Indications as to economic and social circumstances to the region conducive to establishing operations in the region would not be effective in the political decision making process.

Marketing strategy: Organic Local Growth

The previous phases of the report indicate a number of areas which might be used to promote IT in the region. One success is the system of telecenters. These could be expanded to provide small web based call centres, time shared offices for micro businesses and distance education centres. Another success is the UWA satellite campus at Albany, as discussed in the second phase report. This could be expanded and a similar facility for TAFE education incorporated in the expanded telecenters.

The IT professionals and IT businesses of the region represent an untapped resource which could be exploited to encourage organic growth of businesses. If successful, this could then encourage others to move to the region. However, as discussed in the second phase report, individual IT professionals and micro-businesses may have motivations very different from those of large businesses, essentially being lifestyle choices. The business focus of initiatives such as those from regional development authorities may discourage, rather than encourage, these individuals to participate in projects. An example of the problems which can come is illustrated by the difficulties with community involvement in IT development projects in the South Coast region of New South Wales (TUG 1999). An approach through their peers, with social functions and ones addressing their technical areas of interest may be effective in avoiding these problems.

The region might benefit by a wider study, such as one under the Department of Transport and Regional Services' Regional Solutions Programme (DTRS 2000). This Federal Government initiative that will assist regional and rural communities build their capacity to identify and implement development opportunities.

Stay Here and Start an IT Business

The most stable and long term employment and economic benefits will come from people, such as those mentioned in part two, who have chosen to live in the region for its attractive lifestyle. Hidden in heritage listed buildings are small companies and individuals doing innovative IT in areas of education, publishing, support for primary industry and telecommunications. The success stories of individuals and organisations, emphasising the lifestyle benefits can be used the promote the region. The Internet and the web can be used as a low cost promotional vehicle, targeting people in the IT industry.

Some small and micro businesses of the region will grow to be larger businesses. However, they may better serve as an example to other businesses looking to set up. They also provide a support infrastructure for larger businesses that need expert services to operate.

One area that there may be potential in the region is in on-line multimedia for education. The ABC's multimedia unit is only a few minutes walk from the University of WA Centre. This provides the opportunity to combine the facilities to produce local multimedia material for education.

The region's timber and wine growing industries, combined with geographic information systems initiatives and the Albany Gateway provides another potential industry. Many thousands of people in other parts of Australia and around the world now have an interest in what happens in the region, though their investment in local primary production. Rather than just receiving an occasional printed report on how their investment is going, those people could be provided with live online reports from the region via the web. This could use online mapping to show where their investment is, environmental information to show the current local conditions and even web cameras to show what work is being done.

The Albany Gateway could provide details of local events, accommodation and other facilities. The investors could be encouraged to make a tax deductible visit to see how their investment is faring (while doing some whale watching).

Specific Initiatives:

Enhance the GSDC Web Site

The highest priority for IT marketing of the region should be to improve the visibility of the IT resources of the region online. The Great Southern Development Corporation's recently launched web site provides a platform from which could be provided detailed information about the region, its existing businesses and development opportunities. An example of a modest web design which could be emulated is that of the ACT Government's Information Industries Development Board.

The GSDC web site is linked from Albany Gateway portal, which provides the opportunity to cross promote the lifestyle features of the region and IT business opportunities. Detailed information will see the region considered for investment by web and Internet based organisations, who will see a good quality web site as an indication of competence in IT by the region.

The Corporation should adopt a policy of placing on the web site the content of all new promotional material, such as brochures, media releases and advertisements. Material should be designed to be left on the site at a fixed address permanently. The web address of the general site should be on all promotional material, alongside the physical address of the organization. Special topic based addresses (such as for an event) should be used in advertisements and on media releases and brochures. The web addresses should be kept to less than 76 characters, so that they can be easily e-mailed, and preferably much shorter than this.

The web addresses of events and publications should be used for cross-promotion in the conventional media. As an example the Australian newspaper provides a free directory entry for IT events each Tuesday. Computer magazines and newspapers frequently provide free one paragraph items on new publications and resources. By including a web address in such listings, both the particular event and the region as a whole can be promoted.

The Corporation could sponsor an on-line directory of businesses in the region and actively support businesses to have a web presence and Internet access. One model is the Directory of the IT Industry in Western Sydney. This could be done directly, or through assistance to local business associations. The database should be directly readable via the web without the need for registration or a password. Also the data in the database should be displayed in the form of ordinary web pages. This free access will allow the database contents to be indexed by web search engines and easily found by potential clients. Many organizations make the mistake of stopping web search engines from having access to their databases, preventing potential clients from finding the information.

Meta-data, such as keywords, added to the web site will result in Great Southern web pages appearing nearer the top of searches by web search engines. At least the description and keywords tags should be used:

The meta-data and Robots.txt document should be checked to ensure web search engines are being asked to index the pages (under the The Robot Exclusion Standard, some or all pages can be excluded from searching).

Additional meta-data tags could be included, in accordance with the Business Entry Point metadata specification (BEP 1999). This will allow automatic inclusion of the information in the web site and other directories using the Dublin Core standard.

Links to the site should be solicited from organizations with reputable web sites (such as government agencies and industry associations) and, if possible, from high volume sites (such as on-line magazines and newspapers). These can be international links, such as from UNESCO's Observatory on the Information Society. As well as providing increased direct access to the site from the links, some search engines rate web sites by the number and quality of such links. More and better links will improve the ranking of the site. Where links are solicited from key organisations, the links should be checked. As an example, the WA Government's Business and Investment Gateway has an non-working link for the GSDC (as at 30 November 2000).

The web site should be modified to pass the Bobby accessibility test and preferably also conform with the W3C Recommendation Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. In addition to providing access for the disabled, the guidelines encourage web designs which are easily indexed by web search engines and which load quickly

The Corporation will need to train its staff in how to use e-mail to promote the web site, in particular how to write mail messages which meet the acceptable use policy of online forums. As an example the Corporation's non-commercial status can be exploited, which allows it to undertake marketing in on-line mailing lists and other forums not available to the for-profit companies of the region. Local people in professional associations and other organizations, should also be asked to pass on promotional items (including web links) through their organization's internal lists.

IT Industry Mailing Lists and Publications for the Promotion of the Region

In addition to electronic versions of conventional newspapers and magazines, there an many free electronic mailing lists, news-groups and web sites run by associations and companies. In general members can send an item direct to their association mailing lists and anyone can post to the news-groups. Entries in web pages are by request to the editor and may also be published in print newsletters. In all cases postings receive a better response if brief, posted by a member of the organization and are for a public interest activity. Long for-profit advertisements by PR personnel are generally unwelcome and may be blocked. Further tips on the use of lists are available in How to Read and Write E-mail Messages.

Newsletter/web directory

PAGE ONE Industry Newsletter from interData

Organisations with mailing lists and news groups

Organization Web Address News group
Australian Computer Society
Systems Administrators Guild of Australia
Australian UNIX and Open Systems User Group
Records Management Association of Australia
Internet Society
West Australian Internet Association

General discussion news groups

Topic News Group
Recreation, Travel, Australia and NZ
Australian education
Western Australia General wa.general
Western Australia Seminars wa.seminar

Examples of Promotion of the Region with IT Industry Mailing Lists and Publications

As part of the project electronic mailing lists and newsgroups were used to collect information and act as a model for promotion of the region. A web site was created at the start of the project and material progressively added featuring businesses in the region. Requests for information were issued online quoting the web address.

Sample messages

Subject: Net Traveller to Australia's Great Southern Region 29 May to 2 June

Date: 28 May 2000 00:00:00 GMT Distribution: world


Distribution: world

I wrote Sat, 19 Mar 1994 09:22:37 GMT (was: "Hi-tech tourist in Europe in April"):

>Can you suggest any hi-tech related tourist activities for an Australian

>computer person in Europe in April? ... I get a bit bored on holiday

>looking at historic buildings and waterfalls...

My next visit will be to the Great Southern Region of West Australia, May 29 to 2 June 2000. As with previous net travels I would be interested in suggestions as to what high technology aspects of the region to look at (as well as tourist attractions) and who to visit.

This is the latest in what has turned into a six year odyssey, including visits to centers of learning and involvement with the Internet in military exercises. This is described in my book "Net Traveller - Exploring the Networked Nation":

This trip is part of a project to attract call/contact centres, and other small to medium size IT enterprises for the Great Southern Region Development Commission. See:

The Great Southern region is an hour by plane from Perth. It includes the historic whaling town of Albany; the wines and wildflowers of Mt Barker; the gourmet foods, forests and art of Denmark; and the rural farm areas and national parks further north. See the web site for links to tourist information.

In terms of IT, the region already hosts a Telstra Call Centre with 40 staff, located in the town of Katanning. Design Correlations is an Australian owned company located in Albany, which specializes in making Numerically Controlled (NC) machinery and in particular a NC Plasma Cutter of which over thirty are in operation throughout Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia. Details are on the web site and other hi-tech businesses in the region might like to contact me for a visit and to be added.

On my way to the region (Perth Monday 29 May) I will be discussing the project with state government officials and talking about recent work on e-business for the Federal Government: There is the opportunity to stop off in Perth on the way back (Friday 2 June), if corporate or government people would like to discuss this or other projects.

Subject: IT&T cluster muster, Albany WA, 30 November 2000

Date: 23 Nov 2000 00:00:00 GMT

Distribution: world


Those in, or with an association with, the region around Albany WA, might be interested in this slightly eccentric invitation from the Great Southern Development Commission for a free seminar Thursday, 30th November, 2000:


You are invited to the Great Southern regions... Information Technology & Technology cluster muster

To cluster - existing resource utilisation can be maximised to create advantages that are greater than the sum of their parts. A muster - to collect or gather together (the whole Great Southern regions IT & T people) into one place.

Why ? (from our regional respondents) "... a meeting of the minds rather than a knocking of the heads, networking, knowing what others are doing, others to complement what I'm doing, crunch a carrier problem, consider an IT park, ramp up the regions skills, do great things with young people and involve them in an exciting industry, dealing with the IT ego and finding ways to work together, build a directory of IT & T firms and abilities, consider new product development with others...." Be stimulated by

* Dr David Waddell (Curtin Uni): Relationships of trust, outside the contract (Optus/Curtin)

* Stuart Hope (Software Engineering Australia): Lessons learnt in fostering innovation, virtual incubation

* Bob Gunn (Consultant): Young potential

* Gill Sellar (Albany gateWAy): What drives sustainable communities of interest

* Peter Morris (Telesis Communications): Clusters and bridal wear, co-opetition, worldwide work

When Thursday, 30th November, 2000 Where 10:30am-3:00pm, Esplanade Hotel, Middleton Beach, Albany.

Cost No cost , but seats are limited, and RSVP with details is required:


ps: See also my IT industry attraction report:

Involve IT Industry and Professionals

The existing local IT industry and local IT professionals are the most valuable marketing tool available to promote the region. The most convincing reason to set up an IT business is to see a successful business by one's peers already operating. The involvement of IT people, individually and through organisations, in promotion and development should be sought. Any campaign which targets big business from outside the region should be undertaken in consultation with local people, so that they do not feel isolated from the process and can use their contacts with colleagues as part of the campaign.

One option for encouraging local interaction by IT professionals would be for the sponsorship an IT development meeting under the guise of drinks at the local pub. Such a forum has been operating in Canberra for several years, under the name " Internet Reality Check ". In the Cambridge phenomenon (Segal 1985), Segal Quince & Partners discuss the role of the Cambridge Technology Association (previously Cambridge Computer Group) which grew out of a meeting in July 1979 to encourage co-operation and support among new computer companies. The group provided moral support for new small companies, financial and business service firms could identify opportunities from the start-up computer companies and local authorities could see a new industry to encourage. This in part resulted in Cambridge being one of the major locations for the IT industry.

Create a Chapter of the Australian Computer Society

The Australian Computer Society has provision for regionally based chapters. The Western Australian Branch currently has no chapters, but the NSW and Queensland branches have three each. Chapters are easily established by a branch on receipt of a proposal by local members

In addition to providing a local forum for IT professionals to exchange ideas, a chapter provides a link to the ACS nationally and to sister societies internationally. Announcements of events by the chapter will appear in online and printed publications by the state and national organisation, acting as free advertising for the region. Similar chapters and special interest groups could be formed with other professional bodies (such as accountants). Where there are not sufficient members to run separate activities, they can be held jointly by one committee representing several national bodies.

Create an Electronic Commerce Association of The Great Southern Region

The Electronic Commerce Association of Central Victoria is a non-profit, community-based organisation formed two years ago in recognition of the need to raise awareness about, and to foster the rapid uptake of, emerging technologies by both business and the wider communities. A body with similar aims would benefit the Great Southern Region. In addition to helping local people get together to exchange ideas, it can be used to support government grants for IT development and through its activities promote the hi-tech reputation of the region.

Have Industry Awards and Scholarships

Industry awards can be used to showcase excellence and innovation. An example is the Western Sydney Industry Awards, officially launched 4 August 2000.Such awards need not have large cash prizes and may attract funding from companies and government.

The existence of the UWA satellite campus at Albany provides the opportunity for academic awards, to raise the profile of the region. Minor projects could be used to promote the region by having them cross linked between the UWA and GSDC web sites. The UWA Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering has an active research program.and, like all such institutions, seeks real world problems to work on. Small awards and grants could be offered to IT students of UWA for projects of relevance to GSR and rural and regional areas in general. Major awards could include a visit to the region as part of the prize.

Market to Web Call Centres

There is an inherent contradiction between traditional call centres needs for a low paid work-force and other IT industries, with a highly paid work force. Promotion of the region as suitable for call centres marks it as a depressed area with underemployed cheap labour with few skills. It is suggested that web based call centres be emphasised, as these are "up market".

Lobby for Telstra Call Centre

While conventional call centres are not suggested as a priority for IT development in the region, the existence of a Telstra Call Centre at Katanning is a valuable resource. As well as providing employment, the centre is the most effective tool available to convince investors that the region would be suitable for further call centres. Also, with the nearby telecenter, it could form the nucleus for more IT development in the town.

However, the location of Telstra call centres is currently a highly political issue. It cannot be assumed that the centre will be retained, despite the work record of the staff. In the absence of action, the centre will most likely be closed. Key business, community and political leaders in the region need to be briefed, so they can lobby Telstra and the Federal Government to retain and expand the facility, or replace it with a new centre in the region.

Expand the Telecenters

Regional Telecentres, such as that at Katanning, have the potential to provide a range of services to micro-business and SMEs. There is the potential to collocate small web based call centres, business centres and business incubators with the Telecentres. The infrastructure for a Telecentre, internet cafe, call centre, computer based instruction and business centre is essentially the same. Larger Telecentres could be flexibly equipped to provide all these functions as demand required.

Use the University of WA Albany centre

The University of WA Albany Centre provides a major marketing opportunity for the region. As well as its use for education, the Albany centre could be a focus for activities by IT professionals and a useful resource for business . The facilities could be used for business meetings and for developing multimedia product presentations.
One use of the University to promote the region is to hold endorsed events. An example is the Get Smart Conference, 14 and 15 December 2000 at Central Queensland University, Rockhampton. The conference is organised around a series of invited lectures from guest speakers. The topic ison-line communities, telecentres, teledemocracy, telehealth, community portals, learning communities.
The Get Smart Conference coincides with the launch of Central Queensland University's Smart City Projects, particularly the COIN project and the City of Rockhampton Telecentre.  As such, the conference is
planned as a key event in the promotion of these projects. Promotion of such events provides a channel for marketing the region. Advertisements for university sponsored events are distributed on-line and through free advertising in the media to the IT community. These advertising channels are not available to conventional commercial paying advertisers.

Use Multimedia for marketing

ABC Radio's Multimedia Unit, collocated with ABC Radio South Coast carries out experimental and production development of digital content for ABC Radio and ABC TV. The Unit has facilities for making video, either for use with conventional TV (and with some broadcast by ABC in WA) and for use in web-based multimedia. The existence of the Unit in the region provides the opportunity to showcase the region online to potential investors. Local IT success stores could be promoted through a series of commercially produced short video documentaries, similar to the ABC TV's "snapshots". These could be placed on-line for direct viewing and made available for use by TV stations.


  1. Segal (1985) The Cambridge phenomenon : the growth of high technology industry in a university town, Segal Quince & Partners, Hall Keeper's House, 42 Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AJ, England, 1985, ISBN 095102020X (summary at:

  2. BEP (1999) Metadata Specification for BEP, Business Entry Point Management Branch of Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, 1999, URL:

Further Information

Web page by Tomw Communications Pty Ltd A.C.N. 088 714 309 for the Great Southern Development Commission - Comments to: