The CSIRO ICT Centre hosted a seminar on Friday about "ICT and the Productivity Debate". James Shaw from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts talked about research on how to work out how much ICT contributes to efficiency in the economy.
This sounds alike a dry and dull topic and not one computer types would be interested in. But we have the paradox that while a lot of computers and telecommunications are being used, economists are saying this don't increase productivity. Business and government leaders listen to the economists and ask why we spend so much on all this stuff, if it doesn't make things more efficient.
To explore this paradox, DCITA funded research to produce better measures of efficiency. These show about a 40 to 80% productivity boost with technology. Of course it is the Information Economy Division of the Department funding this work, so you might suspect the researchers are telling them what they want to hear. ;-)
ps: James will be speaking at SEARCC 2005 in Sydeny at the end of the month.