'IT - The Key to Better Performance' will be one of the themes to be discussed at the symposium. The session will be chaired by Robert Savage, general manager, Government and Education Industries, IBM China/HK. He will focus on where the industry stands in Hong Kong and what needs to be done to foster it. 'I expect the audience will mainly be professionals from the IT industry and I hope to leave about half of the session free for them to comment or put forward ideas,' he said. 'The Government has not asked for a written report but the whole objective is to start to map out areas for future collaboration between the Government and service industries, and between industries. One example was finding the right regulatory systems.' Mr Savage pointed out that, for the IT industry, the Government had a large enough critical mass to act as a catalyst for the industry's development. 'I think it is a good thing to hold the symposium, although it might have been held earlier,' he said. 'If Hong Kong is going to continue to compete, then there are things we ought to be getting on with which need government or private-sector assistance and which we have to address. 'As an example, we must see students graduate from our education system who are prepared to participate in a service economy. 'The language of a service economy is English. Therefore, we need to improve the English ability of our students.' One of the IT session panellists, Yeung Kwok-keung, is chairman of the Information Technology Committee of the Industry and Technology Development Council. 'I believe the symposium will be of use if it arouses general awareness to the fact that the Government and commercial interests have at last got together in the hope of doing something pro-active about the industry's structure,' he said. 'I hope it will also heighten awareness that, instead of complaining that money-generating manufacturing has largely moved out of Hong Kong, we should recognise the change and see it not as a problem but as an opportunity.' Although for 20 or 30 years the Government had adopted the view that business knew best, Mr Yeung said more people thought that, as the economy progressed to more sophisticated industries and smaller entities, some leadership was needed to steer the economy to its goals and objectives and that only the Government could be responsible for this role. 'IT will play a key role in the transformation to a service economy and in helping service industries to excel,' he said. A third panellist in the IT session will be Agnes Mak, president of the Hong Kong Computer Society who said IT could improve a service company's competitiveness. 'A large number of Hong Kong enterprises operate in a global market and provide services internationally and the provision of accurate information in a timely manner is crucial to their success,' she said. 'Computer and telephone technologies are converging and this combination is both technically feasible and economically viable.' Ms Mak said electronic commence was no longer simply EDI; it included such things as electronic banking and home shopping. 'If there is not enough training or not enough use of electronic commerce technology, we will lag behind our competitors.'