'The greatest challenges are still the basics of doing business'

'The greatest challenges are still the basics of doing business'
David Lee, Partner – Technology Consulting, PwC

David Lee, Partner – Technology Consulting, PwC on the obstacles facing modern technology leaders

How long are you in your current role and what are your day to day responsibilities?

I returned to PwC Ireland two years ago where I am a Partner leading our Technology Consulting practice. I am responsible for growing our business in Ireland and managing our technology consulting engagements for our clients across the private and public sector in Ireland.

What is your professional background?

I graduated from UCD in 1991 with a Masters in Management Science and Bachelor of Commerce degree. More recently I have completed a post graduate programme in Strategy & Innovation at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. Since graduation I have worked for over 25 years in the IT consulting sector both locally and internationally.

What is your particular area of expertise?

My prime area of focus is on working with clients to realise the business benefits associated with the
effective use of technology. This covers helping them in the planning and evaluation of technologies and supporting them through the implementation and adoption phases of their systems programmes.

How do you see your role developing in 5 years’ time?

I see organisations becoming increasingly focused on the adoption phases of technology projects. Simply ‘going live’ with a new technology is no guarantee that the targeted business benefits will be realised. Our clients are increasingly seeing the need to prepare for, and plan and measure adoption rates. This is a change in mind set and puts people rather than technology in the spotlight. I see our services to client evolving to reflect this change.

What advice would you give someone adopting a CIO role for the first time?
Understand the company business strategy, get to know your team, understand their skills and develop an IT strategy that fits with the business strategy. PwC’s latest Digital IQ survey amongst Ireland’s IT and Digital leaders revealed that half of digital initiatives are not delivering and a similar proportion admitted that the lack of properly skilled teams is a barrier for achieving expected results. It is very important that your strategy is aligned to the business and that you have the people with the right skills to execute it.

What are the greatest challenges facing modern technology leaders?
I think some of the greatest challenges are still the basics of doing business. Having a great team with the right skills and being able to retain the best people as our economy returns to full employment will continue to be a challenge. It’s really important that you lead by example, supporting your people when they need it, being able to trust and delegate. Communications is really important, collaborating with other parts of the business and with your stakeholders.

There is no doubt that technology is leading the way and is transforming business – how humans work with machines will be very important. Automation of jobs is happening and how this is handled is critical. Recognising the opportunities that robotics and emerging technologies can deliver and how they are integrated into business will separate the winners from the losers.

How do you think a CIO can best support company revenue growth?
PwC’s 2017 Digital IQ research revealed that Irish companies lag global peers when it comes to
investment in emerging technologies. For example, just one in two plan to invest in artificial intelligence compared to 63% globally. We are seeing many companies struggling to raise their digital IQ and this is where CIOs can really make a difference. As a CIO, it is critical that they support the investment in digital solutions if they want to be really successful. We still see companies failing to fully drive revenue results from digital technology investments. Having a high Digital IQ is really about integration – the business, the customer and employee experience and the technology – to build one cohesive and transformation solution. That is what will really give an organisation’s competitive edge.


David Lee will be speaking at the CIO & IT Leaders Summit on September 12th in Croke Park. Tickets for this event can be purchased at ciosummit.ie 

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