Market-relevance is a shield against layoffs in Hong Kong's Tech Industry – EY’s David Chen

The EY Partner emphasized the need for the Hong Kong technology industry to be as “market relevant” and “value adding” as possible

Hong Kong's technology industry is at a critical juncture, seeking avenues for growth, sustainability, and innovation. Whilst considered a global hub for finance, trade, and connectivity, Hong Kong also faces the challenge of keeping pace with technological advancements amidst emerging trends and evolving consumer demands.

David Chen, a Partner in Technology Consulting at Ernst & Young has consistently demonstrated his expertise in digital transformation initiatives across the region.

Amongst his many roles he leads EY’s Digital Emerging Technology and Technology Transformation competencies for the financial services sector in Hong Kong. He also serves as EY's Microsoft Alliance Lead in Greater China for the financial services sector. 

With over 22 years of experience in the financial services industry, David has an impressive track record of success in technology advisory and implementation across the insurance, banking, and wealth & asset management sectors. He has been instrumental in leading large-scale digital transformation programmes throughout the Asia-Pacific region from developing comprehensive strategies to executing and adopting innovative technologies, he has consistently delivered tangible results for clients in the region. 

Hong Kong Business had a conversation with David to discuss his insights on the Top Talent Pass Scheme, the prevention of layoffs, ESG compliance, and performance improvement in the tech industry.

With the recently implemented Top Talent Pass Scheme giving highlight to the need for tech professionals in Hong Kong, how will this help the region’s tech industry to rebound? What are the implications of this scheme for the industry’s long-term future?

The Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) will allow professionals to be in Hong Kong for an extended period of time before they find a job here. This flexibility will open the door for more technology professionals to come to Hong Kong instead of waiting for a working visa and will enable those that are overseas and “sitting on the fence” to come sooner rather than later.  

The scheme will help the industry’s long-term future; however it is all relative. Other countries in Asia have already introduced similar schemes. So the challenge for the HK government will be how to make HK’s TTPS even more attractive for overseas individuals in light of what other countries are doing.

Amidst headlines of layoffs in global tech giants happening since the beginning of the year, how can the Hong Kong tech industry prevent such occurrences in the region? Any threats or forecasts they should take note of?

The best way to prevent such layoffs is for the Hong Kong technology industry to be as “market-relevant” as possible, both for the technology companies' and the individuals' perspectives. Making sure that they are “value adding” and cannot be easily replaced is the best way to prevent such occurrences. There is a reason why business cases are done to fund technology projects and making sure that the technology industry both is market relevant and add value is the best way to prevent lay-offs. 

As more businesses and industries place greater consideration in sustainability and ESG initiatives, how can the Hong Kong tech industry become compliant with this? What strategies or tools can they utilise?

The Hong Kong technology industry also needs to consider Sustainability and ESG initiatives. As technology evolves, certain technologies, such as Block Chain, Cloud, Metaverse, etc. will need more processing and consumption power as well as demand for resources. There are standards and guidelines as to what is an acceptable level of consumption that the technology industry should look at measuring themselves against. On the other side, there are technology tools out there that can help any organisation with their ESG initiatives. ESG management reporting tools, for example, can help collect corporate data and help with the generation of insights on areas that corporations need to address. The Hong Kong technology industry should look at how it can use technology to help organisations on their ESG journey while also being mindful of how it can be a more sustainable industry regarding carbon footprint.

How would you assess the current performance of the Hong Kong tech landscape? How can organisations better improve their performance?

There’s a lot of potential upside for the Hong Kong technology landscape. Especially in areas of Innovation and Customer Experience I believe there is room for the Hong Kong Technology Landscape to grow into. The key is to work hand in hand with corporations on potential commercially viable use cases out there which can be solved by technology. Corporations also need to be more open in exploring such innovative technology and be willing to work with not just established organisations but also start-up like technology organisations that are out there. In this way, the Hong Kong technology landscape can continue to improve its performance.

As part of the judges for this year’s HKB Technology Excellence Awards, what innovations or achievements are you looking for in this year’s entries?

I want to look for innovations that are not just innovative but can help solve real-world problems. The best technology I’ve seen is one that can solve real-world problems, whether it’s for individuals/corporate/government as well as being innovative rather than just the latest fad. 

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