3 major challenges facing CTOs right now

11 Oct 2022

Conor Patterson, BT Ireland. Image: Connor McKenna/SiliconRepublic.com

BT Ireland’s chief technology officer Conor Patterson talks about what fellow CTOs need to think about and the skills they need to future-proof themselves.

From digital transformation to the growth of cyberattacks, chief technology officers (CTOs) have their work cut out for them.

To find out more about what the landscape is like for these leaders, the skills they need and the challenges they face, SiliconRepublic.com sat down with BT Ireland’s CTO, Conor Patterson.

He said in order to future-proof themselves and their teams, CTOs need to think about improving their skills around technology, team building and communications.

“A key role is to be able to communicate complex messages based against business strategy, customer journey, customer experience, colleague journey, colleague experience, and also pivot and be able to negotiate the day-to-day highly technical complex delivery cycle that we go through to drive that in a tactical level,” he said.

In terms of the challenges facing CTOs right now, Patterson said the biggest ones that spring to mind centre around digital transformation, security and talent acquisition.

Digital transformation

While deemed one of the biggest challenges for CTOs, Patterson also said digital transformation can also be seen as an opportunity.

“If we don’t transform, we’re at a significant commercial disadvantage or we’ll fail altogether. So we’ve adopted an aggressive long-term digital transformation programme whilst adopting, commodity-style, the innovation that comes from SaaS and cloud, and trying to give a unique selling point to ourselves.”


Unsurprisingly, the second challenge Patterson mentioned focused on cybersecurity. “If we don’t have security and we don’t have safety for our people, we don’t have a business,” he said.

“Every day, the risk on cybersecurity is exponentially growing and a daily dose of healthy humility really helps. When you think you’ve got a perfect score, you don’t. Investment in the right technology and the right people and the right level of business awareness and security is really key and it’s a constant, never-ending cycle.”

Talent acquisition

Finally, Patterson said talent acquisition and retention is a key hurdle for CTOs right now, especially due to the cybersecurity skills shortage and the increasing demand for new digital skills.

“In BT Ireland, we’ve adopted numerous different ways of tackling that by making our own place really attractive where possible,” he said.

“We have a number of outreach programmes into the local universities, and we work with inspiring women programmes to try and attract that talent and nurture it.”

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic