Global Reach from UL base

As the managing director of Action Point, an award-winning supplier of software development and information technology support services, David Jeffreys knows what it takes to stand out from the graduate crowd.

What do you do?

I founded Action Point in 2005 with John Savage, our technical director. We have clients all over the globe. We help them with business process automation, Internet of Things solutions, legacy system redevelopment, managed services, 24/7 helpdesk services, business continuity and disaster recovery. Our headquarters is actually based on the UL campus.

What’s the motivation?

The team and I want to become the leading indigenous technology services company in Ireland, serving clients nationally and internationally.

When did this first become of interest to you?

We started Action Point because we felt we could provide a higher standard of technology services than others. For us, it was about building long-term relationships with clients. The technology is the solution but the real value is applying that technology strategically, to align with a client’s business goals. We wanted to show organisations how technology can be a business enabler and play a central part in their growth strategy.

Who and where is your target market?

We target mid-market, public sector and enterprise companies in Ireland, Europe and the USA.

How is technology affecting your sector?

Of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, perhaps the biggest one is the Internet of Things. It’s the one that’s going to give us the most disruption, as well as the most opportunity, over the next five years. Another is mixed-reality. For example, the Microsoft HoloLens headset allows users to see and interact with realistic holograms in actual, physical environments. Users can share their viewpoint with others, even when they’re in different physical locations.

Even within more traditional businesses, electronic document interchange is improving the speed of information exchange and mobile devices still have not been fully leveraged by many verticals. There are exciting areas for growth in all of these spaces.

Of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, perhaps the biggest one is the Internet of Things. It’s the one that’s going to give us the most disruption, as well as the most opportunity, over the next five years.

Where did you go to school and what subjects did you favour?

I attended Wilson’s Hospital School, a boarding school in County Westmeath. Believe it or not, my favourite subjects were maths and physics.

What is your leadership approach?

I favour a collaborative team-based approach, where we focus on solving problems, not allocating blame. We win as a team, or lose as a team.

Do you use social media?

Yes, I use Twitter and LinkedIn. I tweet on our company profile from time to time alongside our marketing team but, personally, I see the most value from LinkedIn as a ‘virtual networking’ tool. Your network is your net worth and LinkedIn has helped me build that.

How has the way in which you work changed from when you began?

As a founder of a tech company, you start by doing everything. Eventually, you realise you can only take on so much, so you start hiring people. When you hire people that are better than you, it allows you to refocus what you do on the higher value items, or those which you are best placed at. Essentially, over time, you move from doing the job to getting the job done.

You must relentlessly identify the key parts of what you do that are special and unique to your organisation and ensure that, as others come along, they continue in the same vein. It’s about giving people the high-level direction and leaving them the space to figure the rest out for themselves. Now that the organisation is 80+ people, my job is much more strategic and conceptual. I try to spend at least 30% of my time working on 12 to 36 months in the future. Where will we be with technology? Where does the company need to be in the market? What alliances and partners do we need and so on?

10 years from now: Make a prediction?

As Bill Gates has often said, we all have a huge tendency to overestimate changes that occur on a five-year time horizon but underestimate the changes on a ten-year horizon.

In ten years, technology will be even more pervasive. Wearables, such as Microsoft HoloLens, could be everyday tools and self-driving cars will have gained much wider adoption. Within Ireland, I would hope that we take Brexit as a strategic opportunity and both MNC and financial services are much broader. With our unique position as the only English-speaking country in the EU, I would hope that our indigenous companies can position ourselves to be propelled forward.

Within Action Point, I would expect the company to continue to expand, with offices across Europe and on both the east and west coast of the US.

I could say I hope to be retired but the truth is I enjoy this work way too much. The challenge is always something that keeps me going.

Finally, give us one memory of your time in UL… Of all the things from UL that have influenced me, it’s the co-operative education work experience that has most contributed to where we are today. The contract that allowed us to start Action Pont can be traced back to the people we met and worked with on co-op in second year.