‘One of the biggest challenges is the relentless pace of tech innovation’

5 Sep 2017

Simon Murphy, head of technology consulting and partner, Deloitte. Image: Deloitte

We spoke to Deloitte’s Simon Murphy about technology consultancy and the challenges of a fast-moving industry.

Simon Murphy is the head of technology consulting and a partner at Deloitte Ireland.

With a BSc in computer systems from University of Limerick, Murphy gained experience at IBM and BearingPoint before joining the Deloitte team.

In his daily role, he provides advisory services for CIOs, and leads teams in technology strategy and architecture as well as analytics.

Murphy is certified as a master IT architect by The Open Group.

Describe your role and what you do.

There are two parts to my role.

Firstly, I lead Deloitte’s technology consulting practice in Ireland. Essentially, my responsibility involves running the technology practice. It is a big practice with more than 500 consultants working with many of Ireland’s largest private and public sector organisations. Running the practice is a large part of my role but thankfully, I have a great team around me to help!

The second role I have is working with clients. The majority of my personal clients are in the public sector where we have large technology teams – from systems integration, analytics and information management, to digital – helping them solve some of their most challenging business and technology problems. I love this part of my job as it is here that we really make a difference and impact, not only to the organisation itself but, in many cases, to society overall.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

My working day is driven by my Outlook calendar, which is usually pretty full and somewhat fluid. Client needs come first and I try my best to prioritise based on urgency and importance. Other people will have to tell you how successful I am at actually doing that!

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

I think the biggest challenges facing us are the pace of change in the business environment and the relentless pace of technology innovation.

The industries in which our clients work – and indeed, our own – are constantly being disrupted and at an ever faster pace. Old business models that served organisations well just won’t work in today’s world where digital transformation, of one form or another, is resulting in new and leaner competition, and changing consumer expectations are causing fundamental shifts in many industries. We need to keep up with – and indeed, be ahead of – this disruption in order to help our clients navigate through it.

A related challenge is the pace of technological innovation, which is moving even faster, and it is incumbent on us to anticipate it and place some bets on those that we believe will be successful and of value to our clients. While we are very good at this, it isn’t easy.

What are the key industry opportunities youre capitalising on?

While I mentioned the pace of change being a challenge, it is also an opportunity for us and our clients. Digital transformation in its broadest sense is fundamentally changing organisations and the technologies they need. For us, this represents an exciting opportunity to advise clients and assist them in implementing the changes, from both a business and technology perspective.

Across all industries, we are also seeing more and more focus on data, be that in an effort to gain greater customer insight to drive revenues or reduce costs, or from a regulatory standpoint to ensure compliance. We are also starting to see more and more clients in Ireland fully adopting data science and big data techniques. These have been core competencies for us for quite some time and this has enabled us to capitalise on these opportunities.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

From a young age, I always loved technology so, for me, I was always going to work in this industry. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

When I reflect on the biggest mistakes I have made, be it in my professional or personal life, it is usually down to not trusting my instincts. Your instincts are based on your experiences so they are very valuable. It’s not a substitute for good analysis but it is definitely something that I have learned not to ignore!

How do you get the best out of your team?

I believe people work best when they are motivated and that means doing work that they enjoy, working with great teams and clients, and ultimately making an impact, be that on a client organisation or on society more generally. I try to create an environment and culture that enables people to do this.

Technology is an exciting and thriving competency within our consulting practice. There are unrivalled opportunities for our people to build successful careers that meet their own career aspirations as well as deliver for our clients. We nurture our talent, providing people with leadership capabilities, experience and insight to collaborate with clients so they can move forward with confidence.

Ultimately, I try to make it creative, dynamic and stimulating for my team.

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and whats needed to effect change?

There is no doubt that we need more diversity, in particular in the technology industry. To achieve this, there needs to be a coordinated effort by all – it needs to start in schools and colleges in the way that STEM subjects are taught and promoted, but those of us in the industry also need to do our part by communicating the vast and diverse array of roles that are available and the rewarding careers that they offer people, no matter what their gender, sexual orientation or cultural background. It is also important to showcase the very many positive role models that are out there today as evidence of how people from diverse backgrounds can succeed in technology. 

Who is your business hero and why?

I’m not sure that I have one particular business hero, I tend to admire certain things about a range of business leaders from today and the past. A (perhaps eclectic) list of names – including Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Michael O’Leary, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg – come to mind for their drive, ambition and, in many cases, the change they brought to their respective industries.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I tend to avoid business books and prefer fiction to help me ‘switch off’. I like books by Ian Patterson and Patricia Cornwell.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

My Outlook calendar, my iPhone, my iPad, and a good old pen and paper!

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