Tech Trends 2017: IT breaks free and data goes dark

21 Jun 2017

Simon Murphy, partner, technology consulting, Deloitte. Image: Connor McKenna

Following the release of the Tech Trends 2017 report from Deloitte, we got the low-down from Simon Murphy, Deloitte Ireland’s technology consulting practice lead.

Marking the eighth year of the annual Deloitte Tech Trends report, technology consulting partner Simon Murphy noted that the only real constant in all these reports is change. “I think the pace at which technology change is happening is increasing every year,” he added.

Murphy leads Deloitte’s technology consulting practice in Ireland and is a member of the Deloitte EMEA technology leadership team. He guided us on what is meant by the title of this year’s report: ‘the kinetic enterprise’.

Future Human

Essentially, a kinetic enterprise is one that is trying to deal with the “kinetic energy” of emerging technology and disruption, and using this to their advantage. The kinetic organisation is able to look at the trending technologies, and identify the really disruptive ones as well as the ones that can deliver a real business outcome. However, according to Deloitte, it is those that can transform the potential into action that will be most successful.

Inspirefest 2017

IT unbounded

For Murphy, the trend that addresses the ‘how’ of becoming a kinetic enterprise is “unbounded” IT, which involves organisational shifts to optimise the right technologies for beneficial business impact.

Some organisations have already begun to make progress on ‘IT unbounded’ by breaking down silos within their organisation – and not just within IT, but across the whole business.

“The most successful organisations that are dealing with this disruption have made that break-down between what’s an IT organisation and what’s a business organisation, and, instead of them having two different organisations, or even having projects, they’re now building teams around products and services that are a combination of the skills in the IT organisation and the business organisation,” explained Murphy.

‘Ireland’s ability, as a nation and an economy, to be agile is going to be more important than any of our European counterparts’

IT unbounded is particularly important in an Irish context, Murphy said. “We have all the ingredients to do that. We have a really vibrant tech sector in Ireland. We have a great set of start-ups. And we have really high-quality educational institutions.”

Add to that mix is the proliferation of high-tech multinationals dotted around the country, and Ireland’s CIOs have access to a broad ecosystem that, Murphy said, “a lot of their counterparts in other countries would only love to have access to”, and this allows them to be disruptive and agile.

“I think, in an Irish context, our ability, generally, as a nation and an economy, to be agile is going to be more important than any of our European counterparts. And I think we’ve a real opportunity to do that,” said Murphy.

Dark analytics

In terms of the technologies underpinning this oncoming change and disruption, one of the big trends noted by Deloitte is focused on data. It’s an inevitable reference point in any enterprise forecasting that data is going to have a big part to play. According to the Deloitte report, the size of the ‘digital universe’ is expected to leap from 4.4 zettabytes in 2013 to 44 zettabytes in 2020, and up to 90pc of this data is said to be unstructured.

“We all hear the numbers about the level, the amount of data that is generated in the world every day, and it’s absolutely phenomenal. But there’s a lot of insights into that data,” said Murphy. “A lot of times, [clients are] collecting it but actually, they’re not able to see what the data is telling them. And, in that sense, we say it’s ‘dark’.”

Dark analytics is the art of looking inside that ‘dark data’ and deriving insights that are valuable to businesses from it. “That’s not only in the types of data that come from social media and those sources, but organisations often themselves have a huge amount of internal data that they’ve not shone a light on, either,” he said.

Image: Tech Trends 2017: The kinetic enterprise/Deloitte University Press

Image: Tech Trends 2017: The kinetic enterprise/Deloitte University Press

Machine intelligence

Like data, robotic process automation has been part of Deloitte’s Tech Trends reports for some time now, and it’s also susceptible to change. “Robotic process automation has been great in automating relatively straightforward tasks. I think the next stage of that [is] how do I bring some intelligence into that process – and that’s what we’re calling robotic cognitive automation,” said Murphy. “Some of that machine intelligence is going to help people make better decisions.”

He sees these advances in machine intelligence already in terms of image and video recognition technology, to the point that police forces around the world are now putting these tools to work. Combine that, then, with augmented and virtual reality, where the digital and physical worlds merge, and you get what Murphy calls “very exciting use cases”.

“I think that’s going to drive a lot of disruption over the next few years in certain industries,” he said.


As a part of this journey, Murphy said, “really everything is turning into a service”. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a 10-year-old term, but he said it is a key component to how solutions are being built for today, enabled by other established tech trends.

“What we’ve done is take a lot of what’s been really good about digital, SOA, cloud and agile techniques, and we’re seeing businesses really bring that into how they deliver all their products and services,” Murphy said.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic