As businesses continue to embrace digital transformation, a group of technologies are about to enter the business environment. The DARQ technologies could have a more profound impact on businesses than SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud) have had over the past decade. With potentially far-reaching potential, securing DARQ technologies is of paramount importance.

To gain an insight into how security within the context of DARQ technologies will have to evolve, Silicon UK spoke with David Shrier, programme director of Oxford Cyber Futures.

David Shrier, programme director of Oxford Cyber Futures.

In a post digitally transformed world, how should businesses approach their harnessing of DARQ technologies? Is their digital foundation ready?

The subcomponents of DARQ are at varying stages of readiness for commercial deployment, and accordingly, businesses need a nuanced approach to implementing these technologies.

For example, contemporary artificial intelligence has been evolving for more than 70 years and, has already achieved widespread acceptance in one form or another. AI strategy becomes a lead-versus-follower question since the state of the art is still advancing, and some firms are pushing that frontier while others are just beginning implementation.

On the other hand, quantum computing is still in the lab for the most part, with select testing environments available. Quantum falls more into the category of “awareness building” for corporate leadership.

Convergence is where we will see order-of-magnitude transformations, like combining distributed ledger and AI or extended reality and AI. Longer-term, the full DARQ complement will become available to business leaders in a stable and well-provisioned manner. At that point, the way business operates will look substantially different than it does today.

Should DARQ be approached as integrated technologies or as separate entities?

DARQ needs to be approached both individually and in concert because competencies within an organization need to embrace each technology at its appropriate stage of development. Still, at the same time, exponential effects will occur when they are combined. A systems view is essential in developing a tech roadmap around DARQ.

How does DARQ differ from Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC) which many businesses have only just begun to leverage across their companies?

The full combination of DARQ pushes more power and control to the edge, versus the centralized model of the SMAC technologies. It incorporates disruptive versus incremental change – for example, with many SMAC applications we are taking something we did previously in a conventional model (i.e., cloud migrates a limited-scale function of a corporate server to a highly scalable ‘virtualized’ environment, but it’s still operating in a centralized model).

DARQ, on the other hand, creates new paradigms of performance and processes (i.e., a distributed ledger + AI architecture could have encapsulated data with edge computing at massive distributed scale, bringing both greater resilience, greater data security, and possibly higher compute power to bear on a problem).

For CTOs, CIOs and CDOs, how will they need to embrace DARQ across their enterprises?

C-level technology executives need to take a sophisticated approach to working with DARQ. It’s important to evaluate cost/performance/risk functions methodically. AI might help improve performance in one area, but what risks does it create – even regulatory risks, as some financial services companies have discovered.

Distributed ledger might improve data security, but what is the net cost to maintain and run these systems? A disciplined approach to evaluating the entire business case, conducted in collaboration with business-line executives in addition to technical staff, can help considerably with outcomes.

SMAC was often viewed as a technology only development with little thought given to the workforces that needed to use them. With DARQ, is education even more vital to get, right?

SMAC, for the most part, helped take desktop and client-server functions, and migrate them to a digital/virtual environment. Users had more access in more places, but they were still modelled on an analogue to the prior generation systems. With DARQ, education is absolutely critical both for the technology implementers, and technology users.

The structural models we use to even think about how a system operates, what it can do, and how to diagnose a problem when something breaks, all change under DARQ. It’s like learning a new language, not just acquiring new vocabulary, and it’s essential to invest in educating not only the technologists but also the users.

Where do you think we will see the first practical applications of DARQ? What new services or product can we expect?

Financial services and health are two logical places to see practical DARQ emerging, with the government (“govtech”) as a possible third area with overlaps to the other two. Smarter, more responsive systems that more closely integrate with the ways we work and live are possible with DARQ.

At the same time, new data and systems cybersecurity risks emerge with these new technologies. In critical systems like financial or health, you can’t just “move fast and break things” – a thoughtful implementation approach is needed. If you cut off someone’s bank accounts by accident for weeks at a time, they might not be able to feed their families. Stepwise implementation is prudent.

The rush to embrace new technologies often has unintended consequences. For example, the government of India rightfully felt that biometrics could help with financial inclusion and, created Aadhaar. Unfortunately, it was built with inadequate security and a centralized data model, and the entire database was compromised.

They aren’t alone – many major governments have experienced some form of hack or another, and corporates like Facebook have even had multiple well-publicized hacks in recent years. These hacks include state-sponsored action: the US government claims that China was responsible for the Equifax hack of over 140 million accounts.

It’s absolutely critical that as we build the next generation of systems using DARQ, we also implement next generate cybersecurity to protect them. That’s a major focus of Oxford Cyber Futures, our new online programme for business executives.

In their report, Accenture state: “The world is moving into a post-digital era. Companies are setting their sights beyond their organization’s digital transformation, moving toward shaping how governments, business partners, employees and individuals interact with the world through technology. Future-minded leaders know that they will need not only every digital tool in their current arsenal to succeed; they’ll also need new ones.”

The DARQ technologies will, once again, change how a business operates and, how enterprises communicate with their commercial partners and customers. Security must take a quantum leap forward to ensure DARQ is implemented with robust yet flexible security protocols.


Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash.

David Howell

Dave Howell is a freelance journalist and writer. His work has appeared across the national press and in industry-leading magazines and websites. He specialises in technology and business. Read more about Dave on his website: Nexus Publishing. https://www.nexuspublishing.co.uk.

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