Updated November 29

Computer Business Review’s article by Steve Evans gives us another look at the SAP conference in Madrid:

At the opening keynote of SAP’s TechEd/Sapphire Now conference double-header held in Madrid, a man shuffled on stage. He wasn’t wearing a tie, there was no pumping music to accompany him as he entered the stage, nor any whooping and cheering from the crowd. In short, it wasn’t one of the usual suspects when it comes to conference keynotes.

“My name,” he said, followed by a dramatic pause, “is Gabriel Byrne.”

“I grew up in rural Ireland,” he continued. “I knew a man who had seen the first motor car, listened to the first radio, watched television for the first time and watched man land on the moon. He also saw the invention of the PC. He thought all of these were the zenith of human achievement. ‘There can’t be anything else!’ this old man would say.

“Well, if those were big inflection points, we are at a really big one now because we have new, quantum leap opportunities through two advancing technologies: mobility and the cloud. And a third breakthrough one. I mean in-memory computing – the instant analysis of masses of fast-changing data. And I mean nanosecond fast, for decision-making and running applications.”

Comments like this may have been expected from the CEO of a company pushing its latest revenue-generating products, but not from a Hollywood actor.

“It’s all about hyper-processing power,” Byrne continued. “With in-memory computing, just multiply yesterday’s capabilities up to 100,000 times over, so that you can ask questions about your margins, your manufacturing mix, marketing, and get answers and insights unbelievably faster. What it took three days to do before, it takes three minutes now. That’s 4.6 billion records analysed in less than two seconds, with data stored in RAM accessed instantly through the cloud.”

Who knew Mr. Byrne was so well-versed in the intricacies of  in-memory computing!? Seriously, it is very cool that he challenges himself to do things like this. Reading the script for this keynote must have been like reading a script for Star Trek: The Next Generation:

DATA: The dimensional jump creates a subspace pressure modulation, Captain. By setting up a magnetosphere faint echogram that can monitor each of their movements, we may be able to collect enough data to trace their power source.

Make it so!

Updated November 9

Although it appeared that the Gabriel Byrne keynote for the Madrid SAP Sapphire Now meeting would be a video of the original back in June, now it is clear that Mr. Byrne made an appearance and mesmerized everyone there, just as he did the first time around.

Gabriel Byrne, keynoter
Photo by Timo Elliott

These new pics are in the Gallery now.

June 19

Gabriel Byrne appears in the most interesting places these days: at museums curating film festivals; at theater conferences; in bookstores reading from the works of his favorite authors (while they are sitting there listening to him!), and more.

Here he is providing the keynote for a technology conference. A BIG technology conference, in Orlando, Florida. You might think he would need flashy visuals and exciting music in a venue like this. Technology meetings do tend to involve a lot of, well, technology! But Mr. Byrne knows something about telling a story. He only needs his ideas, his voice, his body, and about 15 minutes to do it.

Attendees tweeted about his presentation at ScribbleLive.

Below is the transcript provided by BigThink.com, whom we thank!

They omitted the very beginning, so here is that little part brought to you by Stella:

“Christopher Columbus’ discovery changed the future. He didn’t have a complete map, but what he did have was a bold vision.  And he was confident that the journey he set out on would be worth it. It was. It led him to a new world.”

Hello, good morning, and welcome. My name is Gabriel Bryne and usually I act in films, you might have seen some of them, Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing, In Treatment, many films. Anyway, I’m here this morning to, I suppose, explore with you some thoughts.

We are living at the moment in a world of profound change, political, social, economic, and spiritual—seismic change, that technology is helping to drive and define. And for those of us who are prepared for these changes, for this journey, there are equally prepared opportunities. Do you wonder, like I do, what the world is going to look like in 2015? Look at the person next to you. Do you know what? It’s in their imagination. Look around this room. There are 6,600 imaginations in this room alone, including yours and yours, yours over there. And in another more than 40,000 with us this morning on the web, welcome to them, too.

And springing from all these imaginations, there is a wealth of possibilities, for your industries, for your companies, the Pepsicos, the Dells, and the Wall-Marts, Citibanks, Skullcandies, Centricas, Burton Snowboards—all the household names, and all the rising ones. And what about you? How do you think that your future will unfold? And where do you think that you and your business will be four, five years from now? One thing is certain, we have choices. And you can either make the future or you can be overtaken by it. I mean, we know this, don’t we? I mean, we feel this in our bones. And those choices that we make will take us to one future reality or another. And these choices will affect not just our lives, but the lives of everybody around us. So the question is, how and what will you choose?

Every one of us in one way or another are facing fierce challenges, urgencies, sweeping technological changes. But the velocity of data is building by the day. And how we have to manage, how we have to make sense of all that, on the fly, in a world that is more volatile than it’s ever been, and how we have to stay flexible through all the instability and all the unpredictability. In a world where our businesses and our lives are extremely inter-connected, and how we are all subject, all of us, to the butterfly effect, that is the new normal.

And one thing I think that we have learned is to never, ever underestimate the pace of innovation. It was seriously underestimated, I think, in 1989, wasn’t it? ’89, when the internet appeared to be just a group of portals with some potential.

In the village where my father was born, I knew this old man, and I remember one day he talked to me about what he had seen in his lifetime, the invention of the motor car, the arrival of film, radio, and on a black and white television set he saw the first man walk on the moon. He lived long enough to see the first PC and the internet. Each of these marvels he thought was the zenith of human achievement, “There can’t be anything else,” he used to say. You know, at each great turn of technology, most people fell short of projecting just how much potential, how much progress would come on its heels, and how fast it was going to happen. Well, if those were big inflection points, we are at a really big one now because we have new quantum leap opportunities through two advancing technologies, mobility and the cloud. And a third breakthrough one, it is still so spanking new, so glowing and it feels like it’s still smoking—I mean, in-memory computing; the instant analysis of masses of fast-changing data. And I mean nanosecond fast, for decision-making and running applications.

As an artist, I suppose, I tend to think in metaphors, so I think to myself, “Wow, cross-pollination.” Where this real time data analysis, this in-memory computing meets and pollinates billions of mobile devices. Meets and pollinates fresh cloud formations and raises everything and I mean everything, to a new level. If Einstein was still around here, he might even give it a breakthrough formula quantum physics style, like an E=mc x imc², where E is any enterprise, M is mobile, C is the cloud, IMC is in-memory computing. But how we use that formula, that’s where it gets really exciting.

Okay. Let’s talk just for a moment about the what-ifs. Let’s look together for a moment at what is being created by the uniting of cloud, mobile, and in-memory technologies because that is what is going to change everything, monumentally, and soon. And over the next coming months, seasons, over the next two, three years, four years, it’s all about hyperprocessing power. Well, in-memory computing, just multiply yesterday’s capabilities 127 times over, so that you can ask questions about your margins, your manufacturing mix, marketing, and get answers and insights 127 times faster. What it took three days to do before, it takes three minutes now. That’s 4.6 billion records analyzed in less than 2 seconds, with data stored in RAM accessed instantly through the cloud and anywhere mobiling.

Okay. So what does that mean for your businesses, our lives, our industries? Okay, let’s take healthcare, for example. Ask yourself this hypothetical question. What if your doctor could compare your unique health profile to a database of millions of other patients and identify a treatment most likely to work for your condition while you’re still on the operating table? What if your local hospital could monitor every patient in their building in real time, real real-time, from their vitals to the meds, the insurance coverage, and make this data available on every doctor and administrator’s mobile device, so that each patient could be treated proactively and cost effectively. Think about that.

Retail. Ask yourself, okay, let’s say your favorite jacket was smart, and could automatically reorder itself before it wore out. And not only arrive the same way it was made originally, but also adjusted to your current size, which could change. So what if a typhoon in Southeast Asia, for example, stopped a key shipment between your supplier in Taiwan and your factory in **** but your global supply chain could immediately and automatically adjust to prevent any manufacturing delays, so no matter what happened, your customers always got what they wanted when they wanted it. How do you think that would affect their loyalty? Think about that.

Financial services. Ask yourself this question: Let’s say 10 different banks, with your okay, could tap into your financial picture and instantly offer you competing mortgages and enable you to choose and close on a house within minutes instead of weeks. Or if, heaven forbid, if you’re in… let’s say your house burned down and your insurance company had instant access to a virtual record of every item that you’ve lost and could cover the true full value in a fraction of the time, how do you think that this would redefine what’s possible in the financial sector? I think that’s something to think about.

Okay. All these what-ifs, all these scenarios, they’re more than possible; they’re probable, because there are already companies on the case, investing, innovating around them. And so what about the rest of us? Do we jump in head and heart first? Or do we risk waiting and seeing?

As the smart phone revolution showed us, the early learners, the visionaries, those people who adapted, they didn’t wait. They saw the possibilities, they took the risk, and they reaped immense rewards.

And what about the present? The present is already past. Everything from this second on out is future tense. The clock of the future, which ticks, ticks, ticks, that will continue. So we have to start now, we have to start imagining, imagining our own possibilities. We have to stretch. We have to understand and embrace the harmonic convergence of these new technologies. We have to find the right partners, the right guides, ones with a bold and a shared vision, because you can’t afford to get it wrong, or go it alone. We must connect with these ideas and the inspiration that flows all around us. It must begin the minute you step outside this room. Take the what-ifs; don’t let them become if-onlys. Turn your what-ifs into why not? So when you wake up on the morning of 2015, you and your business are riding the future that you imagined.

So here’s to all our futures and all the possible futures that we are going to create together.


  1. WOW, Gabriel delivered a Fantastic presentation of Big Think Panel.
    To use his own words, I could feel it in my bones…

  2. WOW indeed! As I was watching this I was trying to think if there was any other actor/actress/singer/whoever who could have done this. And the short answer was..NO.And do you know what else, I really don’t think he needed all the flashy graphics either. I can’t imagine that there was a person listening to that who didn’t feel it in their bones..

  3. marieboum

    is he good or what? Beside being my favorite actor, irishman.. he is becoming one of my favorite speaker. The man can do so many things. Could listen to him all day. How can’t you feel it in your bones? I know I do!!!


  5. Gabriel is touching upon a lot of good ideas in this excerpt; I haven’t come across the term ‘harmonic convergence’ in quite some time but I think I get the gist of what he’s saying. And I hope he is right – I hope the year 2015 is everything he imagines it can be!


  6. Kim Serrahn

    Brilliant. He’s without a doubt so very brilliant. Mind like a steel trap. No other word but Brilliant

  7. What made you think it was going to be just a video from earlier? So many people were tweeting about him there. Sounds like it was incredible speech once again. Love the longer hair!

    • Hi, Cyndee. Yes, Twitter was all a-twitter today. But yesterday when I first heard about it, I thought he was due to be somewhere else. Now it appears he CAN defy the laws of physics. I’m glad. He looks great and I’m sure the audience appreciated having him there in person!

  8. Thanks for the new photos and info Stella.
    In the new photos he looks like a kind of scientific Lord Byron. Love his long hair!

  9. Did he give a similar speech to the earlier one? I’m seriously impressed though. Still don’t know who else could do what he does the way he does it.

  10. The man is amazing. Simply amazing. Madrid hey. How about an Australian city next time? One can only wish

  11. Is Gabriel some kind of a new Steve Jobs?

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this video from Spain. With this short Madrid version of his speech. Love to listen to him as usually and interesting to hear that he speaks English and not Irish here, except for some words in between.
    When he speaks about the “What ifs” it reminds me of a scene from IT1.

    Hope the technology will do only good things for the world in the future. But to have new technology means to have power, so I hope it will be in the right hands and in the right head and hearts in the future.

  13. Wow. Bravo Mr Byrne. A keynote speech on cloud technology without notes, not a subject that interests me in the slightest and I was fascinated. So was my 4 yr old.
    And did anyone think “What-ME?” at the beggining when he looked at the camera and said “You”.
    Felt it in my bones – again.

  14. Gabriel is a brilliant speaker. No doubt I could watch him and listen to him for hours. Still I would really understand what this speech is for. Convince us to accept and get involved in new technology? We can’t go against it anyway… Or did I miss the purpose of these keynote speeches in the first place?

    • Hi, Persona. I’ve been wondering about that myself. It seems to me the keynote Gabriel presented was for the 6,000 SAP employees and others who were there in the auditorium, as well as those who might have been video-conferenced in. So, he was talking to people who pretty much knew what he was talking about! Sometimes at meetings like this interesting people from outside the company are asked to participate–to generate interest, get people excited, spark some enthusiasm, maybe just shake things up! I would imagine many in the audience were pretty amazed to see Gabriel Byrne up there talking about in memory analytics. But this is the work they do.

      You can read something about big data, which is what you are engaging with anytime you buy something at Amazon or use Facebook, here: https://practicalanalytics.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/new-tools-for-new-times-%E2%80%93-a-primer-on-big-data/
      I am fortunate because in my work I am exposed to these ideas and I get to worry about some of this stuff!

  15. Thank you Stella for your documented answer. I don’t understand much about big data and big clouds though! And still I keep wondering why Gabriel gets involved in these keynote conferences. They don’t relate to his professional, personal or private concerns as far as I know. But well… I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to watch and listen to him!!!

    • Well, Persona, I can think of two reasons: standing in front of thousands of people, reciting memorized lines and engaging with the audience, must be a lot like performing on stage, so this is good practice! And he might have received a nice bit of loot for his work, too, though we never think about that much. Who knows? I’m glad to see him extending his wings and doing different things, even if in-memory analytics seems to be a strange thing for him to be talking about.


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