The Next Big Thing...

At DotControl, clients and partners regularly ask us what we think the Next Big Thing is going to be in the digital world. To be honest, over the years we’ve acquired a healthy degree of skepticism, as we’ve seen countless new technologies hyped as the next game-changer, some more credible than others. Recent candidates include AI, blockchain, AR/VR, voice, chatbots, robotics, IoT and quantum computing…

Picture of the autor Rutger Buijzen

Rutger Buijzen

Chief Technology Officer

Getting our hands dirty 

But it remains a vital question, and one never far from our minds, for two reasons: First, because we see it as a key part of our role as a strategic partner to our clients that we spot, track, evaluate and, where useful, embrace technology trends and developments. And secondly, because at heart we’re just a bunch of geeks who love getting stuck into new technology and puzzling out how it can help people and businesses. 


To do that in a systematic way and stimulate innovation in our two companies, we created our very own DCRB (DotControl RockBoost) Labs. This is an environment where we can safely experiment with new technology. As well as helping us to keep thinking ‘next level’, it also lets us gain experience with immature technology that we can potentially use in client projects in the future (never forgetting that, in the digital world, the future is always here before you know it). 


What excites us most is seeing these emerging technologies deliver real business value and enrich the user experience. And a number of DCRB lab projects have come about in co-creation with our clients, including projects involving machine learning, chatbots, blockchain, voice implementation, and others.  


Eureka! moment 

Then, very occasionally, you get a Eureka! moment, when everything comes into sharp focus and you see clearly: this is the future. It happened back in 2014, when we were among the first to spot the potential of growth hacking and apply it in a methodical, holistic way. The result being RockBoost, the Netherlands’ first growth-hacking agency.  


A while back we had a similar Eureka! moment when Gartner introduced the term ‘Intelligent Digital Mesh’. In the words of Gartner’s David Cearley in 2018, “The future will be characterised by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere. We call this the intelligent digital mesh.” 


We’d already noticed this type of development in areas like voice technology, where the traditional UI is being replaced by new interfaces and patterns of interaction. Similarly, the ‘rise of the machines’ with IoT is bringing about a fascinating, though more hardware-focused transformation. So this concept of an Intelligent Digital Mesh articulated our assumptions and confirmed for us that we were on the right track with the technologies we’re focusing on. 


Unprecedented change 

Put simply, the Intelligent Digital Mesh means that these various technologies will trigger and catalyse one another to evolve and develop at exponential rates. Making technological developments faster, deeper and richer than ever before. Which is obviously all very cool, but why is it so fundamental?  


Well, exactly how these technologies will evolve clearly nobody knows. But we can be sure that the process will decentralise and democratise technology, as non-tech people will increasingly be able to get technology to do what they want, and develop the new tools that they envisage, without any need for highly specialised staff or expensive hardware. 


Many companies will see this democratization process as a threat. And if you think that way, it is. Because in most sectors, ignoring these developments means you’re finished. But others will of course see it a golden opportunity, as it will enable them to be quicker and more agile. Provided they have the necessary growth mindset and a flexible, responsive work culture. If so, DotControl and RockBoost can provide the knowledge of evolving technologies to help you consistently anticipate and adapt to the changes that impact your sector. 


It’s the people, dummy 

This perfect storm, whereby technology is simultaneously becoming more democratised and developing exponentially, makes it crucial that your organisation has the ability to adopt and apply technologies quickly and thoroughly. For example, by taking advantage of the low-code revolution, which will create room for a new type of worker, who can better bridge the gap between business need and technological response.  


But as if that weren’t enough, there’s another challenge: when the range of options and accessibility is increasing so rapidly, how do you know which technologies you need to deploy, and in what ways?  


We believe the answer is simple: focus on people. Technology is there to serve people, so you need to be able to listen to them and understand their pain. Only when organisations can identify and employ the right technology to pinpoint and alleviate the client’s pain will they be in a position to use the Intelligent Digital Mesh to their advantage. But remember, if you can identify the pain, DotControl and RockBoost can help you identify the technology to cure it, and seize those golden opportunities. 


The missing spark 

So while we don’t pretend to have a crystal ball, we can help you equip yourselves for the future, and in some cases even create it. Which brings us back to the Intelligent Digital Mesh. In Gartner’s opinion, this mesh is made up of 10 key technology areas. But insightful though it is, we feel there are a couple of things missing from Gartner’s analysis, as you can see from our version of the diagram. 


For us, the key omission is Creativity. Technology alone is never enough. The Intelligent Digital Mesh may mean more fluid, relevant and immersive user experiences across more real-life touch-points; but you still need an element of creativity (in the broadest sense of the word) to engage people at each stage of the customer journey, resolve the pain-points, land your big idea and deliver your brand promises.  
Creativity of the kind that for decades has added value to traditional advertising may no longer be as relevant as it was, but that doesn’t mean creativity itself is obsolete. Quite the opposite. We need to rethink how we employ creativity to help people adapt to the unprecedented pace at which the world they interact with is changing. So that it becomes integrated into the processes that build, execute and optimise tomorrow’s Intelligent Digital Mesh solutions. And that, too, will require… creativity. 


As our own Marcel van Zwieten said in a recent interview in FONK, humans are still the directors. Without the magic ingredient of creativity, we will only think in means and our solutions will never fulfil the potential the technology offers. Creativity is the spark that helps us shift from technology-focused to people-focused. And why, in the humble opinion of us folks at DotControl and RockBoost at least, the future isn’t the Intelligent Digital Mesh. It’s the Creative Intelligent Digital Mesh. And it’ll be here sooner than you think.