UCL FinTech Society's Research Division interviews Rob Borley (Founder and MD of Dootrix) on starting a business with an engineering background, what digital transformation means and the latest cloud and data trends.
Introducing the Founder
Rob Borley is the founder and managing director of Dootrix, a software engineering that helps clients accelerate their businesses through mobile, cloud and IoT software solutions. Working with clients such as Confused.com, Heathrow Airport, P&O Ferries, Clancy Docwra and Surfers Against Sewage, Rob leads a dynamic team of designers and developers, creating the next generation of mobile apps, PaaS first cloud software and best in class IoT solutions for enterprise.
On the company
1. How have your past experiences and interests led you to founding Dootrix?
Dootrix was born out of inspiration and a certain level of naivety. It was founded by engineers who had a way of thinking differently.
In 2011, with the iPhone arrival, which was busy transforming consumer expectations of how the world should work, we foresaw that this would have a knock-on effect in the enterprise space. The decision was coupled with elements of wanting a certain amount of control of my own destiny and taking responsibility for decision making.
Having a challenger mentality is vital. We don’t have to do things a certain way just because that’s how they have always been done. This, alongside my engineering background, offered insight into what was possible. We were able to have meaningful conversations with stakeholders about how technology can enable change within an organisation. After all, executive stakeholders get excited by business changes delivered, not the technology used in delivering them.
2. What are some of the challenges you faced in founding Dootrix?
The biggest challenge in owning your own business is also where the fun is. As a business grows, the founder’s role is to replace themselves. For example, I started my working life as an engineer, but I’ve been in most roles within Dootrix: accountant, sales lead, BA, consultant, UX designer, Head of HR, legal council…. Etc etc etc.
As you expand, if you don’t have magic money to throw at the problem, you learn how to do something and how that role operates within the culture you are building, and then you backfill those roles.
We’ve been engineering-led from day one. We build great products for our clients that are as beautiful under the hood as they are for the users to experience. Along with being nice people, this leads to recommendations and advocacy from our clients. We champion collaboration and the advancements that humble and passionate team members can make.
However, the business mantra ‘If you build it, they will come’ IS NOT TRUE! To be a commercial success (we are a business, after all), you have to be sales focused and sales led. Neither Kevin nor I had any sales background. This has been the single biggest challenge to accelerating our growth over the years.
Next to that, it’s maintaining your culture and identity as you grow. People buy people. In the early days, clients buy the founders (and everything that means). You need to be able to replicate that early magic as you grow.
3. How does Dootrix help its clients, especially organisations with legacy systems and heavy regulatory oversight, understand and implement possible digital solutions in this fast-evolving technological age?
One of the principal reasons as to why businesses are unable to make significant changes in the right way is because the technology on which they rely to operate restricts their ability to adapt and change.
Digital transformation will vary for every company, but it is always a process, never a big bang. As an enabler of change, we must first understand the business, its customers and their needs, as well as what the organisation is trying to achieve. With that information, we can work to enable organisations to make informed decisions about technology implementation.
Technology is a tool, which not only changes organisations in the short term but also enables
a culture of continual change as per the demands of our fast-moving world.
On technology challenges and innovations
4. With increasing emphasis on creating customised user experiences and choosing appropriate marketing channel strategies, how can organisations strike the right balance across all channels and decision points to attract and retain customers?
At Dootrix, we find that organisations come to mid-size technology partners because we are innovative, disruptive, and can manage change. We are commercially agile and more flexible than larger organisations meaning that we will respond rapidly to customer demands to adapt and manage change productively and cost-effectively without compromising quality.
The modern world has fundamentally changed consumers' relationship with technology. With the advent of the iPhone all those years ago, technology moved from being scary, something that you had to fight with or feared that you might break to becoming almost invisible. It just works.
Previously, the user believed that if something didn't behave as advertised, then it was their fault; they must have done something wrong. Now, if technology breaks or the app is hard to use, or the user can't complete their task for whatever reason, it's your fault, the provider.
This shift in expectations means that the bar has moved. Now you can do irreparable damage to your brand if your technology is challenging to use or doesn't deliver on your promises.
Our role at Dootrix is to provide the technology that delivers on your promises.
5. The effects of COVID-19 have seen rapid adoption of innovations such as digital channel developments, cloud solutions and Internet of Things integration. What technological trends are you excited to see play out, and how would Dootrix position itself amid these future changes?
COVID-19 has hit the fast-forward button on cloud adoption. The trend towards working remotely has been gaining traction for some time, but the “work-from-home” requirement changed organisations in a matter of a few short weeks – in a way that otherwise would have taken years.
Working from home is not just about video calls. Core business systems need to be accessible in a secure and scalable way from wherever your people are. Cloud technology enables transformation by lowering the friction of change within an organisation; this is as much about understanding and implementing governance in a cloud-native world as it is about adopting new technologies.
Data liberation is a cornerstone of this. Data volumes have exploded as businesses discover the value of social media, documents, comments, sensors, and edge devices. The ability to capture and analyse practically any type of data is a critical business capability.
Whether you’re in a financial services enterprise, a retail SME or a legal-tech start-up, you’ve most likely got a vast amount of data within your business. This data is growing in scale and complexity. Unlocking this data in a secure and scalable way, such that your customers, partners and employees can access the value they need, will be a massive differentiator in driving business success over the next few years.
As an innovation partner to some of the most pioneering enterprises and exciting new start-ups, we’re often engaged on the very first step of their data liberation journey. Our role is defining, implementing, and adopting the integration strategy, from planning through to technology deployment and managing business change.
To learn more about Dootrix, follow the links below:
To hear more from Rob Borley about how having a technology-focused skill set can improve your career prospects, watch the webinar (featuring Ross Birkbeck, Founder of Legal-Tech company, Casedo) below:
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At the time of interview, the interviewers have not used any services and/or products offered by the featured company and this article does not contain sponsored content. This interview has been published for informational and educational purposes.