What is DARQ technology?

Lots of digital chipboards arranged in rows
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Perform a quick Google search and you might struggle to find even a single product that’s DARQ-compatible, leading to the question: Is this a real thing? Part of the problem is that DARQ shares its name with a fairly recent and quite popular video game, which gets in the way of any attempt at research.

The DARQ we’re actually interested in isn't a product or a company, but shorthand for a collection of four blossoming technologies. These technologies are distributed ledger (or blockchain), artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, and, finally, quantum computing. It’s not a coherent toolkit, or a necessary foundation of your projects, but if you can’t at least say something about DARQ then it might indicate your line-of-business apps are somewhat behind the times.

Why is the term ‘DARQ’ relevant?

Many might suggest DARQ is comparable to the Codd & Date model. For those who aren’t aware, Codd and Date were pioneers of the database in the 1960s; they proposed simple tests and questions that could help determine how “relational” your database was. DARQ can be similarly used as a yardstick – or sanity check – for your project planning, but it’s really a much broader, more high-level approach. With four immense concepts compressed into a single four-letter acronym, it’s not really amenable to simple box-ticking exercises.

Is DARQ of any practical use to us at all, then?

It can be, you simply need to compare your plans and systems to the broad spread of capabilities available across DARQ’s collected platforms. This should help you understand what you’re missing out on, and where your development and relationship time might be best spent. Your e-commerce system doubtless has a database in it of some type, but could it benefit from a blockchain-type model? Can you scale up a thousand times to accommodate a sudden flood of traffic just after an advert goes live, and then scale down again? What tools should you be using to achieve those desirable levels of stability and scalability? And so forth.

Is DARQ as a problem-solving mnemonic?

It’s a nice thought, but that final letter complicates things. You might find a solution in blockchain technologies that you can start developing today, or discover a pre-rolled AI suite that’s close enough to your problem to be useful. You might even discover some productive trick with QR codes or AR-powered smart glasses.

Quantum computing, however, is more aspirational and forward-looking. Right now, its applications are limited, and few businesses will see much return from rushing to invest in the emergent technology. That said, with the technology becoming more available through the cloud, there’s a valid argument that businesses should be planning ahead of time and priming themselves for when commercial quantum computing does become viable.

Could ticking all the DARQ boxes be a red flag?

Yes – just because an IT project control thoughtscape uses scoring to concretise your own assessments, that doesn’t mean the scores have any special value, or translate in any way to business benefits. “Perfect” technology scores can easily go hand-in-hand with a “nul points” rating from the people who have to use a system, or the shareholders.

Perhaps the value of DARQ is to remind us to be wary of hype. You might be onto something there. Thinking about DARQ certainly encourages more actual, well, thinking than relying on narrow web-page service stats or session counts. If DARQ hasn’t been on your radar, your team might welcome the new perspective.