The calendar hasn’t even flipped to 2015 yet, but some people are already looking forward to 2020—and not just because it’s a neat number. Forrester Research has just come out with its list of “Top Emerging Technologies to Watch, Now Through 2020,” as described in a blog post by Forrester vice president Brian Hopkins.
Wait a minute, you might think. Didn’t we just talk about that? No, no, no. That was Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends which was released last month. But there is an interesting compare-and-contrast between the two lists.
There is the obvious difference—Forrester names 15 trends, while Gartner lists 10. And Forrester’s watch list extends to 2020, while Gartner comes out with a different list every year. But these are minor differences. What about the technologies themselves?
There’s a lot of overlap between the two lists. Trends are trends, and if these are that big, it seems like they would be pretty obvious to everyone, no? Both include Internet of Things, analytics, the cloud, and software-defined infrastructure.
What’s more interesting is the differences between the Gartner and Forrester lists.
For example, where Gartner has 3D printing, computing everywhere, context-rich systems, and web-scale IT, Forrester has big data, software acceleration, real-time data sourcing, wearables, next generation connectivity, natural interfaces, digital experience solutions, and customer-driven design.
To a certain extent, it looks like the primary distinction between the two lists is that Gartner is focusing on the devices themselves, while Forrester is focusing on platforms, or the software on the devices. Forrester also says that its focus is specifically on customers—by which it means not its own customers, but your customers.
A close read of both lists is worthy of your time, especially when you consider that one of the ongoing criticisms of the CIO in the CIO-CMO wars is that CIOs are said to respond too slowly to changes in the industry. It’s emerging technologies like those listed—whether it’s a smartwatch or new kinds of analytics—that lead individual departments to strike out in their own direction and set up a shadow network rather than wait for IT to figure it out.
In fact, Forrester’s Hopkins says that IT responsiveness to emerging technologies is on the decline. “Unfortunately, our survey data says that enterprise architects’ ability to anticipate business needs for emerging technology is trending in the wrong direction,” he writes. “Between 2012 and 2013, the number of businesses that were unhappy with their firm’s ability to introduce emerging technologies almost doubled. Now, in 2014-2015, we expect it to be even worse.”
Increasingly, business success is tied to an organization’s ability to be agile enough to exploit these emerging technologies, writes Dan Muse in CIO. “CIOs historically haven't tracked emerging technology closely because they have been mainly responsible for keeping the infrastructure running, reducing operating costs and managing new projects,” he writes. “The difference—and the cause for greater urgency—is that now your business success is tied to how well you understand, deliver and manage emerging technologies.”
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