The technologies that will have the biggest impact in the next three years

What should be on your technology watch list? Forrester provides its annual list of 15 technology trends to watch.
Written by Gene Leganza, Contributor on

The bar continues to be raised for productivity, for efficiency, and even for the rate of innovation.  And it’s technology that is enabling this continual improvement and driving disruptive change. In the year that has passed since Forrester published its last “top trends” research report, the technology landscape has continued to change. We have seen IT strategy documents with formal plans for diverse areas ranging from cloud-based deployments, which didn’t exist as an option five years ago, to strategies for tablet PCs — which didn’t exist as an option before Apple’s iPad launch in the spring of this year! As for what continues to emerge, public Webinars from vendors this year covered big data, NoSQL, social media analytics, green IT, security in the cloud — the list goes on and on.  

It used to be fine for an organization to characterize itself as a “fast follower” — one who learns the details about what has worked for other organizations and then generally keeps pace, just comfortably behind the “bleeding edge.” But as the pace of change increases and as leading organizations become more agile, the lag inherent in a wait-and-see strategy more significantly impacts organizations’ ability to compete.

You need a technology watch list. You need to know what’s coming, what’s beginning to be adopted, what’s reaching the mainstream now. And more than a watch list, you need a process for regularly evaluating the capabilities of emerging technology and mapping them to the needs of your organization.

That’s why Forrester has instituted the annual process of publishing The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch. We believe the EA team is the right home for matching new technology to the needs of evolving business capabilities because, with the adoption of formal business architecture practices, the EA role is the nexus of business and technology. Enterprise architects are in a position to take note of the opportunities and ensure that the right business and technical subject matter experts come together to find the value in new approaches to business problems.

To that end, Forrester began summarizing technology trends last year to help enterprise architects create their organizations’ technology watch lists. For this year’s list of top trends, we’ve used the same criteria — impact, newness, and complexity — but we’ve modified the categories, merged related topics, added five new trends, and updated all the entries with this year’s perspective. This year’s categories? “Empowered” technologies, process-centric data and intelligence, agile and fit-to-purpose applications, and smart technology management. Also new in the publication this year are the results from a survey we ran as input to this report that asked respondents to rate more than 40 technologies for impact to their organization in the next three years.

For this year’s report, we strove for a combination of continuity with last year’s report — last year’s trends will continue to roll out over the next few years — and the introduction of new material such as new trends, the survey results, and a roadmap graphic that you can use to map your own way forward. Give it a read and, as always, let us know your thoughts.

- Gene Leganza

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