We’re excited to announce that we’ve finalized our selections for Forrester’s top emerging technologies for 2024. We’ll spotlight the top 10 emerging technologies in our main report, which will publish in late June, and then we’ll release a report in July on technologies 11 through 20.

This year, the overwhelming wave of AI technologies influenced our selection process. I often joke with clients that this year there are two types of emerging tech: those that are AI, and those that AI is accelerating. Despite the groans I get, it’s still true, even though AI fatigue among clients is setting in. Where is the upheaval projected? What about other technologies that are emerging? What’s after the buzz around AI? These pressing questions informed our analysis. A key takeaway for our upcoming report is perseverance. Remember, it’s in our nature to overestimate a technology’s immediate effects but under-call its long-term potential. That’s what is happening with AI. It is and will change the world, but it will not happen overnight, nor will it happen in a smooth curve.

What Changed And Didn’t Change In 2024?

This year, we are still organizing our top emerging technologies by “benefit horizon” as a proxy for maturity. The benefit horizon is a way to answer the main question that everyone wants to know: “When will this technology be able to help my firm?” It expresses readiness in terms of more specific ROI for short-term technologies. Benefits get fuzzier the further out you go, which makes sense. Our top 10 horizons are set as an average for all our clients, but we encourage you to create benefit horizons that are specific to your industry.

  • Short-term benefit horizon (<2 years): technologies with emerging but proven capabilities that should deliver expected ROI for most firms within the next two years
  • Medium-term benefit horizon (2–5 years): technologies with emerging capabilities that are not entirely proven and rapidly evolving, with most clients expecting to see significant benefits in 2–5 years
  • Long-term benefit horizon (5+ years): technologies that will take five or more years to deliver tangible value for most firms

What did change in our analysis this year? Here are some highlights:

  • Generative AI splits. Generative AI for language and generative AI for images/video are diverging in use cases and development speeds, necessitating separate categorization and analysis. We may tweak these names a bit before we publish.
  • Three new technologies move up. We are introducing three new technologies to our top 10 list. These have been percolating for a while — some for a long while. But our analysis leads us to believe that the time is right for most firms to go deeper. Hint: Quantum security is on our top 20 list.
  • Autonomous workplace assistants expand. One technology has undergone a significant expansion in scope this year: Autonomous workplace assistants are now AI agents. We can’t give away too much right now, but I will say that this one is perhaps the most significant change, so be sure to loop back when the report is released to find out why.

We Further Enhanced Our Selection Process

Over the last three years, we have invested substantially in upgrading our evaluation and selection process. This year is no different; we made some big improvements:

  • Database overhaul. We overhauled our emerging technology tracking database, removing outdated technologies to ensure that our list reflects the most current and forward-thinking innovations. We also cast the net more broadly to include new technologies in the system and expanded our analyst team involvement to ensure that our data quality stays top-notch.
  • Incorporation of more financial data. We integrated more financial data into our analysis, examining company portfolios for each technology and scrutinizing trends in venture capital investments. Part of this was based off of National Science Foundation grant data to identify emerging research trends.
  • Investment trends of major technology companies. We considered the investment strategies of the “magnificent seven” technology giants to glean insights into industry trajectories. We believe that the venture investment of these companies will be a big factor in the future of technology.

Next Steps

If you are a Forrester Decisions client, schedule a guidance session with me, and I’ll share a preview of our top emerging technologies research with you, including a list of our top 75 and top 20 technologies for 2024. Look for the report coming out on June 24. If you’re not a Forrester client, look out for more blogs, an episode of the What It Means podcast, and an upcoming webinar in July.