If I asked you what the top emerging technology is for 2023, you would likely say generative AI (genAI). And you would be correct. But you can also see the hype bubble expanding daily. Today, every vendor is pumping genAI tools into every conceivable niche of their software portfolios (for example, check out this Salesforce announcement).

But there are still huge problems with trustworthiness, regulatory uncertainty, and IP issues to boot. For example, do the makers of today’s hot large language models (LLMs) owe a royalty to owners of the data used for training? How will genAI help you differentiate if your competitors are using the same models? Lastly, is genAI all that matters? Will it last, or will it flash in the frying pan and be gone? When will these questions have answers?

How We Picked The 2023 Top 10

We just published The Top 10 Emerging Technologies In 2023 report, and we’re hosting a free webinar for clients and nonclients (see more below). This year, we were more rigorous and expansive in our evaluation of emerging technologies than ever to help answer these questions. We also expanded the number of technologies considered, and we evolved our analysis of data in support of the selection. Specifically, we:

  • Updated our database to 410 technologies tracked. This includes all the immature technologies from our Tech Tide™ reports, others mentioned in our research, and many provided by clients and partners.
  • Curated and analyzed 75 priority emerging technologies. We went through several rounds of review internally to pick the 75 emerging technologies that were most important considering our customer base. Our analysis included examining client and Google search data, report quantity and readership, and vendor performance. We also evaluated data from academic research papers. Lastly, we surveyed 117 analysts, asking them for an impact assessment of each technology by area of coverage. From these dimensions, we create a composite score for each technology.
  • Hand-selected the top 20 finalists. We did not just go by straight numbers. Instead, we also looked at the distribution of our top 20 across various technology maturity horizons. We included some technologies that are less well known but will be important future bets.
  • Evaluated strategic importance to arrive at our final 10. The last step in our process was to evaluate the 20 finalists and consider the potential impacts of these technologies on important strategic imperatives for clients. Trust was a big one; customer obsession and future fitness were others. This was the final lens that brought the most important 10 into focus.

Benefits Horizons Help You Figure Out When A Technology Is Right

This year, we will present our top 10 according to Forrester’s new benefits horizon framework (see the figure). This model will help clients know when to invest in a technology, not only based on how mature it is but on how mature the clients are.

The idea of the benefits horizon is an important differentiator from other top emerging technology lists. Most analyst firms organize top emerging technologies into generic one-size-fits-all models. Our framework recognizes that more mature firms may take a more aggressive approach to investing in emerging technologies that are further out. For example, extended reality (XR) will make it into our top 10 list again this year, but it will be in the five-plus-years-out benefit horizon. Other firms might put this technology into a pit of despair. We advise differently. Placing XR in the five-plus-year horizon simply means that it will take that long to live up to an average firm’s expectations. Advanced companies can and probably should invest more, and more quickly, because they are better at managing expectations and risks. Take our technology management maturity assessment to find out how mature you are, which is a good gauge of how far forward you should lean into medium- and long-term-horizon technologies.

More Soon!

We are going through some final rounds of work on the top 10, and I’ll post another blog when the report drops in mid July. I’ll also give a webinar to nonclients on these technologies on July 25. Forrester Decisions clients can work directly with me now to get a spreadsheet of the top 20 or all 75 priority emerging technologies for their own horizon scanning and research.