Note: This is the first in four-part blog series highlighting our Top 10 Emerging Technologies in 2022 report. The others are: #2: Show Me The Value Of Emerging Technology, #3 Show Me (How Emerging Technologies Will Enable) The Future Of Consumer Digital Experiences, and #4 Show Me The Metaverse.

There was $30 billion in venture funding given to Web3 startups in 2021, even though no one can exactly say what it is or how businesses will make money on it. AI we call TuringBots is emerging that can learn to code and may boost developer productivity by an order of magnitude, but explainable AI is still a toddler. Are we ready to start trusting our code to bots?

We all want the magic that new technologies such as Web3 and TuringBots promise. Think about it: What if your firm is among the first to discover and scale a Web3 disruption? You could be like Google in 1998. What if the metaverse actually brought you, your customers, and your products together? What if bots could help your company build software applications? This sense of possibility is why two-thirds of firms we polled said that they are increasing their spend on emerging technology in 2022. It’s also why 84% of companies say that they have an emerging technology organization. But big budget increases make it hard to separate all the shiny toys from those that are important. When the money is flowing freely, you don’t have to be as discriminating … and discriminating you must be.

The Key Is Knowing Your Business

I’ve been working with clients on how to find the right emerging technologies for a decade now and have come to a few conclusions.

  • There is no single list of top emerging technologies. We’ll release Forrester’s annual top emerging technologies report very soon. In that report, I’ll name what we think are the top 10 emerging technologies that are important to most of our clients. Every organization will probably focus on a just few of those, however. When clients ask me about the most important emerging technologies, I always shape my answers by understanding their industry, their job, their firm’s strategy, and, most importantly, how they approach technologies. Are they traditional, modern, or future-fit in their approach to technology management?
  • Knowing when to expect benefits is important. Most firms barrel into emerging technology expecting immediate returns, only to be disappointed. Blockchain is a great example. We’ve seen clients’ high hopes for blockchain dashed on the rocks of reality, not just for technical reasons but also because of business and partner readiness. This doesn’t mean blockchain is bad; it just means these companies didn’t have a sense of benefits timing to set their expectations. Starting this year, we will tell you when to expect an emerging technology to be ready for most mainstream companies. For example, Web3 and the metaverse are at least five years, if not more, from generating value for most traditional firms. Intelligent agents and explainable AI, however, are closer but still two to four years away. Other technologies like cloud-native computing are generating significant benefits for traditional firms today. Knowing this is part one.
  • Taking the right action means “knowing thyself.” Understanding when a technology might create benefits for mainstream companies is important. If you are ahead of the curve, you can likely take more risk, but how much? Our new IT maturity framework will help you figure out if your technology management is traditional, modern, or future-fit. A future fit technology management strategy can help your firm take better risks on emerging technology, and our data shows that the future fit firms get the biggest payback.

Hear More At Technology & Innovation North America

I’d like to invite you to Forrester’s Technology & Innovation North America Forum, taking place September 29–30 in Austin, Texas. At that event, I’ll be delivering a keynote presentation to talk more deeply about these ideas and how they apply to Forrester’s top emerging technologies for 2022, and a special guest will be joining me: Matt Prince, Sr., senior strategic project manager from Boise Cascade, will also be there to show attendees how he built a multiyear view of emerging technology for his leadership team. I look forward to meeting you there!