Think back just a few years: Social, mobile, cloud and Big Data ruled the emerging technology landscape. Business and technology-management executives wondered what Big Data meant, when the cloud would disrupt their companies, and how to engage effectively on social channels. In 2016, Hadoop turned 10, the cloud has been around even longer, and social has become a way of business and life. So, what’s next?
There are 15 emerging technologies Forrester thinks you need to follow closely. We organized this year’s list into three groups: systems of engagement technologies that will help you become customer-led; systems of insight technologies that will help you become insight-driven; and supporting technologies will help you become fast and connected.
(Related: Qualcomm and Verizon team up on IoT)
Why these 15? You might have noticed a few glaring omissions. Certainly blockchains have garnered a lot of attention, and 3D printing is on most of our competitors’ lists. The answer goes back to being customer-led, insights-driven, fast, and connected. Those of you who follow our research will recognize these as the four principles of customer-obsessed operations. The technologies we selected will have the biggest impact on your ability to win, serve and retain customers whose expectations of service through technology are only going up. Furthermore, our list focuses on those technologies that will have the biggest business impact in the next five years. We think blockchains’ big impact outside of financial services, for example, is further out, so they didn’t make our list. Maybe they will by 2018.
Here are a few key technologies that Forrester believes have the potential to change the world:
IoT software and solutions that bring customer engagement potential within reach. These software platforms and solutions act as a bridge between highly specialized sensor, actuator, compute and networking technology for real-world objects and related business software. This technology gives firms visibility into and control of customer and operational realities. By 2021, technology for specific use cases will be mature, but protocol diversity, immature standards, and the need for organizational changes will still stymie or delay many firms.
Intelligent agents coupled with AI/cognitive technologies will automate engagement and solve tasks. Intelligent agents represent a set of AI-powered solutions that understand users’ behavior and are discerning enough to interpret needs and make decisions on their behalf. By 2021, we think that automation, supported by intelligent software agents driven by an evolution in AI and cognitive tech, will have eliminated a net 6% of U.S. jobs. But the loss won’t be uniform. There will be an 11% loss of jobs that are vulnerable, and a 5% increase of jobs in industries that stand to benefit.
Augmented reality overlays digital information and experiences on the physical world using combinations of cameras and displays. While we cover both VR and AR, we find that though a lot of attention has been placed on VR, AR has more play for enterprises in the short term and eventually for consumers. By 2021, we will be fully into a transition period between separated and tightly blended physical and digital experiences in our work and lives.
Hybrid wireless technology will eventually create connected everything. Hybrid wireless technologies are the interfaces, and software allows devices to simultaneously leverage and translate between two or more wireless providers, protocols, and frequency bands, such as light, radio, WiFi, cellular, and Sigfox. By 2021, a virtual network infrastructure will emerge to weave together wireless technologies that globally connect IoT and customer engagement platforms.
A lot of change is coming—it’s time to make your technology bets.