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How Can Emerging Technology Actually Drive Value for Companies?

Every major business is looking for ways to become a market leader, and emerging tech can be leveraged as a tool to get there. But how can companies sift through the options and effectively use new technology to drive growth and innovation?

“We want to be the 800-pound gorillas of the businesses, of the markets, in which we choose to compete. Companies have a big expectation that emerging technology is going to be what helps them get there,” Brian Hopkins VP, Emerging Tech Portfolio, at research and advisory company Forrester, said during a keynote session at Forrester’s Data Strategy & Insights event this week.

Emerging technology is an exciting prospect, but how can technology leaders make the business case for exploration and adoption? First, comes the question of determining the most promising emerging technologies.

Hopkins pointed to Forrester’s “The Top 10 Emerging Technologies in 2022” report, which highlights:

  • Explainable AI
  • Edge intelligence
  • TuringBots
  • Natural language processing
  • Extended reality
  • Web3
  • Intelligent agents
  • Zero-trust edge
  • Privacy-preserving technologies
  • Cloud-native computing

Among those 10 technologies, data and insights emerges as a core theme.

Hopkins explored the possibilities that come with some of these technologies. He offered the example of natural language processing, intelligent agents and TuringBots. Eventually, these technologies could evolve and take over a significant chunk of coding for enterprises, freeing up developers to focus on other pursuits. “As these things mature, we think it means a 10x improvement in your developers’ productivity,” Hopkins said.

Edge intelligence is making headway in real-world examples. Hopkins described how the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases is using an AI platform from HP Enterprises to implement distributed machine learning architecture. This project is bringing together highly regulated data from hospitals, universities, and government organizations. But it isn’t just about data sharing. It is about accelerating model development, allowing models to teach each other.

Increased Technology Spending

Money is flowing into new technology; 65% of firms are increasing their spending on emerging technology, according to Hopkins. “It is a pretty big number considering the economic uncertainty that we are in,” he said.

But many businesses take a conservative approach. Yes, new technology is exciting, and there is money to spend, but why? Executives need to see how implementing emerging technology is going to support enterprise strategy.

A Forrester survey of data and analytics professionals this year revealed some telling insights. The survey grouped respondents into three maturity levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

“It's those advanced insight-driven businesses that are actually driving big growth numbers, growing at two to three times faster than peers in the industry, becoming or staying those 800-pound gorillas,” Hopkins explained.

Turning Tech into Action

There is a connection between advancing data management analytics practices and the ability to derive value from emerging technologies. The most successful companies understand how to turn emerging technology into action.

The framework for making emerging technology actionable begins with the question: Is the technology ready for your company? “Can it do what your business needs it to do?” Hopkins asked.

Next, leaders need to consider if their companies are ready for the technology. “We really think about three maturity windows in which the emerging technologies will deliver return on investment,” Hopkins said.

Already, some of these technologies are being widely used in companies today. “There's cloud data computing and natural language processing. Those things are delivering benefits for mainstream average firms today,” Hopkins pointed out.

Others on the list, like explainable AI, edge intelligence and intelligent agents, are two to four years out for most firms, according to Hopkins. TuringBots, Web3, and extended reality could be five or more years out.

Each company can decide which technologies it can gain value from today, which it can start experimenting with, and which it should watch and learn.

Sorting emerging technology into those three maturity windows offers companies a timeline, but they still need a compelling reason for adoption. Hopkins talked about how a Forrester client linked emerging technology to ESG reporting requirements.

“He explained explainable AI and blockchain not as these cool whizbang things, but as things that actually did something that his business cared about,” said Hopkins. Taking this approach makes emerging technology a business decision executives can understand and get behind.

Emerging technology is an important tool in market disruption and leadership, but it needs people who have the power of data and insights for storytelling to make it actionable.

Hopkins argued, “The key is not the emerging technology. The key is you.”

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