Make Emerging Tech Your Competitive Advantage

December 01, 2021

Contributor: Ashutosh Gupta

These are the key trends and technologies coming between 2021 and 2023.

How does your organization stack up against your peers when it comes to technology adoption? What technology do you need to deployed in the next 12 to 18 months?

To answer these questions, Gartner Senior Content Marketing Manager Kasey Panetta interviewed Leinar Ramos, Director, Advisory, for our ThinkCast podcast. Leinar shared his thoughts on this year’s emerging technology roadmap, the most interesting technology on the list, unexpected key trends and tips on how organizations can use the roadmap alongside the Gartner Hype Cycle™ for Emerging Technologies. The transcript that follows has been edited for clarity and length.

Download now: 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap

What is the Emerging Technology Roadmap and how is it different from the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies?

It is a benchmarking tool that we created about a decade ago to help IT leaders navigate their technology planning and decisions. Every year we run a survey, and we ask organizations about their technology plans and summarize the gathered information into a single-page view. They can see which emerging technologies their peers are investing in and which technologies they're skeptical about. 

While the emerging technology roadmap focuses organizations’ plans for the next 12 to 18 months, the hype cycle looks at technology investments from a long-term perspective: two years, five years or even 10 years down the line. For the roadmap, data comes from the organizations that are implementing the technologies but for the hype cycle, data comes from Gartner analysts. 

How many technologies are featured in this year’s emerging technology roadmap, and how were they selected? 

This year we’re featuring 111 technologies. Every year we look at our recently published research, the hype cycles, previous year's technology roadmap and everything that we're hearing from clients. Different Gartner analysts then validate and debate internally to come up with the best possible list of technologies. 

For each of those technologies we ask three types of questions when surveying our clients, namely:  

  • How valuable is each emerging technology for them?
  • What is the level of risk when deploying each of these technologies? 
  • In which phase of technology deployment they are at? Do they have an ongoing pilot or are they even deploying this technology at this point? 

We collect all of this data and create an aggregated view for our clients to benchmark themselves against.

What key trends are highlighted in the roadmap?

One of the positive trends this year pertains to edge computing. Organizations that moved to the cloud have realized that a centralized cloud model is not the best approach for some use cases. You might think of scenarios where a lot of data comes from sensors distributed in the field. If you want to make real-time decisions in these scenarios, then sending back the data to a central cloud doesn’t make sense. Therefore, enterprises are increasing their efforts to adopt edge computing that provides automated, immersive and distributed interactions with data.

Another key trend is not really about technology, but the growing risk of talent shortage that is even eclipsing risks related to security and vendor maturity. This is something that we’ve seen this year with talent availability becoming a barrier for adopting technologies like edge computing.  

Among the emerging technologies, which one is the most interesting? 

The most interesting one is zero trust network access (ZTNA). The last couple of years really changed the game when it comes to security and networks. Earlier, we used to set up our defenses around a corporate perimeter to keep the bad actors away, and we had things like VPNs, firewalls and so forth. With the postpandemic surge in remote work, there has been a sharp rise in cyberattacks as the surface area of attack is quite wide now. In such a scenario, ZTNA becomes a super-important shift in the way that we think about security and networks, because as a concept it is centered around the belief that organizations should not trust any device by default, and therefore, every device potentially becomes a bad actor. 

How can organizations use this emerging technology roadmap? 

Organizations can use the roadmap in a couple of ways, namely:

  • To benchmark their technology adoption plans. They can either look at the whole roadmap, consisting of 111 technologies, or simply focus on a few categories or technologies that are perhaps interesting to them. They can then validate their perceptions around risks and value for the chosen technologies or categories. 
  • To treat it as the starting point in their technology roadmap exercises when creating their own roadmaps.

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