CIOs in all industries face a challenge (or opportunity, if you're a glass-half-full kind of person): how to craft near- and long-term plans as technology rapidly evolves and becomes more integrated with business success. The requirement for new technology adoption is often led by the business, leaving CIOs to react to the strategy rather than take a practical approach to push new technologies through to the business. To combat this, CIOs should gauge IT's readiness for new technology adoption and for the next phase of technology innovation and growth. How? Create a technology watch list to determine which new technology tools could have the most impact on your business. Next, CIOs must work with their leadership team to develop IT infrastructure and knowledge and educate business peers on future technology needs.

Coming to an IT organisation near you

To help you decide what should be on your technology watch list, Forrester has identified 15 technology trends that CIOs should look out for in the next three years. Assessed by their impact, newness, and complexity, Forrester has grouped these 15 technology trends into five distinct themes:

• Theme 1: Social Computing in and around the enterprise.

As businesses look to become more effective across different departments, functions, and processes, Social Computing in and around the enterprise will become more widespread. Forrester has identified three Social Computing trends that CIOs should look out for: 1) the growth of people-centric collaboration platforms; 2) the integration of customer community platforms with business apps; and 3) the common use of telepresence services.
• Theme 2: process-centric data and intelligence.
For the business to detect and respond to market opportunities, IT must empower frontline staff with applications that can process information on customer behavior and market conditions in real-time. CIOs should keep track of three technology trends that allow the business to become responsive: 1) the demand for real-time business intelligence; 2) the maturity of master data management; and 3) the requirement for real-time data quality services.
• Theme 3: restructured IT service platforms.
Business leaders planning for growth expect the processes they use to be scalable and flexible while remaining cost-effective. For CIOs to support and influence business strategy by providing cost-effective and scalable IT services, they must assess IT's readiness to support three IT service platform trends: 1) the ubiquitous deployment of software-as-a-service for packaged applications; 2) the standardized infrastructure for cloud-based platforms and platform-as-a-service; and 3) the universal adoption of client virtualization solutions for improving desktop and application availability.

• Theme 4: Agile and fit-to-purpose applications.
A number of new technologies will improve the way the business can leverage applications. Forrester has identified four significant technology trends on Agile, fit-to-purpose applications for CIOs to track: 1) the mainstream use of business rules processing to allow business managers to maintain rules and quickly explore ways of optimizing business processes; 2) the extension of current business process management implementations to support Web 2.0; 3) the expansion of policy-based service-oriented architecture; and 4) the increased importance of data-content-based security.
• Theme 5: mobile as the new desktop.
Powered by network and infrastructure enhancements, business leaders will look to expand the use of mobile technologies as a business platform for services and specialist applications for sales and operations. Two technology trends for CIOs to keep in mind when planning their near- and long-term technology strategy are: 1) the impact of mobile-enabled applications and business processes; and 2) the development of mobile networks and devices.

The 15 technology trends mentioned in this column are described in the Forrester report "The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch" by Alex Cullen (October 6, 2009), which can be found on Forrester's website through this link:

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