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The pace of technology-fuelled business innovation is accelerating and enterprises need to be ready to jump on opportunities or dodge threats.

In a recent survey, Forrester asked IT professionals what the most disruptive technologies would be: Mobile applications and mobile platforms took the top two spots. Big Data’s most important impact is on real-time analytics. And, respondents indicated that cloud and business intelligence drive more evolutionary change than revolutionary change.

These results shouldn’t surprise anyone. However, if you are only looking at these, you are likely to get smacked in the face when you blink - things are changing that fast. In the near future, new platforms built on today’s hot technologies will create more disruption. For example, by 2016 there will be 760 million tablets in use and almost one-third will be sold to business. If that’s the case, by 2018 mobile will be the norm. So then what?

To answer this question, IT leaders need to extend their view of the future. Forrester’s Emerging Technology Playbook outlines the importance of examining how today’s hot technologies will create platforms for future disruption. For example, don’t simply focus on mobile. Instead a mobile focus should be built into emerging technologies such as next generation devices and UIs, advanced collaboration and communication, systems of engagement, and cloud application frameworks.

This year there are four groups where we believe the biggest impact will be made and where CIOs would be best to focus their attention – 1. end user computing, 2. sensors and remote computing, 2. process data management and 4. infrastructure and application platforms.

End User Computing technologies – these technologies will expand client computing capabilities, improve collaboration, and provide much more personalized mobile experiences:

Sensors And Remote Computing technologies – these technologies enable more information collection and processing outside of data centers, extending the boundary of businesses’ digital realms:

Process Data Management technologies – these emerging technologies add intelligence and adaptability to process management and enable more value from more data more quickly and more cheaply.

Infrastructure And Application Platforms - A wide range of innovations are happening at the infrastructure layer to create much more capable infrastructure and application platforms.

Many IT leaders admit to being blindsided by emerging technology opportunities or failing to avoid disruptive threats. They further admit that getting caught unaware hurts. Using this list as a basis for business technology strategic planning and as a window into what’s on the horizon, should help eliminate any such issues.

Brian Hopkins is Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, serving Enterprise Architecture professionals.