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New technologies are emerging faster than ever. Companies who fail to recognize which technology is right for them could risk losing time, money and productivity. It would be one thing if innovation trickled down from the C-level suite, but we’ve learned that it’s more likely for ideas to come from empowered customers and employees. But what if there was another way to know which technologies to keep an eye on. Thanks to Forrester’s: The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch, there is.

Trend-setting Technologies

Enterprise architects, or whatever title they may have been given in your company, can match new technology to the needs of evolving business capabilities. According to Forrester:

Enterprise architects are in a position to take note of the opportunities and ensure that the right business and technical subject-matter experts come together to find the value in new approaches to business problems.

The report, The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013, outlines technologies based on a technology’s combined impact on business and IT, its newness and its complexity. By fitting technologies into 4 categories, the following list was compiled:

"Empowered" Technologies

Based on Forrester’s book Empowered, this category outlines key technology trends driven by an increasingly tech-savvy workforce.

  • SaaS and cloud-based platforms become standard
  • Collaboration platforms become people-centric
  • Customer community platforms integrate with business apps
  • Apps and business processes go mobile on powerful devices and faster networks
  • Telepresence gains widespread use

Process-Centric Data and Intelligence

From real-time business analytics and real-time data quality services to content analytics and social network analysis, these technologies will help companies make sense of unstructured data that can play a critical part in daily operations.

  • Next-generation Business Intelligence takes shape combining real-time access with pervasiveness, agility and self-service
  • Analytics target text and social networks
  • IaaS finds a broader audience
  • Master data management matures

Agile and Fit-to-Purpose Applications

Technologies that will improve application flexibility have been around for while, but these three technologies are predicted to have the largest impact on applications' ability to change.

Smart Technology Management

Virtualized infrastructure resources are more prevalent than ever, and as a result, EAs will need a repository for planning artifacts which will help them analyze and understand exactly where business impact is going to come from.

  • System management enables continued virtualization
  • IT embraces planning and analysis tools to manage the future
  • Client virtualization is ubiquitous

Get In the Driver's Seat

Forrester’s list isn’t designed to make IT departments scurry frantically to adopt these technologies. Instead, it’s aimed at making IT departments as empowered as their employees. By understanding what, how and why specific technologies are trending, it can lend insight about the expectations put forth by employees and customers alike. This list isn’t a mandate and only time will tell what catches on, but by being a driver, instead of wayward passenger, companies can begin to feel more in control of the technologies they implement.