In a recent interview, a legacy tech analyst made the following statement in response to a question about ChatGPT:
“ChatGPT, as currently conceived, is a parlor trick. It’s something that isn’t actually itself going to solve what people need, unless what they need is sort of a distraction.”
Clever. Smug. With just a hint of condescension. Reminds me of the statements we used to hear from print newspaper and magazine publishers back in the Internet’s early days. Ironically, I came across the quote while exploring ChatGPT as part of my weekly dive into emerging technologies. As much as I would love to use this post to swing at the increasingly fragile piñata that is the legacy tech analyst model, not to mention any specific pros and cons of ChatGPT that I’ve had a chance to consider so far, I’ll save these for another time.
The key lesson here is that keeping an eye on emerging technologies is critical for business technology leaders. As a part of Acceleration Economy’s practitioner-led Analyst Network made up of CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CMOs, CISOs, C-level partner ecosystem leaders, and more, we have a unique, collective understanding of why emerging technologies matter and how business tech leaders can stay up to date in evaluating them. Here’s a hint . . . it’s not by hearing glib, self-aggrandizing quotes from legacy tech analysts who have never bought or managed technology in business.
For context, Wikipedia defines Emerging Technologies as:
“…technologies whose development, practical applications, or both are still largely unrealized. These technologies are generally new but also include older technologies finding new applications. Emerging technologies are often perceived as capable of changing the status quo.”
Why Understanding Emerging Technology Is Critical Today
Everything that powers modern business today was, at one point, an emerging technology, including semiconductors, personal computers, mobile phones, LANs, wireless, cloud, Bluetooth, voice and video over IP, and the Internet itself. These may all seem obvious and essential now, but in the early days of any technology, it’s not always clear what will take off. Every business technology leader has a story about buying into an emerging technology that never emerged or passing on an emerging technology that went mainstream overnight.
It’s obvious why understanding emerging technology today is critical: Technology innovation is moving at hyper-speed. The introduction of, say, artificial intelligence to the commercial application of technology happens far faster today. And it’s getting faster all the time. This means that technology leaders need to dedicate time to learn about, analyze, and evaluate emerging technologies that may be impactful for their businesses as a regular part of their work. And they won’t get there by looking only at quadrants put together by analysts who have never put their careers on the line by making a decision on a new or emerging technology.
How to Keep on Top of Emerging Trends
Our team of practitioner analysts has defined four technology categories, which we call the four pillars of the Acceleration Economy. Collectively they account for well over half of all business technology purchasing. They are also the foundational technology sectors that are enabling business transformation, growth, and scale today. The four pillars are:
You can learn more about the four pillars in my recent CXO Minute on the topic.
To help busy business leaders today, Acceleration Economy delivers regular analysis of emerging technologies and the companies behind them, organized into each of these four major categories. We also do so in a range of formats, from short-form video “minutes,” like the one linked to above, to interviews, roundtables, articles, digital summits, and live events. These are all created, hosted, and produced by business technology practitioners who have hands-on experience in evaluating, purchasing, and managing new and emerging technologies in business.
Applying Real-World Experience
Twenty-plus years ago, as a CEO, I realized that harnessing technology’s power had become the central issue in the businesses I ran. I’ve been involved in well over $500 million in business technology investments and have invested in emerging technologies many times. I didn’t grow up an information technology (IT) executive, but building major technology information businesses like InformationWeek, TechWeb, PCWeek, PC Magazine, Computer Intelligence, Black Hat, Interop, and others made me an expert on why and how technology is purchased in business.
Launched in the early days of Web 1.0, Informationweek.com was one of the first commercial websites, and we were hailed as future-thinking “digital publishers.” My colleague here at Acceleration Economy, Bob Evans, and I also launched InformationWeek Daily, one of the first commercial email newsletters. The New York Times touted the launch as “an innovative example of using the technology of email to create a new revenue stream.” While these examples seem trite today, making investments in these still emerging technologies was a “bet your career” decision at the time. Thankfully, they paid off. The process I developed was simple. I dedicated a minimum of one hour per week to learn about emerging technologies, something I have continued to do for more than 20 years. I sure wish a resource like Acceleration Economy existed earlier in my career!
We will continue to introduce you to emerging technologies throughout 2023 and beyond. We’d also love to hear from you about which new technologies you’d like our business technology analysts to cover.
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