Investing in emerging technologies has always presented IT executives with a quandary: When is the right time to jump in? How quickly will the new technologies deliver results? What will happen if they don't?
Last year, CIOs told us they faced an uphill battle in in their efforts to justify IT investments. If the technologies haven't been widely deployed, the thinking went, there's little evidence to demonstrate their potential.
Unfotunately, the situation isn't any easier this year, according to our 2008 Emerging Technologies Survey.
CIOs say their companies invest in new technologies primarily to improve business processes. Boosting productivity and reducing costs also rank high. However, to get support from business executives, CIOs say, the cost-cutting argument goes the farthest.
That may reflect the current economic slowdown. While most CIOs don't expect their strategy to change in the short term, a considerable number of them say the downturn could force changes later in the year. If that happens, the rest of 2008 could be rocky for emerging technologies.
Today, however, a number of technologies are thriving. Our survey shows higher levels of evaluation, testing and adoption of Web 2.0 tools. And a growing number of companies are considering the use of smart phones as mobile clients, giving increased credibility to the longtime hype around the power of mobility.
Our research study also reveals that different technologies deliver different kinds of re-sults. Storage virtualization, for example, gets points for cost savings, but none for process improvements.
Some buzz-worthy technologies--Semantic Web, mobile robots and prediction market systems, for instance--have barely registered a blip on the enterprise radar screen. The fewer companies that test these technologies, the longer it will take for them to be widely adopted, leaving intrigued CIOs unclear about the potential risks and rewards.
That lack of clarity--together with the gloomy economic forecast--leaves many business executives wary of exploring any emerging technologies. But failure to invest now can put businesses well behind their competition.
--Research analysis by Guy Currier