Where are they now? The 10 former top technologies that didn’t make the 20 for 20

Cosmin Laslau, Ph.D., Director, Research Products & Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research

If you’ve had the chance to read our annual 20 for 20 predictions report, you may have noticed that there’s been a lot of changes from past years. No less than 10 technologies that made our 2019 list didn't make the 2020 list. So, what happened to technologies like wearable electronics, machine learning, and generative design? 

Technologies that dropped from the list are still important – just not in the top 20 for this year. Generally, those that dropped did so in one of three ways, with slightly different implications for executives planning their innovation strategies. 

There are three main reasons a technology did not make our 2020 list: 

  1. It went mainstream  companies not using this technology are alarmingly behind 
  2. It changed form  like wearable electronics, which we now consider part of point-of-use sensing 
  3. It fell, relatively  the technology may still have disruptive impact, but is seeing slower adoption 

Technologies that have gone mainstream continue to have major impact but are now standard practice. There’s no doubt that major past innovations like the internal combustion engine, indoor plumbing, or the internet, still have massive impacts in our lives but they’re no longer transformational –they’re just technological air we breathe. 

Similarly, some new technologies are now such standard practice that it’s hardly helpful to include them on a forward-looking list of transformational tech. There will still be impactful innovations in these areas, but innovation executives should focus their thinking more around those particular innovations rather than the broader space. 

Other technologies like wearable electronics, genome editing, and precision medicine, still appear in a different form or as one element of a broader innovation area on the list. Wearables was among the very top technologies in 2019 and 2018 – however, we still think wearable electronics are incredibly important, they are most impactful for the data collection opportunities that they enable. Thus, we now see them as part of the larger tech trend of point-of-use sensing. Tech innovations are often intertwined so this grouping and framing is somewhat subjective but, in this case, we aim to present tech in the ways that are most useful for thinking about business impact. 

In other cases, technologies simply got pushed down the list by others’ growing innovation interest and potential. Narrowing the full range of impactful tech innovations down to just 20 is a challenge. Some valuable ones just don’t quite make the cut, even if they have in previous years. These technologies are still important to follow if they impact your industry. Just remember they didn’t make the top 20 for a reason.  

Technologies that dropped off our new list aren’t suddenly loser or busts – they're just not quite suitable for selection to the top 20 transformational technologies. Tech innovation is dynamic and rapidly changing, with many closely matched technologies vying for commercial impact. The reality is that there are many more transformational technologies that can be worth following closely. Highlighting the top 20 hardly means that other technologies are completely unimportant.  

 

 

 

FURTHER READING

- Executive Summary: 20 for 20 Annual Report (Free Download)

- Infographic: Lux Research 20 for 20 Annual Report Infographic

- Executive Summary: 19 for 2019 Report (Last Year's List)

- Blog: The Top 20 Transformational Technologies to Watch in 2020

 
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