Welcome to the July 2023 edition of Top Conversations in Technology, where we break down which topics are leading, rising and falling each month to help technology marketers maximize relevance and adapt to changing market dynamics. In this month’s analysis, we focus on variations in news and blog citation volumes month-over-month (versus June 2023) and year-over-year (versus July 2022).
July’s Top Conversations: Apparently June was the quiet before a new Elon Musk-related storm. The shift of Twitter to “X” became Musk’s most recent attempt to grab the spotlight. And based on headline volume, it worked – as his battle with San Francisco on signage, along with debates tied to the app itself, impacted conversations from #2 Smartphones to #93 Video Messaging (up from #211 with 14x mentions more than ever). While the name change brought nostalgia for those of us who harken back to the pre-PayPal X.com days, for others it just brought another eye roll. So while Musk may not have bested Mark Zuckerberg in the MMA ring (yet), conversations did shift away from the #36 Metaverse (down 17%). Well played, sir. Annoying but well played.
What About the Top 10? There was notable movement within the top 10, though no topics fell out in July. Artificial Intelligence maintained the #1 spot for the third month in a row, posting a 9% increase, surprising no one as this topic seems to be impacting every market. Smartphones climbed to #2 (up 36%), tied to a variety of discussions including links between smartphones and AI, Twitter rebranding, Musk’s first amendment battle with a hate speech watchdog group, and iPhone 15 previews. #3 Cryptocurrencies (down 3%) and #4 Bitcoin (down 1%) each slid one spot in the rankings and were the only top 10 topics to post a decline in volume.
From there, #5 Drones (up 23%) moved up one spot, displacing #6 Supply Chain (up 10%) with a bigger gain as more drone attacks in Russia and Ukraine generated media coverage. #7 Ecommerce (up 35%) also gained one spot, displacing #8 Blockchain (up 2% but down one spot). #9 Cybersecurity (up 16%) and #10 Wi-Fi (up 27%) held position, reversing losses posted in June and maintaining positions in the top 10.
What’s Climbing: July showed a reversal of June declines, with about 62% of topics posting a gain (vs. 35% in June). In addition to #93 Video Messaging, other topics with big gains but less impressive rankings included #227 Enterprise Browser (up 143%), #244 Utility Computing (up 110%) and #209 Embedded Payments (up 101%).
Other interesting standouts posted gains due to emerging news stories – like #45 Domain Name (up 86%) and #163 Data Loss Prevention/DLP (up 76%), both up on coverage of U.K. and U.S. governmental slips that exposed sensitive information due to the confusion between the domain names MIL (US Military) and ML (Mali), the latter being a Russian ally. Also #200 Surveillance Capitalism (up 65%), which received increased attention tied to AI as apps and websites are set up to manipulate or mislead site visitors based on AI-driven profiling. I’m sure this also plays into the growth seen in #17 Encryption (up 36%). Meanwhile, #13 User Experience showed its third month of gains, up 31% tied to AI (ChatGPT) and Twitter (comparisons with Threads).
What’s Falling: We saw significant declines in topics that posted big gains in June, including #241 Humane Technology (down 89%, from #207), #243 Emotional AI (down 68%, from #234) and #215 Cognitive Computing (down 41%), all of which were boosted in June by coverage tied to President Biden’s AI summit. Other topics with sizable declines included #229 Threat Intelligence Platform (down 68%), #240 Voice Interface (down 68%) and #175 Domain Name System (down 57%). The last has been continuously falling since it peaked in December 2022 due in part to the resignation of ICANN CEO Göran Marby.
Other topics in the top 100 posted less dramatic shifts (less than 20% decline in volume). #42 Augmented Reality was the outlier (down 26%), but other drops were seen in:
- #98 Digital Twin – down 18%
- #73 Quantum Computing – down 18%
- #36 Metaverse – down 16%
- #38 SaaS – down 15%
- #28 Virtual Reality – down 15%
- #85 Threat Intelligence – down 14%
- #51 Remote Work – down 10%
All these topics except Virtual Reality and Threat Intelligence posted the second month of declines. Additionally, there are some clear links with Augmented and Virtual Reality, along with Metaverse, all down as the narrative focused more on the “verse” formerly known as Twitter. Remote Work has also been tied to Twitter as Musk reversed the previous policy and started requiring staff to be in the office. That’s a topic to watch, as hybrid models gain traction in the post-Covid world.
So What, Now What? This week alone there have been so many stories that will impact our August findings. Zoom announced it would require in-office attendance; Musk and Zuckerberg signaled a potential date for the cage match of the year (August 26); and with the end of Taylor Swift’s North American concert tour, it appears the economy may be in for a rough patch. But the July jobs report showed that unemployment was lower than expected, so that’s good, right? Especially with the rise in concerns about AI’s growing role in society. Hopefully it’s at least Kenough.
Questions? Comments? See a topic we are not tracking? Please share below, and we will address in future installments.