Welcome to the May 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 April 2023) and year-over-year (versus May 2022).
May’s Top Conversations: Artificial Intelligence unseated Cryptocurrencies for the #1 spot, posting an impressive 39% gain (equivalent to 126K stories) from April to May. This is HUGE, as Crypto and Bitcoin have been locked into the #1 and #2 spots since July 2020. They moved down to #2 and #3 with both posting marginal losses (down 4% and 3%, respectively). Under normal circumstances, that would not have impacted their rankings. But this may be a new normal.
Along with the top 3 shake-up, there was other notable movement in the top 10. #4 Smartphone dropped one spot despite posting a 6% increase in story volume. #5 Drones posted a substantial 52% increase tied to usage in bombing attacks in Russia and Ukraine. Blockchain held steady at #6 (up 4%), while #7 Supply Chain was basically level in story volume but fell two spots (switching with Drones). Meanwhile, there were no changes for #8 E-Commerce (up 4%), #9 Cybersecurity (up 9%), and #10 Wi-Fi (up 7%) despite all three topics posting story volume increases.
What’s Climbing: Everything related to AI. Which means nearly everything in tech, as 73% of the conversations we track (180 of 245) posted gains in May. Topping the list for percentage growth, as usual, were lower–volume topics like #244 Business Services Management (up 600%, from 2 to 14 stories). But there were impactful mid–ranking, multi-digit gains as well, including:
- #120 Passkey, up 457% tied to Google’s new passkey alternative to passwords;
- #159 Accelerated Computing, up 366% on coverage of Nvidia’s AI chip boom and resulting trillion-dollar valuation;
- #177 Data Operations, up141% tied to the EU fining Meta $1.3B over data privacy;
- #71 Gig Economy, up 108% tied to the Hollywood writers’ strike and the use of AI as a replacement;
- #209 Location Tracking and Privacy, up 79% on Google’s settlement with Washington state and new security and privacy features for Android; and
- #156 Mobile Security, up 71% tied to the Montana TikTok ban.
What’s Falling: Not much in May, with only 27% of topics losing ground (65 of 245). Existing losses were less substantial than gains. Again, lower-volume topics took the biggest percentage hits, as demonstrated by #245 Threat Telemetry, down 84% following an RSA spike, and #202 Collaboration Software, down 82% after a spike fueled by Generative AI discussions. From there, the highest-ranking topics that registered sizeable declines included:
- #68 Quantum Computing – down 62%
- #16 Layoffs/Furloughs – down 16%
- #61 Domain Name – down 16%
- #23 Encryption– down 10%
- #63 Firewall – down 10%
Like Collaboration Software, Quantum Computing was down after a surge in April coverage that linked it to AI advancements. There were fewer layoff announcements in May, but it is difficult to tell if that will hold. Domain Name has been on a downward slide since January, and reached its lowest point since January 2022. In security, there is a bit of a pattern with certain topics down in the aftermath of RSA news spikes. (More often than not, the biggest declines we see happen in the aftermath of big spikes – and things bounce back at least a bit in subsequent months.)
So What, Now What? It’s pretty clear AI is having a watershed moment. Related conversations are all on the rise, as topics like Generative AI, which essentially didn’t exist four years ago (16 mentions in May 2019) are ranking near the top of our analysis (#15 in May 2019, up from #223 in May 2022). Anything and everything seems to be AI-linked these days, fueling conversation gains for same (Accelerated Computing, Gig Economy) and declines for others (Quantum Computing) as the discussion shifts. So much is up in the air with this technology that even though watershed moments are recognized in hindsight, I think I’m going to go ahead and call this one now.
I’m laughing a little as I write this conclusion because last month’s take – that “AI is the white-hot center of the technology world right now” – seemed like hyperbole at the time. But it may have been a gross understatement. AI is driving the world to a tipping point, though it’s unclear which way the world will tip. Queue Morpheus quote: “We don’t know who struck first, us or them. But we do know it was us that scorched the sky.” (From Warner Brothers’ The Matrix).
Questions? Comments? See a topic we are not tracking? Please share below, and we will address in future installments.