Welcome to the September 2023 edition of Top Conversations in Technology, where we break down which topics are leading, rising and falling each month. Our monthly analysis is designed to help technology marketers maximize their relevance and adapt to changing market dynamics. This month’s data focuses on variations in news and blog citation volumes month-over-month (versus August 2023) and year-over-year (versus September 2022).
The Fall This Fall: September gave us the decline in conversation volumes we expected in the summer but didn’t get. After a gangbuster August that showed surprising increases across most topics, nearly three-quarters of topics declined in conversation volume in September, and those that didn’t posted smaller gains. Artificial Intelligence moved back up to the #1 spot despite a 3% drop in volume, displacing #2 Smartphone, which posted a bigger decline (down 35%). And so the theme begins…
Several other topics that posted massive gains in August registered similarly impressive declines in September – including #35 Application Development (down 70%), #95 Security Automation (down 80%), #127 ERP (down 69%) and #153 Passkey (down 82%). This is due to a commonly known analytics phenomenon I like to call “line goes up, line goes down.”
The Top 10: There were some notable rank shifts in September’s top 10, though the list overall was only marginally impacted. Artificial Intelligence moved back into #1 after one month at #3. Smartphones dropped to #2, ending its brief return to the top of the charts. #3 Bitcoin (up 26%) and #4 Cryptocurrencies (down 7%) rebounded from their lull (up from #8 and #6, respectively) as the FTX/Sam Bankman Fried trial grabbed headlines. Of note: Bitcoin was the only top 10 topic to post an increase in citation volume in September.
As Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies moved up, #5 Drones (down 21%) and #6 Supply Chain (down 36%) each dropped one spot in the rankings while #7 Blockchain (down 5%) moved back into the top 10 (from #13). #8 E-Commerce (down 65%) fell the furthest in rank (down from #2), while #9 Cybersecurity (down 31%) held position and #10 Wi-Fi (down 45%) fell from #7. Tech-related Compliance discussions, which ranked #10 in August, slipped to #11 (down 46%), and like so many other topics, erased most of the previous month’s gain.
What’s Climbing: Only 27% of topics (67) posted gains from August to September. Only seven of those topics ranked in the top 75. Five topics registered triple-digit gains, but all but one ranked over 200, including:
- #222 Thermal Monitoring (up 446%)
- #115 Domain Name System (up 398%)
- #247 Threat Telemetry (up 271%)
- #208 Software Defined Storage (up 227%)
- #210 Attention Model (up 100%)
What’s interesting about this list is that all these topics reversed losses posted from July to August except one: Attention Model. This AI sup-topic posted its second month of gains and continued its upward linear trend seen throughout this year. Similarly, #224 Humane Technology (up 25% in September, following a 152% gain in August) and #238 Emotional AI (up 69%, following a 9% gain in August) both posted increases thanks to ongoing interest in the impact of AI on society.
Only three topics in the top 75 posted two consecutive months of gains: #3 Bitcoin (up 20%), #64 Smart Cities (up 4%) and #28 Private Equity (up 2%). Other topics showing notable two-month streaks included #246 Adversary Detection (up 36%), #227 Threat Intelligence Platform (up 22%), #194 Platform Engineering (up 18%) and #136 Social Commerce (up 16%).
What’s Falling: Declines were noteworthy across the topic set, with 180 topics posting declines, and 42 topics shedding 50% or more of their August mention volume. Additionally, 36 topics posted their second consecutive month of declines, including three high-ranking topics: #15 5G (down 4%), #16 Semiconductors (down 13%) and #19 Misinformation (down 19%).
The topics with the most sizable drops month-to-month included #152 Passkey (down 82%), #231 Cybersecurity Staffing/Burnout (down 80%) and #95 Security Automation (down 80%). Hard to miss the security undertones there. Sizeable losses were also recorded for #219 Growth Hacking (down 73%), #239 Asynchronous Video (down 73%) and #35 Application Development (down 70%). These topics reversed traction gained in the August surge, so we’ll watch to see if this is a trend or an ebb-and-flow.
So What, Now What? With the emergence of new technologies, we’ve seen the emergence of net-new conversations. Most prominently, there were only nine mentions of Generative AI in September 2019, and now it ranks #12. Web3 registered 178 stories in September 2019 and ranked #207, versus 62K and #25 in September 2023. Passkey, one of the more volatile topics we’ve seen this year, registered 159 stories and ranked #224 in September 2019, compared to now when it ranks #153 with over 2K stories. And with Google talking about adopting the technology, the discussion is likely to grow. This rapid evolution begs the question: What’s the next new topic to gain favor? And what’s so 2019 it’s not worth mentioning anymore? Maybe AI can tell us.
Questions? Comments? See a topic we are not tracking? Please share below, and we will address in future installments.