Welcome to the 2020 year-in-review edition of Top Conversations in Technology, where we break down which topics are leading, rising and falling to help technology marketers maximize relevance and adapt to changing market dynamics. In this analysis, we focus on variations in news and blog citation volumes for the full year 2020 compared to 2019.
It’s safe to say 2020 was a year no one will forget. COVID-19 hijacked conversations nearly across the board, and technology conversations were no exception. The top five discussions in 2019 were Drones, Artificial Intelligence, Wi-Fi, 5G and E-commerce. Of these topics, only E-commerce remained in the top 5 (holding at #5 for the full year with a 28% increase in volume).
Other top ten topics from 2019 that fell in the rankings included Cybersecurity (from #6 to #10), Robotics (from #9 to #23) and tech-related Compliance discussions (from #10 to #14). The top three topics from 2019 all decreased in citation volume, and were eclipsed by shooting stars like Video Conferencing, Layoffs and Supply Chain. This underscored the fluidity of discussion focus as tech writers shifted to link relevant technologies to the pandemic.
In simpler terms, 2020 was all about the impact of COVID-19. Drones were no longer as important as Video Conferencing, which climbed to #1 in the rankings (from #21) and had 400% higher citation volume. Layoffs jumped to #2 (from #11) with 200% more citations. Supply Chain moved up to #3 (from #7), with discussion threads throughout the year including the great toilet paper crisis in spring, product availability in summer, and “shipageddon” for the holidays.
Looking at year-over-year gains, Contract Tracing showed the biggest jump, climbing from #140 (tied mostly to HIV/AIDS research) to #4 for the full year. Remote Work (from #105 to #27) and Educational Technology (from #46 to #12) also showed massive growth, up 1,194% and 751%, respectively. As the Video Conferencing discussion grew, subtopics Video Conferencing Security/Privacy (+423% to #16) and Video Conferencing Best Practices (+719% to #47) also climbed the charts.
Year-over-year decliners were more modest, suggesting that COVID topics took center stage but didn’t fully displace ongoing technology trends. Only three topics shed more than 50% of their 2019 coverage volume, compared to 28 topics that gained over 100%. Business Services Management, a low-volume discussion, showed the most pronounced drop (from 179 to 52 mentions). Other big decliners include Voice Remote (down 58%), Voice Interface (down 45%), Voice Technology (down 44%), Autonomous Vehicles (down 47%) and Autonomous Cars (down 58%). On the security front, Identity Protection (down 41%), Data Breach (down 40%) and Online Privacy (down 39%) were also in the top 15 losses, presumably as people accepted risk levels due to necessity as they logged in every day from home.
Heading into 2021, we plan to add a few new topics to our tracking and remove a few sub-topics that aren’t very distinctive. So far, 2021 does not seem to be pulling any punches, starting with insurrection, a new president, GameStop hullabaloo, climate change and renewed interest in AI’s impact. It will be fascinating to see how conversations shift in the coming months.