You know what’s really not creating a buzz right now in the corporate sphere? Industrial automation. Sure, it’s changing how industries operate, the skills needed and is seen as an essential investment to stay on top of technological changes. However, it seems like businesses aren’t as interested in it as they used to be.

In fact, mentions of industrial automation within the filings of companies in the tech sector fell 11% between the first and second quarters of 2021, according to analysis on data from GlobalData.

That being said, it’s still higher than it used to be. In total, the frequency of sentences related to industrial automation between July 2020 and June 2021 was 32% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When tech companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Industrial automation is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether industrial automation is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of tech companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned industrial automation at least once in filings during the past twelve months – this was 79% compared to 70% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to industrial automation.

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By GlobalData

Of the 50 biggest employers in the tech sector, Emerson Electric Co was the company which referred to industrial automation the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 63 industrial automation-related sentences in the United States-based company's filings – 1.2% of all sentences. Mitsubishi Electric Corp mentioned industrial automation the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.9% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high industrial automation mentions included Atos SE, Infosys Ltd and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd.

Across all tech companies the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on industrial automation came from Delta Electronics Inc. Of the document's 3,597 sentences, 70 (1.9%) referred to industrial automation.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on industrial automation and how important the issue is considered within the tech sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning industrial automation more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into industrial automation have been successes or failures.

In the last quarter, tech companies based in Western Europe were most likely to mention industrial automation with 0.26% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue. In contrast, companies with their headquarters in Canada mentioned industrial automation in just 0.15% of sentences.