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October 22, 2021updated 28 Jan 2022 1:59pm

Filings buzz: Tracking artificial intelligence mentions in the tech sector

By Andrew Hillman

Mentions of artificial intelligence within the filings of companies in the tech sector in Q3 2021 have increased by 172% since 2016, according to the latest analysis from GlobalData.

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. Artificial intelligence 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 artificial intelligence 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 artificial intelligence at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 89% compared to 73% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to artificial intelligence.

Of the 50 biggest employers in the tech sector, Huawei Investment & Holding Co Ltd was the company which referred to artificial intelligence the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 138 artificial intelligence-related sentences in the China-based company's filings - 3.7% of all sentences. NEC Corp mentioned artificial intelligence the second most - the issue was referred to in 3.5% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high artificial intelligence mentions included International Business Machines Corp, Intel Corp and Microsoft Corp.

Across all tech companies the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on artificial intelligence came from Naver Corp. Of the document's 1,314 sentences, 53 (4%) referred to artificial intelligence.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on artificial intelligence 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 artificial intelligence 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 artificial intelligence have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises artificial intelligence mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the second quarter of 2021 was 'smart robots', which made up 70% of all artificial intelligence subtheme mentions by tech companies.

Verdict deals analysis methodology

This analysis considers only announced and completed deals from the GlobalData financial deals database and excludes all terminated and rumoured deals. Country and industry are defined according to the headquarters and dominant industry of the target firm. The term ‘acquisition’ refers to both completed deals and those in the bidding stage.

GlobalData tracks real-time data concerning all merger and acquisition, private equity/venture capital and asset transaction activity around the world from thousands of company websites and other reliable sources.

More in-depth reports and analysis on all reported deals are available for subscribers to GlobalData’s deals database.