What CEOs talked about during the pandemic

The second quarter of 2020 was like no other. A record rise in unemployment, widespread layoffs, empty offices, and entire industries like travel or sports & entertainment losing the majority of their business within weeks. At the same time governments around the world provided a record $10 trillion in economic stimulus, while the value of Gold as well as the Nasdaq climbed to new all-time highs.

Nasdaq’s record levels, which are a surprise to many, are driven by the fact that technology has taken center stage during the pandemic. -> see also the related analysis: 5 themes that dominated tech and IoT conferences in Q2 2020 ).

IoT Analytics’ latest publication (available to download for corporate subscription clients), titled “ IT & IoT Trends – Mid 2020 update ”  looks one layer deeper and analyzes the importance of different digital and tech topics during and after the pandemic.

One of the analyses is a “keyword-based” visualization of the earnings transcripts of 3,000 US-listed companies (Q2 2020 vs. Q4 2019). It provides an indication of which technology topics CEOs prioritized during the pandemic.

The chart visualizes the keyword importance and growth during the pandemic:

X-axis: Keyword importance (i.e. how often have keywords been mentioned in Q2). The further out on the x-axis, the more often the topic has been mentioned all together.

Y-axis: Keyword growth (i.e. what is the increase or decrease Q2/2020 vs. Q4/2019, indexed to 100). A number >100 on the Y-axis indicates the topic has grown importance, a number <100 indicates the topic has lost in importance.

These were some of the hottest topics discussed by CEOs:

Priority #1: Remote work

Mention of remote work topics (e.g., videoconferencing, remote monitoring as well as remote healthcare / telehealth) jumped by more than 10x compared to pre COVID-19 levels. 

Sample CEO quote from Q2:

“Remote monitoring and service delivery, including condition-based maintenance, will significantly increase. These types of solutions are being deployed in some of our marquee projects today, and the list of ideas and offerings continues to expand.”
George Oliver – CEO, Johnson Controls Inc, May 1, 2020

Priority #2: Supply Chain

Managing the supply chain to maintain customer satisfaction was key during the pandemic. This included having supply chain visibility, ensuring there were no supply disruptions, and focusing on creating overall resiliency. The topic “supply chain” was mentioned 2.8 times more than prior to the pandemic.

Sample CEO quote from Q2:

“Having agile supply chain processes is more important than ever to manage our expenses and cash investments. Therefore, we condensed our sales, inventory and operations planning process from a traditional monthly cycle to a weekly cycle.”