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May 24, 2022

Filings buzz in retail: 17% decrease in big data mentions in Q4 of 2021

We've analysed companies' annual reports and other filings to see which key issues are receiving the most attention.

By Data Journalism Team

Mentions of big data within the filings of companies in the retail sector fell 17% between the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to big data during 2021 was 98% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When retail 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. Big data 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 big data is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of retail companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned big data at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 56% compared to 39% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to big data.

Of the 10 biggest employers in the retail sector, Amazon was the company which referred to big data the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 61 big data-related sentences in the United States-based company's filings - 1.2% of all sentences. JD mentioned big data the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.8% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high big data mentions included Magnit, Kroger and Home Depot.

Across all retail companies the filing published in the fourth quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on big data came from Shoprite. Of the document's 1,173 sentences, eight (0.7%) referred to big data.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on big data and how important the issue is considered within the retail sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning big data 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 big data have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises big data mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 'data analytics', which made up 70% of all big data subtheme mentions by retail companies.

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