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November 5, 2021

Filings buzz in retail: 26% decrease in cloud computing mentions in Q2 of 2021

By Patrick Scott

Mentions of cloud computing within the filings of companies in the retail sector fell 26% between the first and second quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to cloud computing between July 2020 and June 2021 was 33% 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. Cloud computing 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.

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To assess whether cloud computing 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 cloud computing at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 49% compared to 23% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to cloud computing.

Of the 50 biggest employers in the retail sector, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was the company which referred to cloud computing the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 240 cloud-related sentences in the China-based company's filings - 3.6% of all sentences. Amazon.com Inc mentioned cloud computing the second most - the issue was referred to in 1.2% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high cloud mentions included JD.com Inc, Lowe's Companies Inc and The Home Depot Inc.

Across all retail companies the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on cloud computing came from JD.com Inc. Of the document's 4,506 sentences, 29 (0.6%) referred to cloud computing.

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

GlobalData also categorises cloud computing mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the second quarter of 2021 was 'software as a service', which made up 83% of all cloud subtheme mentions by retail companies.