All blog writers feel a little bit like Nostradamus this time of year. What’s going to happen in 2023 – and what does it mean to industry XYZ? 

I recently sat down to write one of these myself for the PR and communications industry. But then I thought: Maybe it would be a good idea to do a bit of research into what luminaries on the internet think?

Instead, I went down a rabbit hole. And I fell far! 

Media articles forecasting 2023‘s potential trends are wild, and there are a lot of them. After reviewing some of them, the question I had is: What do they say? 

To answer that question we evaluated 150 news articles that discuss trends in business, communications, and world events, and found startling similarities between some of these lists – so much so that we charted the top themes identified across more than 40 publications and analyst organizations. These sources include ForbesThe EconomistGartnerForresterCoinTelegraph, and Venturebeat

Fullintel’s analysis identified more than 110 individual trends, ranging from the obscure to the sensational, such as VentureBeat’s reporting of Forrester’s trend report identifying that C-Level executives will likely be fired for remote employee monitoring

Other trends found smaller changes in consumer behavior, such as Forbes, which noted an increase in cross-border online shopping.

Most of these trends are industry-specific, narrow looks on hot and evolving topics in B2B marketing or commodities. Still, when abstracted by the theme discussed, the trends depicted tell an interesting story.

Top Themes From 2023’s Trend-Related Articles:

Rank Trend % Share of Theme
1st Sustainability 6.94%
2nd Digital security 5.56%
3rd AI 4.63%
4th Metaverse 4.17%
5th Supply chain challenges / security 3.70%
Tied for 6th Recession Risk 3.24%
Tied for 6th Talent War 3.24%
7th Automation 2.78%
8th Growth personal tech and software usage 2.31%
Tied for 9th Electric vehicle sales growth 1.85%
Tied for 9th Growth of Digital – Business 1.85%
Tied for 9th Increased customer expectations 1.85%
Tied for 10th Inflation 1.39%
Tied for 10th Use of Data Increases 1.39%
Tied for 10th Employee Skills Development & Productivity a Focus 1.39%
Tied for 10th ESG Reporting 1.39%
All Others Other 52.31%
Source: Fullintel Nov. 2022

In the above chart, we identified the top 10 themes along with an index on the frequency of individual themes compared to all themes identified. The top three accounted for between four percent and seven percent of all themes mentioned. 

When examined from this broad perspective, it looks like throwing spaghetti against the wall. Of the 110 themes, 52 percent were only mentioned once or twice in all articles reviewed.

However, the top three themes are interesting for a few reasons:

1. Sustainability: Trends articles mentioned sustainability broadly, not just in an environmental sense, but also in terms of business stability. Sustainability as a trend in these articles speaks to reducing carbon emissions and water usage, streamlining waste management, and lowering energy and real estate costs as part of all the above.

Writers noted the rising costs of energy in Europe, of gas in North America, and consumer attitudes toward environmentalism being the lead drivers of the environmental sustainability trend.

2. Digital security: With hacking on the rise, many business and technology articles focused on data protection and digital security management. No-code or low-code platforms were mentioned, along with the need to keep end users and their work secure.

With hacking and data breaches occurring almost daily across all business verticals – along with other financial crimes – how companies protect consumer data at home, in the office, and on mobile devices is clearly an important issue.

3. AI: Artificial intelligence has been labeled by some as a cure-all for business. Have too much data? Here’s some AI. Too little data? Here’s another AI. The trends, however, imply that businesses are more rational and less fanciful about how AI can and should be used, with most articles mentioning implementation rather than plug-and-play efforts. Articles discussing AI aren’t nebulous – they are specific about very narrow use cases that have been shown to work.

IT World Canada, for one, identified generative AI as a trend, saying that semi-supervised machine learning can be used for more than just generating images: “It could help businesses with predictive maintenance or improving cybersecurity analytics, or it could help generate new ideas for drugs or assist in quality analysis and medical diagnoses,” says IT World Canada’s article.

Of course, generative AI (specifically generative adversarial networks, or GANs)  is also the main tool used in deepfake videos and photos, illustrating that every trend can have good and bad implications.

Similarities across themes and outlets

Reading through these articles and seeing AI, sustainability, and the metaverse pop up so often triggered my editor’s cap: Are these trends just being copied from somewhere else? Are these writers or influencers simply parroting each other’s ideas?

To answer that I looked at how often articles were shared and when they were published. I’m not saying there is plagiarism going on, but as Lil’ Wayne says: “It ain’t biting, it’s called rewriting.” 

I won’t begrudge a blog writer for finding the same themes as I did and bringing them into their work. That said, Gartner’s and The Economist’s posts were broadly shared, Forbes which featured several articles in our analysis underperformed in comparison.

Outlet Avg Shares Per Article
Gartner 750+
The Economist 500+
CoinTelegraph 250+
ZDNET 150+
Forbes 100+
Source: BuzzSumo

With Gartner’s article on “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2023” being published on Nov. 21, and The Economist’s three articles coming out between Nov. 15 and Nov. 18,  seeing some crossover between these topics isn’t a huge surprise. Many articles cited Gartner, Forrester, and The Economist on their own as well – which isn’t all that surprising. These are the leading thought leaders for business management, after all. 

Ultimately, trends are what you make of them. But when you see the same trend over and over again, especially from top-shelf news outlets, there’s likely some truth to them.

Next week, I’ll finally get around to writing that PR and communications trends article I mentioned up top. But for now,  if this type of analysis gets you excited, reach out! I’d love to hear about other areas you want a deep dive into. 

If you need help with the measurement side, well, you know who to call. Get in touch with Fullintel, and put more numbers behind your social awareness programs!