Enterprise hits and misses – performance mismanagement and HR disruption edition


Jon’s cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn’t) – on diginomica and beyond. This week: enterprise HR disruption – exploitation versus empowerment, plus automotive industry upstarts, and, as always, some choice whiffs.

Cheerful Chubby Mandiginomica hit: Enterprise work disruptions by Janine Milne and Cath Everett

quotage: “One of the big questions facing the emerging digital economy with its progressive shift to online skills marketplaces is just how to get the balance right between empowering workers and exploiting them.” – Cath Everett

myPOV: Two provocative HR pieces for your perusal. Everett’s piece, Will the sharing economy strike the right legal balance between empowering and exploiting workers? reports on Rachel Botsman’s keynote speech at HR Tech Europe, where Botsman laid out the debate between empowerment and exploitation from online skills marketplaces and Uber-like services. While I’m deeply skeptical of the future such services are providing workers (As Uber critic Andrew Keen put it, ‘do you want your kids to grow up to be Uber drivers’), I appreciated Everett’s balance of innovation and worker’s rights.

Janine Milne takes up the HR issue from inside the enterprise, detailing Heidi Spirgi’s critique of existing performance management solutions while pondering next-gen possibilities in Performance management – HR’s most hated tool?

Happy children eating applediginomica four: my completely subjective “top four” stories on diginomica this week (though I’m cheating with a few “pairs” this week)

Vendor analysis, diginomica style – Phil filed a pair of very interesting Salesforce-related pieces, one from the outside, with Zoho’s CEO bringing the vendor smack (Zoho CEO: cloud’s in a bubble, Salesforce is the new Siebel – Den also posted a Zoho story, Zoho Expense – the glue that will bind users to Zoho). In Salesforce-native vendor speaks out on cloud integration, Phil delves into the roots of the upcoming FinancialForce.com “Frankencloud” campaign, which goes back to the advantages FinancialForce.com cites with its single data model on Salesforce’s AppExchange platform.

In Dear Sage – stop dinging me with price increases on dead product, Den analyzes a complex situation of a customer speaking out on a price increase for a sunsetted product. Given the user is writing for a competitor (diginomica partner Acumatica), it’s a complicated story. I know you’re surprised to hear that Den wades in and takes a position. Den, not what you’d call a spreadsheet fanboy,  also updated on Tidemark’s fight against spreadsheet errors (Tidemark tilts at spreadsheet hell with Office app). Oh, and Den’s also got the deets on the Workday 24 release. Finally, Brian Sommer posted a meaty review of Infor’s recent analyst day in The new chapter for Infor.

Jon’s grab bag – Den pokes a few holes in analysis of Stack Overflow developer data in London is the center of the known universe, not San Francisco – sort of, while raising more questions about how well enterprises are content with the onslaught of structured and unstructured data (not so well at all, methinks). Diginomica has chronicled the BBC’s digital struggles in the past; Derek returns to the scene of that carnage to ruminate on the BBC’s latest digital ambitions in The BBC will become an “internet first” broadcaster, claims CTO. I’ll leave it to Stuart to wrap our week with MyDogBuddy goes walkies with €1.9 million expansion funding, a digital service that, unlike dead dotcoms, fills an obvious void (bonus: we get an adorable pic of Stuart’s fido).

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer The Innovation-Driven Disruption of the Automotive Value Chain (Part 1) – by Evangelos Simoudis

quotage: “It is becoming evident that disruption in the automotive value chain has started and can soon reach a tipping point, particularly as the electric-autonomous-connected car becomes a reality.  Automotive companies are starting to re-think how they must innovate in order to avoid being disrupted.”

myPOV: In a long-form tour-de-force that must have involved the consumption of an entire pot of coffee, fellow Enterprise Irregular Evangelos Simoudis pushes out a comprehensive piece on automotive industry disruption, looking at the four most disruptive players (Zipcar, Uber, Google, and Tesla), the six factors driving the disruption, how the incumbent players are responding, which companies are investing the most in R&D, and who is doing what in Silicon Valley (whew!). Only issue: what has Simoudis saved for part two? Bonus: last week, Larry Dignan posted a worthwhile piece on Ford CEO Mark Fields (Ford CEO Fields on autonomous cars, big data, Tesla).

  • Doug Henschen’s last Information Week piece, on to Constellation – Well, I don’t know if it’s technically his last, but it could well be the last one I feature in this column (Tableau 9.0 Keeps Focus On End-User Productivity). This week Constellation Research announced the successful wooing of Doug Henschen. As I told Ray Wang on the phone, this is a terrific hire by Constellation, but I’m not sure it’s good for tech reporting. That’s not Constellation’s fault, of course, Henschen was simply one of the last enterprise reporting greats, a breed that is vanishing for several reasons that are not worth flogging here. Just means the rest of us will have to do more heavy lifting. I’m not going to roll out the tired “thanks for all the fish” mantra because Wang assures me Henschen will be up to his same old blogging tricks at Constellation.
  • DataSift Board Member Mark Suster on Twitter firehose shutdown – Continuing with the Twitter/DataSift topic, Suster sounded off in Can You Build a Business on Somebody’s Else’s Platform? After clearing up some misconceptions (and pointing out DataSift has a very attractive data partnership with Facebook that makes losing the Twitter access a heck of a lot easier, Suster gets into the most interesting issue – the title of his post. One commenter said, “I think it is still possible to build successful businesses using someone else’s platform as long as the platform has a clear business model.” I’d add: as long as you hedge your bets and support multiple platforms – which is the gist of Suster’s hysteria-clearing post.
  • Holger Mueller rides again (with AWS and Workday) – I know what you’re thinking, too much Constellation, but Mueller was on point this week, and I pick ’em as I see ’em. On AWS:  Event Report – AWS pushes the platform with Analytics and Storage [From the Fences] and on Workday: Workday 24 – ‘True’ Analytics, a Vertical and more – now needs customer proof points.

Honorable mention

The Rise Of The Outsiders: This Is Not Your Father’s IT Industry – One of the week’s strongest pieces.
The Customer Process: The Five Things You Need to Know Now – Solid guest post on Esteban Kolsky’s blog. I’d insert a snarky joke about guest authors raising the bar, but Mr. Kolsky’s been carrying the water as well. Ah well.
Diving into Data Lakes – Handy hype-aware overview on how data lakes purport to solve/eliminate some of the industry’s data cleansing chores, and the players involved.
It’s the data plan, stupid: The dark side of digital transformation – Not everyone is drinking the DT Kool-Aid. “Fluffy bun digital marketing” – wish I’d thought of that. I Googled “fluffy buns”, so I’ll be ready next time.
The Irrelevance Of Open Sourcing Windows – winner of my occasional “concise but effective” blog title award.


Overworked businessmanFor your whiffs appetizer, this loser patent troll finally got its butt kicked in court for trying to turn a failed “cassettes-by-mail” business from the 90s into a patent on podcasting. The whiff isn’t the court ruling of course – the whiff is choosing to flush your life down the toilet tying up the courts in meaningless litigation. I’d rather try to sell homemade macrame on the street corner than work for these schmuckers.

While I’m grouching, have I mentioned I’m sick of well-meaning articles like How Google Judges Quality and What You Should Do About It. “Google only ranks your site if it has high-quality content” – I call BULLPUCKY. Your honor, may I present, Yahoo Answers. The prosecution rests. To be fair to this author, there is a helpful list of black hat tactics that Google does NOT like and we all should avoid. But the fact remains: Google likes massive content aggregators, especially those that carry loads of Google Ads (why hello, eHow). Quality is good. Quality-always-wins is a mantra for the obscure.

And then there is BuzzFeed, which got itself into a pickle this week for deleting (and finally restoring) a news story. Confessional: I have a grudging respect for BuzzFeed’s business model. And I’m not sure that pulling a news story is worthy of scandal status. But what didn’t impress me was the convoluted “happy talk” explanation offered by the BuzzFeed Life editors (in fairness, it was an internal email, but of the aspartame kind that made me glad I don’t work for BuzzFeed).

Then, a few days later, without adequate explanation that I can find, the post was re-instated (for the record, the post, which slammed a recent Dove advertising campaign, is kickass, and the decision to re-instate is the right one). But with the re-instatement, the humiliation of the internal pretzel logic email only grows, with the editors unable to type a very simple sentence: “We’re afraid of pissing off an (native) advertiser who puts food on your table, got it?

No, I can’t prove that’s the reason for the pull. But the fact it wasn’t even mentioned at all is a bigass elephant in the room of baffling excuses. Truth be told diginomica is not immune to these issues – any commercial media property must contend with this stuff in some form. To this point, the only few pieces I know of we’ve pulled had to do with information that was pulled back from the public domain by the vendor or interview subject. If we ever do come to this type of crossroads, hopefully we can leave out the artificial sweetener and give it to you straight. We all have to get paid, not sure why we have to run from that all the time.

Update: the author (unsurprisingly) has quit. More aspartame.

Officially off-topic

Speaking of whiffs, after coming so close to a true Twin Peaks reunion, it would be a darn shame if Showtime backed off due to a contractual dispute with David Lynch. Just pay the guy, and let us find out if this is a turd or a gem, uncontaminated by Lynch’s absence.

At first, I thought this particular story was science fiction, but it does seem accurate that a man with a deteriorating health condition is set to be the first attempt at a human head transplant. Yikes!!!

On the happy side/dark side of innovation this week, I give you drones: yes, drones might be able to put a dent in rhino poaching before all these ginormous beauties are extinct, but drones are also likely to bring you a scary/unwelcome form of hovering intrusive advertising.

I forgot to share this last week, but I Followed My Stolen iPhone Across The World, Became A Celebrity In China, And Found A Friend For Life is one of the most remarkable Internet adventures I’ve ever read, and it has a happy ending to boot. A testament to, dare I say it, the power of social. But moreso, a story of blind trust paying off. If only it always did. OK, Game of Thrones time. Till next week.

Which #ensw pieces of merit did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. ìmyPOVî is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credits: Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock (keyword search: loser or winner) – all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: Infor. Workday, SAP, FinancialForce.com and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.