Enterprise hits and misses – the ups and downs of digital transformation edition


Jon’s cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn’t) – on diginomica and beyond. This week: digital transformation in the real world, plus a howl for the web we (maybe?) lost. Plus: the Uberization of employment, upbeat views on our robotic companions, and whiffery.

Cheerful Chubby Mandiginomica hit: The ups and downs of digital transformation by Stuart Lauchlan, Derek du Preez, and Phil Wainewright

quotage: “This very even-handed terminology obscures a darker truth, that the older systems of record are no longer fit for purpose in a world where speed of reaction and adaptability to change have become mission-critical attributes of any successful enterprise. Sclerotic, inflexible core systems are holding back established businesses from competing effectively against fleeter-footed rivals.” – Phil

myPOV: The reality of digital transformation across industries is a diginomica calling card, or so I’d like to think. This week was packed with use cases and digital struggles, framed by Phil’s Inflexible enterprise systems face digital nemesis, where he argues – as above – that the typical view of “systems of record” is profoundly lacking given the pace of change provoked by surging new upstarts (Airbnb, Uber, etc). (Bonus points to Phil for leveraging family vacation anecdotes into an enterprise critique).

Stuart, whose digital transformation coverage is a mainstay in these parts, hit from several angles, including The weight of digital transformation for Weight Watchers, which looks at how a legacy provider is playing high stakes digital catchup in one of these “Uberization” scenarios. Jumping industries, Stuart filed Aviva invests in insurance policy for a digital future. Granted, the insurance industry hasn’t been Uberized yet, but it’s on the clock, and Aviva’s one example of the moves ahead.

Readers also liked Stuart’s Digital disruption drives interest rise in BPO at Genpact, which has outsourcing/BPO specialist “re-imagining” itself for the digital world, trying to stay one step ahead of its own clients. And from the digital governance stomp ground, Derek du Preez has a UK update with global ramifications, US Digital Service founder warns against ‘Big IT’ after Bracken’s exit (Mike Bracken’s digital governance approach has influenced many).

Happy children eating applediginomica five: my completely subjective top five stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style – HCM player Cornerstone had some mixed earnings news – Den on the case in Cornerstone OnDemand Q2 FY2015 beats on revenue, misses on income, raises outlook (gist: top line growth fueled by larger deals, predictive analytics is a story to watch). Brian Sommer’s been flying the not-always-friendly skies, to our benefit – here’s his roundup of recent shows (Quick Takes – OneSource Virtual, Sage, Fairsail, NGAHR). Note to self: save “warm nuts” airplane joke for next time.

It might seem odd to include GE in the vendor roundup, but with $4 billion in reported software revenues this year, projected at $6 billion next year, GE’s a software vendor. Den’s piece, GE aspires to be the hub for the industrial internet with Predix Cloud, has the interview highlights from his talk with Harel Kodesh, Vice President, General Manager of Predix at GE Software. Turns out the changes laid down by new Jive CEO Elisa Steele are taking longer than Wall Street would like. As Stuart reports in More of a slow waltz than a jive as Jive’s transition hits speed bumps, internal transformation and changing customer expectations are part of the challenge ahead.

And in SAP Nation 2.0 – fueling the debate about S4/HANA and the SAP economy, Den reviews a pre-release copy of Vinnie Mirchandani’s SAP Nation sequel, including the different customer reactions to S/4HANA (I’ll get views from the SuccessFactors side at next week’s SuccessConnect user event – here’s my preview).

Jon’s grab bag –  Chris Middleton filed a neato use case, Music retailer strikes a chord with smartglasses and AI customer innovation. Being able to shop for a guitar online and hear the live sound of the instrument via smart glasses? Cool. Den wraps our week with Weekend musings: Deconstructing The Software Paradox dilemma – a slice and dice of RedMonk co-founder Stephen O’Grady’s new book. I can’t nutshell this one – you’re gonna have to get your Monday double shot (espresso that is) and read the whole argument. Do it…

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Is the old Internet gone, and should the enterprise care?

quotage: “What links these seemingly dissimilar stories is a very basic fear — the idea that the internet as we knew it, the internet of five or 10 or 20 years ago, is going away as surely as print media, replaced by a new internet that reimagines personal identity as something easily commodified, that plays less on the desire for information or thoughtfulness than it does the desire for a quick jolt of emotion.” – Todd VanDerwerff

myPOV: A couple howls into the web 2.0 wind came out this week – the above, 2015 is the year the old internet finally died, came my way via Esteban Kolsky, who is always on the lookout for feel-good material. VanDerWerff finds a common thread in several disparate news stories, pulling them into a dark thesis: that the mobile web reader has the attention span of a gnat, and that long form web journalism, already under economic duress, has no chance to compete when all social media needs is an emotional hook to lure us into sharing something useless that positions us as cool in the streams of our preening and equally distracted friends.

VanDerwerff cites another potent piece, The Web We Have To Save, a potent treatise from Hossein Derakhshan, who emerged from six years in an Iranian jail to find that the free web bound by community links from blog to blog is almost unrecognizable, crushed by the walled gardens where pictures and lifestreaming discourage traffic to outside blogs. Witty soulfulness is now threatened by a newfound isolation.

I can wax nostalgic with the best of them, but Derakhshan’s case feels different. He paid six years for it: “In the past, the web was powerful and serious enough to land me in jail. Today it feels like little more than entertainment. So much that even Iran doesn’t take some — Instagram, for instance — serious enough to block.”

I get the despair these guys feel over the social herd running roughshod over piercing/thoughtful discourse, I have played those blues. But these are howls in the wind against where we are headed. One point VanDerwerff missed: some studies have found mobile consumers read much longer pieces than the sound bites we expected. As someone who writes a long-ass weekly column, I know that you can still reach people, or, to put it better: that you can reach the right people enough of the time. But that’s an enterprise audience, where reaching the right people can justify a business model (yay!). I’m not sure the political blogger has that luxury.

For enterprises, the concerns are different. Enterprises are good at building the distribution channels that gets content out there, social networks included. It’s writing the kickass content that helps solves real world problems that keeps enterprise publishers up at night. Fortunately/tragically, there’s a lot of underfed bloggers longing for visibility. No answers here, but if you feel compelled to write, you write.

Other standouts

Honorable mention

Hello As-a-Service Economy, goodbye Outsourcing, Part I – Nice to read a multi-part blog where you actually look forward to part two.
It Takes More than a Good Name (or including ‘Good’ in your name) – it’s not often we see blogs that really name names – this one did though. Sriracha!
Why Marketing has a Branding Problem – a new post from a new blog that shows potential –  in a crowded topic area with plenty of enterprise cluelessness.
14 Big Opportunities In Enterprise Markets You Should Be Seizing – Nice photo of hipsters about to be crushed by an enterprise they don’t understand. Jokes aside, a useful rundown of the tech in play.
Why Disney and ESPN Will Be OK – a TV shakeout is coming, and if you can sift through the “differentiation” and “aggregation” talk, there’s lessons to be had here.
Xerox: How Privacy Engineering Is Changing Big Data – I’m not sure if “privacy engineering” is ever going to rise the peaks of buzzword notoriety, but designing for privacy is a lot better than Windows 10 creepy design.


Overworked businessmanSo, copyright trolls working on behalf of Columbia Pictures and Adam Sandler’s shitty interesting new film “Pixels” have actually managed to get videos removed that use the word “pixels”. (Man, I hope Sandler’s next film doesn’t have the word “diginomica” in it). And I’m not gonna over-flog this, but last week’s whiff about Windows 10 ballooned into a full-blown article (How Serious are the Windows 10 privacy issues?) The piece kerfluffled some folks, but so far, I’m seeing nothing to assuage my concerns – just fodder I was on the right track, as in: Windows 10 Forced Updates Causing Endless Crash Loops (sounds fun).

There’s one major reason startups are switching their workers from contractors to employees, and it’s not lawsuits isn’t a bad piece, but there’s something amiss with a line like “The real reason companies are switching is that it just makes a better business.” So, if it’s such great business to switch from contractors to employees, why aren’t Uber and Lyft doing it? Later on in the piece, we learn that “Switching to W2 employees can mean a significant increase in costs.  Munchery says that hiring its drivers as employees adds an estimated 20%-30% to cost per hour.

The title is off: if Uber switches workers from contractors to employees – it will be because of a lawsuit. This article says the on-demand business is better for companies with employees, then another article cites Uber’s Desperate Fight to Avoid a Massive Class Action Suit. Somebody is wrong here. It’s great that some on-demand companies no one has heard of are building with employees; let’s see them scale before we start feeling too swell about it.

Officially off-topic

This is not a happy story, but it kinda fits: when a man is gored to death while taking a selfie during the running of the bulls, you know something ain’t right. And it’s hardly unique – Russia had to issue selfie safety guidelines after dozens died – “Don’t take selfies while standing in front of a lion” seems timely.

Getting back to our robot overlords, helpers, a Bizarre Ultra-Efficient Hotel Run by Robots Opens in Japan. With all the robot talk, we overlook the untapped potential of animals, like this service dog who has saved his owner’s life not once, but twice, by calling 911. Then there is the oldest man in Australia (age 113), who spends his days knitting tiny sweaters for penguins injured in oil spills.

I wanted to give you my True Detective finale capsule but I haven’t seen it due to travel fun. Instead I’ll make a couple of futuristic pics: Snowpiercer, which I didn’t like as much as most, is still a visual spectacle. Then there is Ex Machina, which is right up our AI alley. See you next time…

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. ‘myPOV’ 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, Man © Dudarev Mikhail – all from Fotolia.com

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