Enterprise hits and misses – accountants overcome big data denial, CIOs fight for digital trust


This week: accountants move past big data and AI denial, while Walmart and Disney make aggressive moves against rivals. CIOs fight for digital trust after data breaches – and your weekly whiffs.

Cheerful Chubby ManLead story – AI and Big Data – three years in the evolution of accounting by Brian Sommer

When accountants put down their holy parchment spreadsheets to get hooked on AI and big data, you know the buzzwords are finally taking hold. But it wasn’t always so, says Brian Sommer, who shares a three year evolution of accountants’ attitudes to big data, going from denial to resistance to acceptance.

Brian plays the therapist speaker in this transformation, drawing on three years of appearances at the Accounting IS Big Data show for the American Association of Accountants. Brian put those accountants through their paces as only Brian can, but this was one ledger entry they couldn’t wrap their heads around. Finally, it stuck:

Attendees understood that technology change was not going to be deferred. As a result, audience members had to decide how they would alter their careers, curriculums and businesses to optimize their outcomes and futures.

The piece closes with a potent voice-enabled AI interaction from Aera Technology.

The audience spontaneously burst into applause at the completion of his example. And, in that moment, everyone knew this: Big Data, AI, etc. had not only intersected with accounting, but, the technology was no longer a vision but very real and do-able.

Brian isn’t a buzzword pusherman, so we ignore these advancements at our peril. Spreadsheets are better for calculations than commiseration.

Happy children eating appleDiginomica picks – my top two stories on diginomica this week

  • Walmart makes returning stuff a digital differentiator Hold up – Walmart returns with 35 seconds in the store? As Stuart reports, it’s just the latest salvo in Walmart’s ongoing attempt to keep Amazon from running quite so many e-commerce laps around it. Take it from this junior high school track reject – getting lapped stinks. Though Walmart is really doing less to catch Amazon and more to distance itself from other brick and mortars. Also see Stuart’s Self-driving to digital dominance for Domino’s (I’m gonna miss the stoned delivery dudes actually).
  • Diversity and Inclusion – a vital tech-enabled HCM agenda item – Janine on why diversity and inclusion is a board level issue, not just an HR action item. She backs it up with fresh research from Gartner and McKinsey – and looks at how tech can enable more inclusive HR processes, if – big IF – it’s used properly.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. It was an absurd loaded show week. Here’s my three top choices from the mix –

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon’s grab bag – Nice to see the diginomica debut of our new fintech writer, Angelica Mari, in Overcoming hurdles as fintech looms large for the banking industry. Madeline Bennett reports on our Think AI for Public Sector event, with panelists pushing for a better AI in How AI can serve the many, not the few.

Chris, however, was not sunny side up on the UK government’s anticipated AI report in UK AI report – Academic, disconnected, disappointing. His laundry list of UK AI challenges is a tour de force or wake up call, take your pick. The report, evidently, not so much. Jerry asks Can Google’s Project Loon and Tesla’s Solar Grid save Puerto Rico? A reader – who is not a Musk fan – takes issue but I see Puerto Rico as all-hands-on-deck. Musk the conquering hero? No. The concerned citizen? Maybe.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Lead story – Kaspersky news, Equifax security hack push CIOs to trust no one by Linda Tucci, SearchCIO.com

In response to Equifax and Kapersky, Tucci fires off an ominous warning to CIOs:

If software vendors can be infiltrated by foreign agents and if the paragons of digital business can’t get network security right, but industry success continues to depend on digital connectivity, then something has to change. Exactly how our hyper-connected, data-laden, easily corrupted IT systems need to change, however, remains unclear, and the answers won’t be immediate. But one thing is absolutely clear: Infiltration of commercial vendor products for malicious purposes makes the CIO’s job more difficult than it has ever been.

myPOV: There is truth here – and a dash of hyperbole to contend with. As we covered in Avoiding security worst practices, a shocking amount of these breaches come down to companies woefully behind on obvious security measures. Also: it’s not just digital exposure, it’s the terrifying mundanity of older systems that are not adequately patched, and the continued exposure of humans with employee-type access.

The reason CIOs have such at tough job is that avoiding breaches isn’t enough. It’s the partner-to-business/tech-as-revenue-driver priority that makes the security part of the CIOs’ job such a thankless (yet no less important) project.

Two top standouts:

  • Goodbye Gatekeepers – At times maddening, at times brilliant, this is one of Ben Thompson’s finest pieces, weaving the Harvey Weinstein scandal into a rumination on why the power of gatekeepers is lessening in Hollywood and beyond. It would take a entire blog to deconstruct this one, but in the political sphere, the loss of gatekeepers may turn out to be exorbitantly expensive, and not worthy of celebrating as a theory. Still, this one is worth a think.
  • Are you experienced? Customer lessons from Comcast, American Girl, and Irish whiskey – Paul Greenberg puts out the slowest-cooked blogs in enterprise software, but when they come out, there is usually meat on the bone. Greenberg takes on the Quixotic quest of explaining the difference between phrases like “customer experience” and “customer engagement,” both of which have been flogged by marketers to the point where meaning has long since evaporated.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessmanWeinstein’s not a whiff, he’s a tragedy and a criminal, so we move on. More up our alley is:

Oh, and:

Gotta hand it to LinkedIn, they hide those spam settings like Easter eggs deep under the family couch. But if you follow the stench…

As for the Mississippi school district that pulled To Kill a Mockingbird from the curriculum because it “made people uncomfortable” – well, at least it made Aldous Huxley smile.

Oh, and hits/misses regular Clive Boulton sent along a weather whiff:

Radars with attitude problems – blame the machines or the humans, but a bigoted storm radar that is partial to southern geography is a new one on me.

Finally, after receiving perhaps my 50th blockchain PR email grabass of the month, I decided it was time for a different tack. My response:

Once they are live and running on blockchain let me know. I’m not doing anymore blockchain pilot stories. I’ll do stories on live blockchain projects running at scale though, assuming they someday happen.

That sound you hear is crickets chirping as I nudge closer to inbox zero…

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses – in a good or bad way – let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does.

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

Image credit - Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, King Checkmate © mystock88photo - all from Fotolia.com.

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