Enterprise hits and misses – conversational UIs vs vendor lock-in, algorithms vs privacy


This week – can conversational UIs smash walled gardens? Or will they lead to a new phase of vendor lock-in? Plus: Google and Facebook and their algorithmic foraging. And, of course, your whiffs.

Cheerful Chubby Man
Lead story – Conversational UI and the walled gardens of mobile and social
by Phil Wainewright

The revenge of walled social gardens is a tragicomic thoroughly depressing victory against the promise of the open web. But no so fast, says Phil – conversational UIs put the user in control again:

Conversational computing levels the playing field once again, putting the user at the center of the experience rather than the app or the social network provider.

Yep, conversational UIs are pushing enterprise vendors also – but as Phil posits, are they one more chance for a dominant vendor to achieve lock in?

Already vendors are talking to me about how conversational computing allows them to own the customer’s workflow.

I’m not totally with Phil on this point – it’s hard to imagine a conversational UI accomplishing whatever fix most folks seem to get scrolling through their Facebook Newsfeed, quickly liking this post or commenting on that one, spraying sentiment everywhere.

But it’s a potent ask: Could a savvvy enterprise vendor edge rivals by earning trust as the conversational workflow wrapped around cloud apps? And would that trust, as Phil warns, become a next gen lock-in? Phil:

This doesn’t mean the battle with walled gardens is over. It just means it has moved to a new frontier.

Happy children eating appleDiginomica picks – my top three stories on diginomica this week, by three of our terrific female writers:

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here’s my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

  • Not just bubble wrap – Sealed Air aims to sell knowledge with SAP Hybris – Derek with a nifty use case from SAP Hybris Live Barcelona: “You’re going to get cultural resistance regardless of any sort of technology you go to, because there is going to be legacy processes that are going to be hard to tackle. There’s a lot of legacy knowledge in there, where you need to be very mindful of.”
  • The 2022 Salesforce Economy – 3.3 million new jobs, $859 billion new revenues – As Dreamforce beckons, Stuart parses some eye-popping numbers: “The report find that the Salesforce ecosystem in 2017 is nearly four times bigger than Salesforce itself, while by 2022 it will be more than five times bigger. IDC estimates that in 2017 for every dollar Salesforce will make, partners in the the ecosystem will make $3.67 and will reach $5.18 by 2022.” Yes, I’ll take a grain of salt – but there’s no denying the potency of this ecosystem.
  • Workday Rising 2017 and Workday Then, Now and Tomorrow – Workday makes a major pivot beyond back office transactions into big data platform. Yeah, Brian has a few nits to pick.

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon’s grab bag – Cath continues her notable tech for good series with Technology for Social Good – myAgro seeds a mobile future. It’s about figuring out a counter-intuitive need, and helping West African farmers save for seeds and fertilizer.

Our fintech writer Angelica Mari punctures a few hype balloons in The dazzling world of blockchain is fizzling among financial services organizations. But don’t let the title fool you – Mari lays out some practical use cases as well. Finally, Stuart wraps the week as only he can, with an epically grouchy epic omni-channel deconstruction in O2 – when O is for omni-shambles, not omni-channel.

Turns out click-and-collect isn’t just the holy grail, for 02, it’s mission-freaking-impossible. “There’s a problem with your order” is never a happy start. We go downhill from there. And we get another Lauchlan original: “Patronising as a service.”

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Lead story – Google and Facebook throw their algorithmic weight around – by several smart peeps

myPOV: It was an up and down week for the ambassadors of whatever-the-f@ck-they-want-to-know-about-us, Google and Facebook. The New Stack had the sunnier side, with an intruiging look at project workflow in No Grumpy Humans and Other Site Reliability Engineering Lessons from Google – (Thinking “No grumpy humans” doesn’t apply to all the grumpy Chromebook humans Google thwacked when they kiboshed their YouTube video editor with an unceremonious iron fist of disappearing functionality, but that’s another story).

The Guardian had the less flattering Google piece in Google’s plan to revolutionise cities is a takeover in all but name, which has Google happily taking over your town’s services as a barter with your privacy, where your washer dryer becomes cyber-inventory and your quality of life is maintained in the face of economic turmoil, just a little pinprick for “data extractivism,” which sounds a bit like a colonoscopy for your privacy.

Steve Wilson is thinking along similar lines in The myth of the informed Internet user, but he thinks when users realize the extent of what Facebook knows about them, they’ll reject the “bargain of the social Internet”:

It exposes the lie that people online are fully aware of what they’re getting themselves into.

Fair – but will they opt-out? Very few I’d venture. Perhaps we’ll debate that if I see Mr. Wilson this week. Finally, Buzzfeed reports on How People Inside Facebook Are Reacting To The Company’s Election Crisis. Farewell, dopey idealistic Zuckerberg narrative about Facebook as a global force for enlightenment, delivered on the wings of Internet drones.

No, I take it back – seems that Facebook employees (at least here) feel scapegoated and sorry for themselves. Well, you were in an algo bubble when the future of democracy was being shaped on your platform, so I’d expect a conscience hangover also. I recommend wheat grass.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessmanHow about some Twittter potshots to get us rolling?

Email opportunities, the kind that never knocks (if you get this musical reference, you win the door prize):

“We don’t need no education…”

Not sure if this is a whiff, but I like the “be prepared” spirit.

And with that, I’m out.

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, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

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