Enterprise hits and misses – AI gets machine washed and automation gets real


This week: the dangers of machine washing as AI heats up and Dreamforce kicks off. Plus: beware data store bragging and automation denial. Your whiffs include LinkedIn getting exposed and Boing Boing getting bonked.

Cheerful Chubby Man

Lead story – Machine washing, data bigging and the DIY money pit of AIby Phil Wainewright

Move over cloud washing, make room for machine washing, where vendors spit polish over-promise their AI offerings. Yes, every vendor wants to have an AI story, but as Phil reports from HR Tech Europe, some of those vendor AI stories have plotholes that make Fast and Furious 8 look like The Godfather.

So what, you may be asking, is “data bigging”? That’s where vendors try to impress you with… yeah, the size of their data store. Who knew learning could be so deep? Don’t say Phil didn’t warn you: “vendors are ‘bigging up’ the volume of data they have available to feed into their machine learning models.” I’m with Phil:  the immaturity of AI means HR pros – and other lines of business for that matter – have more immediate threat/opportunities to contend with.

Even without the aid of AI, much of the routine administrative work traditionally performed by HR teams is being eliminated by the roll-out of self-service automation along with standardized processes and datasets. At the same time, all this digital transformation is augmenting their ability to take up more value-added advisory and analytics roles.

To that extent, the robots are already taking over HR, replacing some jobs but enabling others. It is a disruptive shift that requires retraining and careful change management for those displaced.


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

Vendor analysis, diginomica style – wall-to-wall Dreamforce coverage begins:

Diginomica’s intrepid Dreamforce team is partying their buttz off filing non-stop Dreamforce stories and analysis. I’ll save the full rundown for next week, but as of this writing, we have 20+ Dreamforce 2017 stories and counting. Here’s my four picks to get you started:

A few more vendor picks:

Jon’s grab bag – U.S. tech companies went kicking and screaming into the halls of Congress; Stuart’s got the analytical poker burning as well (Social media giants need to up their game as US Senate grills them). Stuart easily nabs headline of the week dap for this doozey: NFL blame games and Nazi pizzas put a sour topping on Papa John’s digital plans (as long as we don’t start getting search visits for Nazi pizzas that is).

Speaking of SEO, Barb is on top of the verbal twist in How is voice search changing your SEO strategy? Jessica filed another laudable use case in Age UK combats loneliness epidemic among older people with Twilio. And if you haven’t had your fill of snarky take downs, you may want to check round two of my  Ludicrous press release awards – “have you leveraged your blockchain?” edition.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Lead story –  The State of Automation and AI Study 2017: 400 operations leaders air the real deal – by Phil Fersht of HfS Research

myPOV: Yeah, this came out last week, but it needed more ventilation than I had space. Gist: Phil Fersht and the snarky resourceful crew at HfS decided to puncture a few AI hype ballooons with – get this, actual enterprise data on adoption. True AI may be futuristic, but automation is now. Fersht:

What’s clear is that enterprises are frantically evaluating their talent (81%) and looking to collapse these silos in the middle/back offices to improve their customer experiences. And they see AI, Machine Learning, and process automation as the levers to achieve this.

Yep, a whopping 81 percent of operations leaders are feeling the proverbial heat to cut their dependence on mid/higher skilled labor:

[They view] AI and Machine Learning as increasingly important or even mission-critical directives to drive this.

The full report is for subscribers only, but there is some meat in the blog post, including:

  • Satisfaction of initial automation deployments is mixed – Only a little over half the enterprises (58%) that have gone down the RPA path are satisfied with the level of business value and cost savings from their implementations thus far.
  • Despite the growing pains, RPA is starting to be used effectively in this era of innovation and the current satisfaction results reflect this.

Companies should not allow themselves to be paralyzed by the AI/automation hype deluge. Data like this helps. If you’re impatient about the half-assed  self-serving loose AI definitions being tossed around, you’ll dig this week’s HfS follow-up, Enterprise Automation and AI will reach $10 billion in 2018 to engineer the OneOffice.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessmanSo as Stuart alluded to, it’s kind of a bummer when neo-Nazis dig your anchovies (Papa John’s condemns white supremacy after praise from neo-Nazi site).

As for Boing Boing’s Why you should drop Dropbox in favor of SpiderOak, someday I hope to write my rebuttal, why you shouldn’t rush to drop a file storing service you trust because Boing Boing has a tag sale going on in their freaking store.

Oh, and remember how I gave Ray Wang a wee roasting last week for trotting out the fireside chat fumigator “Infinite Ambient Orchestration”? Well, he was good enough to define Infinite Ambient Orchestration this week, in case you want to trot it out at your next enterprise social.

And did anyone else notice LinkedIn’s new forkload networking option?

Chirag, I look forward to connecting with you and 1,000+ of your closest associates shortly.

And to think it was only last April that The founder of LinkedIn says too many of us are using the site all wrong. As per Mr. Reid Hoffman:

LinkedIn is a closed network, and for a very simple reason: For the network to have value as an introduction tool, the connections need to have meaning. It’s up to you to vet each and every request so that if someone comes to you and says, ‘Would you introduce me?’ you’re in a position to evaluate whether the connection would be of mutual benefit.”

Sorry, Mr. Hoffman, but it’s my sardonic pleasure to break the news to you: you’re using the site you created all wrong. Next time, try the forklift button. C’mon in Mr. Hoffman, the water’s warm, the spammers have a way of heating it up.

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, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com.

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