Enterprise hits and misses – omni-channels near holiday stress test, digital gets critiqued


This week: it’s omni-channel or bust as holiday season kicks in. Plus: do digital with a capital D – or don’t bother. Dreamforce gets a wrap, and you get your weekly whiffs.

Cheerful Chubby Man
Lead story – Omni-channel or bust for Kohl’s, Macy’s and JC Penney – retail analysis
by Stuart Lauchlan

MyPOV: With the all-important holiday season kicking in, Stuart issued a flurry of good news/bad news retails missives. Start with Kohl’s, an early advocate of “stores are still cool” in Getting personal to drive omni-channel traffic at Kohl’s. Stuart likes Kohn’s online/store mix, and the digital numbers aren’t shabby, but as Stuart warns:

The harsh reality remains that the chain is only turning in just-over-flat growth year-on-year.

A feel-a-tad-better story comes by way of JC Penney CEO – the need for speed in omni-channel retail. After some choppy waters it appears programs like Buy Online, Pickup In-Store are rolling. If that sounds trivial, consider this CEO braggadocio: “Over $1 billion of inventory is exposed to dot com customers from all 874 stores.” Not so trivial. Stuart:

Signs of life at JC Penney at just the right time.

Then we have Macy’s, which gave our resident fashion maven (that would be Stuart) the shopping blues during a recent in-store visit in San Francisco (Macy’s drills down on digital, but the in-store basics are still broken). No doubt that added vinegar to this Lauchlan smackdown:

Macy’s has digital religion, but it could be too late. Meanwhile the in-store customer experience sucks.

Yep, that’s another tell-us-how-you-really-feel award for your collection.

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

  • Ill-advised AI could be as bad as poor outsourcing, says Genpact CEOChris unfurls another sharp AI take, this time with a warning from the services side, which involves inscrutable AI black boxes. Oh, and this timely reminder for customers who may be getting hit with an AI marketing overdose right about now: “All should ensure that they don’t rush in with neither a strategic plan nor a real problem to solve.”
  • APIs, the indispensable glue for digital enterprise strategies – Kurt on why digital needs the right plumbing, and the right way to expose digital assets. Ergo: “Organizations that treat APIs as a fundamental part of their digital business strategies will have a competitive advantage.”

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Dreamforce 2017 is a wrap, and diginomica published 30+ Dreamforce ’17 stories for your perusal. Den has already curated a tasty mix of diginomica Dreamforce analysis and use cases. But we had a few late breaking stories I’ll serve up here:

More vendor analysis:

  • ServiceMax and GE a year on – the ServiceMax view – Den made the jaunt to Maximize ’17 to get a closer view on “settling in” from both sides of the acquisition. The ServiceMax angle: customers still deriving value – from big fish to startups with fish to fry. Den flipped the narrative in ServiceMax and GE Digital a year on – the GE view.
  • SAP’s IIoT and blockchain ambitions – a heady mix but will it blend? – SAP TechEd Barcelona is in the books. Den’s got the first missive, a forage under the SAP Leonardo hood. The hard part: “My sense is that SAP needs to find a way to market itself that captures the value (sic) their approach implies, dials back use of some of the buzzwords that infest my email inbox, and gets customers out front talking about what the technologies are delivering.” The good part: “The installed base is certainly listening.” Den and I are on the ground here, along with Dick Hirsch, toughing it out under the Barcelona sun, so you can expect more installments.
  • Is Kubernetes SAP Leonardo’s Mona Lisa? The role of Kubernetes in the SAP Cloud – speaking of Hirsch, check his vintage pre-SAP TechEd deep dive, which anticipated the keynote announcements, and is also notable for Hirsch pulling market intelligence from an SAP employee’s LinkedIn profile bio update. “Ripped from the headlines” turns into “ripped from your profile.”

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon’s grab bag – Den put Uber’s London setback in the troubling context of a race to the bottom of human labor outlay in The Uber London employment decision – implications for contingent and gig labor. He also foolishly bravely went beyond baby and cat pictures in a doomed Quixotic attempt to extract a tiny shred of B2B value from Facebook advertising in Facebook is useless for B2B, sends ads to Russians.

Might as well complete the Howlett-on-edge trifecta with Skynet is here. We just don’t know it, which is less about Terminator (darn!) and more a response to HfS Research’s latest AI and automation data. Let’s wrap this puppy with Chris’ Global tech is world’s third-largest economy, but is it a healthy one? Bonus: action steps for companies that want to be the crusher and not the crushee are assessed.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Lead story – Raising the Bar – for clouds, renewables and digital – Part 3 by Vinnie Mirchandani

myPOV: Mirchandani and I have some pretty staunch differences in our view on the impact of AI/robotics/automation, though I appreciate we can debate it without (mostly) losing our civility.

However when it comes to Mirchandani’s research on digital innovation, I am always learning more. His latest blog series on the topic is up to part three, and it is shaping up as one of the better reads of this year. Check this excerpt:

For years now, pundits have said technology budgets are being taken over by the CMO. That is their narrow definition of digital – implement a social sentiment analysis technology or roll out a mobile consumer-focused app. Much better payback has come from the product side of the house. It is not unusual to find in auto makers more software engineers who report to product engineering/R&D than do to the CIO.

Mirchandani’s exhortation: pursue digital with a capital D, not a lower case d. Lower case “d” is minor gains in cost/efficiency, or worse yet, cheesy mobile apps that don’t change anything. Capital D digital is tech driving revenue growth and increasing your competitive position. Repeat the mistakes of the mid-90s and “end up with newer technology but not much better processes or efficiencies.”

As for the role of human labor amidst automated/digital processes, that’s another part of the debate, and one we are sure to revisit, hopefully in a way that improves rather than polarizes.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessmanSo when you call your product Dox, things unravel pretty quickly on Twitter.

Yeah, and the use of Doxing as a name for a product connected to a communications device is either diabolically creepy self-destructive or world class ignorant. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during that dumb and dumber white board session. I sure hope some marketers are updating their LinkedIn profiles.

Oh, and one reader did not appreciate me throwing Fast and Furious 8 under the bus to grind an axe about AI overhype:

Maybe Jamie’s got a point. If enterprise AI is as successful as the Fast and Furious franchise, we might see the intelligent enterprise after all:

Nice reminder that the TSA is not only wildly inconvenient, it also kinda sucks at its job. Though I can’t blame TSA for this one, only myself, and the enterprise life I inexplicably willingly signed up for:

Anyone else want to join me as a holiday music whining sourass grouch?

I hope I’m not alone on that one – let me know. See you next time.

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, ServiceMax, New Relic and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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    1. Jon — I’d posit Phil’s video interview with Steve Gillmor is an early peak under SalesForce’s tent into future replatforming based around JavaScript app technologies, not Java apps. Speculating, I wouldn’t be surprised if the camel’s nose were to sniff out blockchain technologies under the tent. After all Bret Taylor heads up Quip (top track record of innovation). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bret_Taylor

      A coda. How will we like our next-gen enterprise web apps built in combination with crypto-commerce standards or just continue on adding security after enterprise apps are developed (as we do today).