diginomica 2014 - Stuart's choice

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan December 30, 2014
One last dose of nostalgia from 2014 from Stuart Lauchlan


10 -  Plus ca change etc

Stay tuned, it’s going to be close We’re catching up…and we’re catching up..very quickly.

Life after Larry may be coming, but it’s not here yet for Oracle / Just like old times as Ellison lays claim to Salesforce top slot in cloud

Why? Back in September, Larry Ellison announced he was stepping down as CEO of Oracle, news that put a lot of people into a tizzy as they tried to work out the implications for the enterprise software giant. My own view at the time was rather more that nothing very much would visibly change since the triumverate at the top of Oracle has been well-established for many years. But given that Oracle was literally the first tech company that I ever wrote about and having tracked it closely over the past quarter of a century, I had long speculated about the day when Larry would step down. But it’s not here yet, as we saw all too clearly earlier this month when the firm’s latest quarterly conference call was dominated by a familiar voice. Add to that, the reassuring rattling of sabres and all told 2015 is pretty much shaping up to be just like the good old days.

9 - Europe, Cloud et null points

The worrying cloud building around the G-Cloud  / The Eurovision Cloud Contest – douze points for which nation?

I believe we will never have a German cloud. We will have a community of German clouds. It might be easier in other nations, but in Germany it will never be like that.

Why? The European Commission’s nakedly belligerent attitude towards the US tech industry has continued to horrify me through 2014, as can be seen in stories such as Viviane Reding’s ‘play by my rules’ warning to the US tech industry. While I can appreciate the notion of creating a cloud-conducive European market, the barely concealed threats and the shrill demands for protectionist regulatory regimes - boosted by post-Snowden paranoia - does little to inspire confidence.

A gathering of three national cloud champions earlier this month illustrated the futility of trying to enforce standardization across Europe as representatives of the UK, Dutch and German governments met up at a London conference. What emerged quickly was how far ahead the UK is when it comes to public sector cloud computing, even if I did have some concerns about a perceived lack of direction behind the G-Cloud program earlier this year. I have no regrets at all about publishing that article and am hugely encouraged to see an uptick in activity since then.

8 - Digital heresy

Please stop innovating – digital heresy from Accenture

The thing I’ve found over the past 7 or 8 months now that I’m in Europe is how often I’ve heard the word innovate. I don’t think I remember hearing that word back in Silicon Valley. I don’t think it was what entrepreneurs do. It might have been a by-product, but I don’t think most of us were trying to innovate. Talking about innovation sounds to me like a a defensive stance. You’ve already lost and you’re now responding to something else.

Why? This was a story that attracted a lot of attention with its eye-catching plea from one of Accenture’s top digital executives. But what was said during the presentation at the excellent Chief Digital Officer’s Summit in London was a much-needed dose of purgative common sense, even if it caused a ripple or two of anxiety among the attending CDOs as cherished beliefs were questioned.

7 - An Über car crash of brand trashing

Uber’s $1 million dollar revenge on the media overshadows Spotify tie-up  / Uber crisis gets uber-worse with limp social media ‘apology’  / Uber’s Sydney hostage crisis price rises – when economics meets bad taste 

It’s hard to imagine a company with a more diverse leadership team threatening to invade the privacy of a journalist and her family; running a promotion in France that promises to pair Uber riders with “hot chicks”; or turning on female passengers who have accused drivers of assault or bad behavior, not to mention having the CEO call the company “Boob-er” because it’s been a honeypot for women.

Why? Dennis has already cited his own experiences of Uber as one of his talking points of 2014. For my own part, a confirmed Uber virgin and hellbent on remaining the same, my own reason for citing the firm is a horrified fascination at the self-inflicted virtual car crash that the firm has pursued this year. Threatening to set the dogs on journalists who dare not to toe the party-line was bad. Getting the apology wrong after that made things worse. But upping the fares in the middle of what could have been a terrorist attack in Sydney is beyond the pale. This was the year in which Uber’s maverick ‘bad boy’ image just became one of a very nasty company indeed.

6 - It’s who you know

NB: No quote for this one because I’m not going to choose one from the many thought leaders across the tech industry that I’ve met this year.

Why? It’s always been one of the perks of this job, getting to hang out with genuine thought leaders and getting some insight into how they tick. Favorites from this year included Zuora’s TIen Tzuo, Cloudwords Michael Meinhardt and Coupa’s Rob Bernshsteyn, founders of three of the younger firms that I’ve tracked from their inception. See Subscription Economy drives the next evolution of the customerBeing Switzerland in the marketing cloud world war and Coupa’s Irish eyes are smiling as global customer support moves to Europe  

Elsewhere there were welcome reunions with the likes of Infor’s Charles Phillips, NetSuite's Zach Nelson and Salesforce's Marc Benioff,   all three of whom have become welcome regular faces on the interview calendar. See Exclusive: a Spanish inquisition with Infor CEO Charles Phillips, Fifteen Minutes with NetSuite's Zach Nelson and Benioff and the Great Glass Elevator (with apologies to Roald Dahl)

But if I had to pick out my favorite interview of the year. it would have to be my meeting in February with Microsoft’s Kirill Tatarinov in which he boldly claimed that no-one serious is doing cloud ERP -  Microsoft’s Tatarinov: no-one serious is doing cloud ERP! They were comments that caused a satisfying stir across the enterprise software market.

5 - To market, to market with the marketing cloud wars.

The CMO in the crossfire as the gloves come off in the marketing cloud wars 

It’s a Marketing First world. So the Gartner comment was helpful in driving that realisation. But the hyperbole around the amount of money that the CMO was going to spend versus the CIO was not based on facts.

Why? This was a theme that kicked off in 2013 and will still dominate 2015, but 2014 saw a steady escalation in the marketing cloud wars as the various combatants beefed up their arsenals with strategic and tactical acquisitions. And in the words of marketing cloud veteran Phil Fernandez, CEO of Marketo, put it, this one will run and run, as he said in Marketo CEO – marketing cloud wars for years as CMOs build relationships with CIOs.

4 - Digitizing Government

The demand for digital transformation is not a policy option. It’s a delivery crisis.

Why? 2014 was a year of some successes and some shortcomings in the drive to transform the public sector’s use of technology. Back in October, I despaired of the lack of radicalism in some quarters but was immensely cheered by a passionate rallying cry from Mike Bracken of the UK Government Digital Service for change. A good message, well said in Digital government’s delivery crisis demands radical change.

A less likely ally was to be found in the form of departing Digital Agenda European Commissioner Neelie Kroes. a lady with whom I have seldom seen eye to eye on anything, who redeemed herself briefly in my eyes at the 11th hour by taking a potshot at the lack of political willpower to support genuinely radical change, in Europe’s digital commissioner goes out attacking political leaders failures.

From a UK perspective though, I was immensely pleased to see the Obama government in the US turning to the UK GDS as a template for its own digital transformation efforts, as seen in US Digital Service team set up to prevent another HealthCare.gov debacle.

3 - The BBC

How the BBC spent £125.9m on digital – and got nothing in return 

The DMI was a major technology-enabled transformation programme for the BBC. The BBC was too optimistic about its ability to implement it and achieve the benefits.

Why? We wrote about many organizations digital initiative’s across 2014, but my eye returned time and again to the BBC. This is partly due to the nature of the broadcasting corporation in the UK national DNA, but also it was a body that demonstrated amply the difficulties and the potential of digital transformation.

The Digital Media Initiative was an abject disaster seen in The final damnation of the BBC’s £100m digital disastera textbook example of what not to do. But on the other hand, the corporation’s Ralph Rivera told the CDO Summit of the numerous successes scored in getting the BBC ready for a digital future in  The digital challenge of turning BBC Online into The BBC online. And in a world where Netflix has become a force majeur, the BBC’s bold decision to scrap a terrestrial channel in favor of a purely online version is a bold statement of intent in the form of  The BBC scraps a TV channel for a digital-only future.

2 - How not to do CRM

if it works this well I wish I’d been nicer to our customers much earlier.

Why? Bad CRM drives me potty and once again we honed in on far too many examples of this in practice across 2014. My personal favorite was the utterly batty and out of touch examples of hotel firms trying to fine guests for leaving bad reviews online - Fining guests for complaining on TripAdvisor? Some hotels just don’t get the new reality of customer feedback. 

On a more painful perosnal note, my own experience of mobile carrier O2’s inability to match its offline and online customer experience still stings, as seen in  A lesson from O2’s CRM as front line retail lets down customer services, while grocery chain J Sainsbury had one of the ‘best’ self-inflicted CRM woundings of the year in J Sainsbury’s shows how to destroy customer loyalty with your own loyalty scheme.

But the one guy who seems to have finally got the message is Michael O’Leary who’s discovered that not treating your customers as a flaming nuisance can pay dividends as he revealed in Ryanair CEO concedes being nice to customers does work as profits soar. That said, this 'first response is care for the customer' mantra can be taken a tad too far...


1 - Let's forget the right to be forgotten.

Unworkable, unreasonable, and wrong!

I’ve already cited Europe’s cloudy belligerence, but that was far from the worst thing to come out of the Commission this year. That was effortlessly its backing for the odious Right to be Forgotten, a weapon offered up to every crooked businessman, corrupt politician and convicted criminal to erase evidence of their pasts from internet searches, as outlined in European court’s Google ruling provides a blunt instrument to rewrite history.

I’m not alone in my distaste for the terrifying potential of such a right, the most celebrated critics perhaps being Sir Tim Berners-Lee who exclusively told diginomica of his fear of the implications of such a power in Why Sir Tim Berners-Lee is frightened of the ‘right to be forgotten.

Fortunately this is to be yet another area in which the UK is to be at loggerheads with the European Commission, opposing its bloody-minded determination to enshrine the Right to be Forgotten in new data protection legislation as reported in UK tells EU to forget the unworkable, unreasonable, wrong right to be forgottenBut this is going to be a tough fight as the new European Commissioner for Justice has nailed her colors to the mast immediately and declared that everyone who opposes her point of view is in the wrong, as seen in I’m right, you’re wrong, says Europe’s new Justice Commissioner to data privacy critics. Sigh.:-(

Disclosure: at time of writing, Infor, NetSuite, Oracle, Salesforce are all premier partners of diginomica while Coupa and Marketo are partners.