Enterprise hits and misses - HR tech events wrap, but the AI firing debate carries on, while Dreamforce gets a (thorough) review
- This week - HR tech's big events are over - but the debate over AI for firing is heating up. Yes, diginomica did Dreamforce, and boiled down the takeaways. Your whiffs include the follies of being data-driven.
Lead story - HR tech events in review - is HR listening yet?
A couple weeks, ago, we put HR tech in the hot seat. Now, the big HR tech fall shows are in the books - so where do we stand?
Our in-depth Workday Rising coverage is one reference point. Meanwhile, Brian was loose in Vegas at HR Tech and SAP Success Connect. He unfurled an epic two-parter, with rumors of yet more
salty analysis and tarmac tunip to follow:
- HR Tech 2022 in review - the state of HR and HR technology
- The state of HR tech part two - how far are HR vendors really advancing?
Brian saw some (HR) things he liked in Vegas, but he kept it real:
- The completeness or science behind some solutions may leave you wanting sometimes
- And, integration is the problem CHROs are still confronting with few great solutions in sight
When I explored advances in "continuous listening," I came back to Brian's stomping ground: employers now have the tools to listen effectively - but will they? And will they act? Digital HR exhaust can also power a surveillance culture; can HR earn the trust to listen? "Intelligent" HR tools can cut both ways. Cath filed an important piece that drives the point home: You’re fired! Can we trust algorithms to decide who gets sacked and who doesn’t?
Though AI-powered firing isn't happening across the industry (yet), Cath provides enough proof points to make any HR tech advocate squirm (I didn't know Facebook laid off 60 contractors last month, randomly selected by an algorithm).
The troubling thing about enterprise blockchain is the lack of live projects. Enterprise AI has exactly the opposite problem: we constantly learn about ill-conceived, poorly-designed use cases already in production - an overreach with all-too-human consequences. One snarker on Twitter told me:
AI could probably do a better job of firing than humans could.
Sadly, that could be true at times. But it's wrongheaded to use one extreme to justify the other. A well-designed AI tool should help humans be more accountable (and fair) in their decisions - and vice versa.
As Cath writes:
Ethical, moral and reputational issues aside, these kinds of situation is something that the AI industry needs to evaluate, explore and start taking some responsibility for.
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Accenture pulls in solid full year earnings - CEO Julia Sweet says ‘all strategies lead to technology’ - Derek's on Accenture's numbers, and an optimistic-but-sober outlook from Sweet: "Sweet added that Accenture’s in a good position to thrive, given its position and the trends it is seeing with enterprise customers. In particular, buyers are focused on technology procurement and quick return to value outcomes."
- ServiceNow’s Tokyo release aims to help customers get more value during uncertain times - Derek on a major new ServiceNow release: "ServiceNow is responding to the increased pressures facing customers with new purpose built solutions, which it says aim to tackle the current complex compliance and risk management landscape."
- Does cloud ERP provide a hedge against economic uncertainty? Acumatica CEO John Case weighs in, as the R2 release comes out - My talk with Acumatica's CEO pressed into a burning question - can modern ERP provide a way to differentiate in downturns?
- Workday Rising 2022 - is continuous listening disruptive to HR managers? Peakon's GM takes the interview hot seat - At Workday Rising, I put Workday's GM for Peakon Phil Chambers on the interview hot seat - and got a few surprises of my own.
Our Dreamforce 2022 coverage, wall to wall
Miss anything at Dreamforce you wanted to track down? You've come to the right place - diginomica's "saturate Moscone" Dreamforce coverage kicked off before the show; our on-the-ground + remote combo team piled on from there. Here's a few high points:
- Marc Benioff - not quite business as normal in the Vaccine Economy, but it is ‘up-and-to-the-right’ - Stuart's piece sets the tone of the first in-person Dreamforce since... well, you know.
- Slack adds a collaborative canvas and a co-code platform - Phil reports on two Slack news items of note, leading him to conclude: "Slack has now come of age as a complete platform for enterprise digital teamwork." That's a long way from a chaotic messaging environment for geeks (like me) and coders.
- Could it be magic? The Genie is out of the bottle to tackle a long-running data problem for business - Stuart takes on the most notable new product news of the show. Yep, it's a CDP, with a Salesforce twist.
- Dreamforce and sustainability - the inspirational Jane Goodall - If Dreamforce is a customer party with a purpose, this would be the purpose part; Madeline has the story.
- Insurance provider Vitality builds a continuous relationship with its clients using Salesforce - Got to have the customer proof points - here's one of our Dreamforce use cases, this one by Derek.
I can't sum up Dreamforce in a blurb, but this bit from Stuart's Benioff piece jumped out. Benioff noted the number of large customer teams that showed up last week. Stuart writes:
Perhaps that ought not to be that surprising given comments made by both Salesforce and others in the tech sector of late to the effect that buying cycles have extended as organizations take more time to jump through all the approval hoops in the evaluation and procurement process. Are these larger teams perhaps indicative of a more wary decision-making environment as the Vaccine Economy takes shape?
Benioff has strong views on this idea, insisting that the buying environment is robust and the relevance of Salesforce has never been higher. Customers need these solutions to be successful, he argues.
This is only my view, but I push back on the "great-to-be-back" storyline of the fall shows. It's true, but there's more to it. Instead, I buy into this: we're in this together, whether we could make the event or not. And, to the economic point: we're going to need the best enterprise software tech - and companies - to emerge from this for the better. So far the software buying patterns, albeit bumpy at times, reinforce this truth.
Jon's grab bag - "For most companies, go to market is broken." That's a good hook for Barb's Go-to-market is broken - GTM Partners wants to help you fix your approach. Neil reports on a different approach to quantum innovation in The Israel Innovation Authority is building a new quantum computing research center - what will the impact be? Big tech is facing regulatory headwinds in the EU; Derek adds the UK to that mix in UK regulator to probe market power of Amazon, Microsoft and Google - could lead to action.
Best of the enterprise web
My top seven
- AI has bigger role in cybersecurity, but hackers may benefit the most - it's refreshing to read the truth, not the usual AI hype festival: when it comes to security, AI helps both sides.
- The FTC Is Closing in on Runaway AI - I don't have high hopes for smart AI regulation; I don't think our legislators grasp the tech's scope well enough to legislate it. That said some teeth is better than none.
- To alleviate DevOps skills issues, we need more AI skills, ironically - Joe McKendrick rolled out a doozy of a statement last week: "Enterprises need specialized skills in order to alleviate a need for specialized skills." A paradox that has stalled many projects over the years...
- Recapping the Recaps: Top 6 HR Tech Themes - Bonnie Tinder of Raven Intelligence picks the top quotes from the HR tech week reviews. You can also catch Tinder on the replay of my great customer success debate video blowout.
- Workday Rising 2022: Measuring Progress on Planning - Doug Henschen did a strong job getting roadmap specifics, and pulling in customer views.
- Data ethics: What it means and what it takes - McKinsey raises some terrific points on the ethics of data, including: consider the entire data pipeline.
- Avoiding Dead-end Streets As We Build the Future of Supply Chain Planning – Lora Cecere getting it done yet again.
My tweet on the perils of data-driven set off a road burn of Twitter riffs:
Question for those who are "data driven" -
What happens if the data is bad?
Is it like running your car off a cliff, or maybe like getting a speeding ticket and a ding on your insurance?
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 21, 2022
I got some keeper responses:
In the early days of car navigation systems there have been instances of cars running off the road into rivers - as the ferry was marked as a bridge and drivers believed the data
MyPoV: be sure that data is good before you let it drive. And have a plan b
— Thomas Wieberneit (@twieberneit) September 21, 2022
I also went back to my old scratching post, Zuck's metaverse:
Mark Zuckerberg: The metaverse will unfold in 3 steps, and one is happening ‘sooner than I thought' https://t.co/0fphteUkgb
-> Zuck getting excited because a few people are exercising with their peers online. Wow this is some revolutionary stuff
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 24, 2022
Which led me to this moment of
I am bullish on real world AR, but I am rooting against the immersive metaverse Zuck is infatuated with because mainstream adoption will be directly proportional to deteriorating conditions in the real world. AR will enhance real life, VR is an escape from it https://t.co/V7LNxEPtpn
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 24, 2022
Finally, I had a burning question for Brian Sommer:
Southwest Airlines gives out ukuleles on a flight: Behind the polarizing promotion https://t.co/RZoLIBj6Qj
-> @brianssommer please tell me you were on this flight... :)
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 25, 2022
Now word from Brian on this one as of yet... 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.