Enterprise hits and misses - HR tech events wrap, but the AI firing debate carries on, while Dreamforce gets a (thorough) review

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed September 26, 2022
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:

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:

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:

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

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Overworked businessman


My tweet on the perils of data-driven set off a road burn of Twitter riffs:

I got some keeper responses:

I also went back to my old scratching post, Zuck's metaverse:

Which led me to this moment of clarity ventilation:

Finally, I had a burning question for Brian Sommer:

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.

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