Enterprise hits and misses - AI disrupts education, tech spending gets a pulse check, and hybrid events get scorched
- This week - AI is disrupting education, but to what extent? ChatGPT takes over an enterprise blog - for one post. Tech services spending points to a slowdown, and hybrid events need a serious rethink. Oh, and diginomica is ten years old... The secrets of our longevity are revealed.
Lead story - How disruptive is AI - in education and beyond?
Derek du Preez is right - we need to be careful about overhyping AI. But that doesn't mean enterprises can take their typically sweet time. As Derek noted in Education sector companies begin to notice impact of ChatGPT - shares tumble:
A US-based online learning platform, Chegg, warned earlier this week that for the first time since the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the company is seeing a spike in student interest in the large language model (LLM) tool and that it is having an impact on its customer growth... The news saw Cheng’s share price fall by half on Tuesday and sent a ripple effect through the rest of the online education sector. Companies such as Pearson, Duolingo and Udemy all saw their share price fall off the back of Chegg’s comments.
I try to never, ever, use the brutally bland buzzword "pivot," but... can somebody say pivot? Derek:
Chegg said during its earnings update this week that it is working with OpenAI to build out a generative AI tool to support its long term growth, but that in the short term ChatGPT is impacting its customer acquisition and revenue growth.
We can argue about how much more disruptive ChatGPT will be in future releases. I'll argue that the next wave of generative AI innovations will be more about industry data, and less about blowing out the already-robust training data parameters of a general-purpose tool. More on that later. Derek nails down a crucial aspect: if you're smart (and advanced) with your data, maybe you're not as disrupted as you may appear:
Much of the future use of AI will revolve around trust. Not all tools will be created equal and Chegg should be emphasizing the integrity of its dataset.
Stuart hits on the broader AI implications in part two of his Keith Block feature, Let's calm down, get educated, take responsibility - Smith Point CEO Keith Block on AI and the need for leadership. He gets to the essence in this Block quote:
The way I like to think of it is, where there's lots of data, and potentially lots of structure, I think AI is really good. But when you start introducing human judgement, that's not where AI is now, and I think it's going to be a long time, if ever, before AI replaces human judgement.
Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week
I blew a bit of a gasket, thanks to a topic that is sure to get my chip on shoulder - Rethink hybrid events - a new method for including your audience, rather than losing them:
Yes, it's great to see each other again - but not when we're sitting on our behinds through excessively long keynotes, yawning through all-male-panels, blasting through Powerpoint decks with grim determination, and shouting to be heard at networking events, while past-their-prime DJs pump up the jams.
But all is not lost: amidst the smattering of successful events, a viable method for how to think about hybrid has emerged.
I didn't even get to the problem of (stale) webinars. But Barb did, via Finding the ROI in webinars - learnings from Banzai VP of Marketing, Ashley Levesque.
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Salesforce World Tour NYC - Slack embeds generative AI to help teams work better - How is Slack finding generative AI impact? Phil: "The tie-up between Accenture and Salesforce highlights an important point — technology alone doesn't solve anything unless it's introduced in a way that allows people to adapt to it, reskill, and maximize the benefits of new processes and working patterns."
- Confluent Cloud bolsters ‘data-in-motion’ vendor’s Q1 results - Derek: "Confluent CEO uses the company’s first quarter earnings to outline how its cloud-based platform is superior to Kafka on-premise." A bit of earnings report smack talk always keeps things interesting...
- Zoholics 2023 - Zoho unveils its generative AI news, but does it co-exist with customer data privacy? - My time at Zoholics New York City gave me extra time to boil down Zoho's AI news: "Which vendor is truly innovating in AI, and which is better at writing press releases? What's ready for prime time, and what's not? What are the risks?"
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- Box applies OpenAI's GPT technology to enterprise content with the launch of Box AI - Phil
- Freshworks Q1 sees revenue up, losses down and more large customers on the books - Stuart
- FinancialForce changes its name to Certinia to connect the dots - Phil
Jon's grab bag - Didn't think diginomica was going to cover the coronation? We found a way: Modernizing the Monarchy - some Coronation culture change considerations for Charles III (Cath). Meanwhile, the EU is heading towards significant AI regulation: European Union edges closer to passing AI Act - but time is of the essence (Derek).
Mark Chillingworth explores how digital gaming companies push performance boundaries in 888 Holdings lines up multi-channel players and platform. Madeline continues our "What I'd say to me back then" series with Zoho’s Deepa Kuppuswamy on cybersecurity’s gender image problem.
diginomica is ten - and I don't mean ten months
Finally, I'm not that into birthday shindigs, but I may be facing an exception - now that diginomica is turning 10. Stuart explains the mysterious phenomenon of how-the-heck-we-got-this-far in Now we are 10! Looking back on the (first) diginomica decade. I guess it all comes down to a fateful moment (or two) at the enterprise event bar, bemoaning the sorry state of enterprise tech media. Stuart:
Why don’t we stop moaning about it all and do something about it?
Therein lies a tale. As for this happy feedback Stuart received in the early going:
It's a good idea - I give it ten months.
For defying that prognosis, we have you, lovely reader, to thank. As I've said before, discerning readers are everything. Come to think of it, this is just about the ten year anniversary of this column as well. Thanks for your support - and for bringing the critical heat whenever needed. As I commented on Stuart's post: "Bless the discerning readers who proved this diginomica thing wasn't hot air, or another crash and burn media startup."
As AI-for-content-generation picks up steam, and perhaps even challenges the fundamental idea of reader trust, I don't think our work - or yours - is done just yet. Let's keep this thing going, shall we?
Best of the enterprise web
My top seven
- News Analysis: Global Services Q4 Wrap Up Shows Slowing Momentum - Constellation's Ray Wang breaks down the services numbers, and explains why he sees a 3-6 month slowdown coming, particularly in North America: "The IT services firms that move the quickest will gain market share despite the current slow down. Quarterly results show that decision makers have slowed down decision making. Deals that took months now take quarters to close. Here's a quick summary of the Q4 earnings of Indian majors."
- Another bank bites the dust. Three recommendations to wring opportunity out of this so-called crisis - Elena Christopher of HfS Research assesses the fall of First Republic Bank: "J.P. Morgan scooped them up on May 1, with its Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon widely quoted in the press insisting that this is not a global financial crisis repeat. HFS tends to agree with him. Central banks and the financial services community have too much at stake to let that happen. It was a long road back from 2008. Trust in banks is still dicey at best. We expect we’ll see continued regulatory oversight, financial support and rescue buy-outs if needed to keep the global banking system functional."
- Strategy. Strategy. Wherefore Art Thou Strategy? - Lora Cecere gets down to supply chain business again: "We find that companies with an analytics center of excellence drove progress faster than those with a supply chain center of excellence. The issue? Organizations that embrace and use data outperform."
- Ready, set, go, and keep going: Why speed is key to a successful transformation - the data shows that transformations are tough to pull off, and often fall short of their stated goals. McKinsey asks why.
- Why Digital Transformations Cause Business Disruptions...And How to Minimize Those Disruptions - then there is the disruption problem; Eric Kimberling delves in: "In reality, transformations may take much longer due to the critical path of people and processes. This can be a significant problem since many organizations base their budgets and careers on the timeline they initially planned." True - and yikes.
So, Dave Kellogg of Kellblog gave ChatGPT a chance to author one of his posts: ChatGPT Writes a Kellblog Post: The Indispensable Role of Marketing in the Age of the Customer. As I responded on Twitter:
ChatGPT Writes a Kellblog Post: The Indispensable Role of Marketing in the Age of the Customer - https://t.co/8WcQfB4B3h
-> interesting experiment. ChatGPT summarization capabilties are good as we know. The writing vs @kellblog's usual sharp content is overconfident blandness
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) May 7, 2023
Now, this wasn't really a fair challenge for ChatGPT. Dave Kellogg is at the top of his game blogging on SaaS metrics, marketing, and basically how to avoid being a crap SaaS startup, and be an outstanding one instead. He does it with bits of disarming humor, fusing in personal reflections this generation of bots can't really touch.
Kellogg acknowledges that the bot came up short - though he brought a reader comment to my attention, where some GPT4 experiments on his work showed stylistic improvements. I responded:
yeah, that ties in with my view that custom, industry-specific content can be improved. But I don't think scaling will dramatically change this from here. New approaches will be needed. Your friend's prompts still can't replace your blog - or the invaluable humor that engages
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) May 7, 2023
GPT evangelists seem to think the tech is just going to get better and better and break down all barriers. Whereas I think the tech is already plenty powerful, but has inherent limitations based on the type of AI (LLM/deep learning) in use here. No, Kellogg cannot replace himself with ChatGPT blog experiments.
I hope he is happy about that; I sure am. I'm not up for busking for a living amidst New England winters. But as I told Kellogg, replacing below-average freelancers is another matter entirely: ‘I’ve Never Hired A Writer Better Than ChatGPT’: How AI Is Upending The Freelance World. That is right in ChatGPT's wheelhouse.
Maybe getting your passport checked before your board is a good idea after all:
Oops! Frontier Airlines sent passenger to Jamaica instead of Jacksonville — without a passport https://t.co/cWU1GCcWxe
-> worst part is landing in Jamaica without the passport - hard to make the best of being in Jamaica on the airport tarmac
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) May 7, 2023
I'd say this qualifies as an AI overreach:
Senators Call on USPS to Delay Controversial Pay Cut for Rural Carriers Determined By Mystery Algorithm https://t.co/HUtoJFgfiz
"The USPS has not disclosed either publicly or to the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, how the RRECS algorithms actually work."
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) May 7, 2023
If the tool puts out an inhumane result, that's on you, not the tool. Actually, at that point, you are the tool... Meanwhile, Raven Intel's Bonnie Tinder shared a breakthrough insight on leadership:
— Bonnie Tinder (@btinder) May 3, 2023
On the flip side, this is what I call a life well lived:
Gordon Lightfoot 1938-2023 R.I.P. https://t.co/wHY0BYIWhL
-> indeed. Glad that Rick led off with "If You Can Read My Mind," one of the greatest love songs ever recorded....
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) May 2, 2023
Thanks for the soundtrack Mr. Lightfoot... 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.