Enterprise hits and misses - AI faces the problem of scale, and American Express adds to the flexible work debate, but talent and diversity issues remain

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed October 25, 2021
This week - American Express comes out with a flexible work policy of note, but employers still struggle with talent and diversity issues. AI faces issues of scale, and generates plenty of whiffs along the way. Readers are only too glad to help with Facebook's renaming.


Lead story - Does the American Express return-to-office policy mark a turning point?

A few months (centuries?) ago, Derek issued a workplace warning:

I noted how leaders have lost control of the office, and that they need to realize choice is key.

He didn't stop there:

Hybrid is the future. If leaders don't come to terms with this, they risk putting their organizations at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

Despite Derek's wake-up call, I worried that too many employers would cling to rigid return-to-office fantasies policies, albeit while putting them on a Delta variant hold. Or, they would continue to congratulate themselves on so-called "hybrid" policies that are, in my view, baby steps. Well, Derek has an update, via a company that's doing it right: American Express shows leadership with future of work policy - gives employees flexibility and control. He writes:

As we enter the Vaccine Economy, there's a distinct impression that organizations are either scrambling to figure out their ‘future of work' policies, or are leading with ‘stick' and telling their employees to get back to the office ASAP. Some companies - Goldman Sachs, we are looking at you - have issued statements on their workplace expectations that now seem positively old-school, given what a lot of people have gone through during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And then we have American Express, taking the forward-thinking route with its Amex Flex policy. Check Derek's piece for the details, but it's a mix of office-based (for a few), hybrid (for many) and remote (for select cases). But as Derek notes, there is more:

In addition to the above, American Express is also introducing a ‘work from anywhere' component for those that can work remotely. This means, as part of Amex Flex, employees will have the opportunity to work up to four calendar weeks from a location other than their primary work location each year, during which time they won't have to come into the office at all.

Now we're getting closer to my definition of flexible work. Shouldn't 'work from anywhere' mean 'anywhere you can get on the freaking Internet' - Antarctica included? Derek:

There's a lot to like here. Clear communication from the top of the organization. A flexible framework that gives employees and leaders scope to adapt, as well as room to apply the principles to varying needs of individual employees. And a recognition that the old 9-5 hours full time in the office are actually not conducive to excelling in a digital-first environment.

Yep - one thing that's missing from this: the creation of localized office 'hotspots' to ease commutes. But, yes, a lot to like. As Derek rightly points out, the work isn't done:

But this isn't where the work ends. With a policy in place, Amex now needs to focus on its maturity model for enterprise digital teamwork - which my colleague Phil Wainewright outlines here.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Conversational AI - can IVAs like Amelia change the customer experience? Neil isn't exactly a chatbot cheerleader, so I found his take on Amelia notable: "Amelia is so powerful that she can train digital assistants for specific tasks without having all the capabilities of a cognitive digital assistant, which sets her apart from RPA and chatbots." My prior Amelia demo didn't go so swell, but if Neil isn't too grouchy about Amelia, I'm keeping an open mind.
  • The battle for talent and inequality at work - two problems, one major headache for businesses - Madeline reviews a notable SuiteWorld panel. Much of the news is grim, or same-old, but I did like this: "Deloitte has been running a program for the last five years called Encore, a return to work program that recruits primarily women who have been out of their careers for a while. This entails some very specific on the job training, not just for a few weeks but over a couple of months." With more sustained return-to-work trainings, the tech talent issue improves - imagine that! I've only had a big ol' chip on my shoulder been banging on about this since around 1997...
  • Data drives Autostrade out of tragedy - Mark filed an important use case, and a story to watch: "This is not the first time I have interviewed a CIO brought in when an organization is at its lowest point."

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

Virtual event smorgasboard: once again the diginomica team fanned out (virtually), as the event binge continues. Some highlights, starting with SuiteWorld:

Martin added his angle on Rocket Software EVOLVE:

Twilio Engage sparked fresh takes:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Overworked businessman


This just in - unless you want to count all the times we've done this before: Scientists Built an AI to Give Ethical Advice, But It Turned Out Super Racist. And this one - though I'm not sure if it's a whiff, or a warning:

My riff on Facebook's renaming generated a number of suggestions the Facebook team may have overlooked:

If I had to pick one, I'll go with Tom Raftery:

Finally, I've had some AI voice transcriptions lately that are vastly superior to anything I human could have done:

I'm already dreading the days AI gets too smart for fun like this... 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.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - Oracle (owner of NetSuite), Workday, ServiceNow, Zoho, Neptune Software and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing. Rocket Software is a diginomica event hub partner.

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