Enterprise hits and misses - AI's dangers are redefined, enterprise architecture gets overhauled, and holiday retail sweats the supply chain
- This week - does enterprise architecture need an overhaul? Will supply chain woes sink retailers' holiday hopes? AI remains dangerous, but not for the reasons we think. Buzzword bingo gets a biometric blockchain, and in the whiffs, I call out some linkbait.
Lead story - Is it time for enterprise architectures to be redrawn?
You can probably guess my answer, but let's hear from author Mark Chillingworth first. Look, we've been pushing towards a new enterprise stack for some time now.
But here's the problem: if architects build shiny new toys without business involvement, we risk ending up with an excess of Kubernetes - and a heaping helping of unwieldy microservices (I pick on Kubernetes because a big theme with KubeCon attendees last week was the need to effectively scale). Mark quotes Richard Williams, CIO with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD):
Too often architects disappear down into the details and don't contribute to the bigger conversation. How do we get architects to come on the journey that CIOs have been on, which is to reinvent themselves as value-adding assets to the business.
As for my microservices snark, I'm generally a fan of the "composable enterprise." But: I'm also a grumpy stickler for governance and ROI. Mark found proof points here. He quotes CTO Eric Newcomer at API tech firm WS02, a former global head of architecture at Citi and Credit Suisse:
The transition from monolith to microservices needs a high level of good governance. At Citi we needed to be able to scale in order to cope with payments from the likes of Airbnb and Uber.
To Mark's central point: "The pace of change increases the need for architecture." And what is good architecture? That's changed also - on several levels. Scripting and low-code helps with the build; business needs now reign supreme. Newcomer again:
We need people who translate business needs into technology investments.
Back to the question: do we need to redraw our enterprise architecture? Perhaps - but few companies have the appetite (or the budget) for a total tear down and rebuild. What we do need is to ensure our customer-facing apps and microservice projects add up to something - and fit into the same data platform. New platforms gain momentum over time - and that's where the viable business case lands. Tear it down? Probably not. But let it wither.
Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week
- Costa Coffee navigates COVID-19 whilst brewing a fresh HCM platform for its workforce - I'm a sucker for a coffee-related use case, and Gary's got a hot cup: "Having one single database, from timesheet, right the way through to pay, means there's no manual intervention needed. We can now also calculate pay whenever we want to, so we can see at any point in time the cost of salaries to the business." A good setup for pandemic times, where manual processes are log jams.
- Synthetic data for AI modeling? I'm still not convinced - AI vendors are sneaking "synthetic data" into all their PowerPoints. But Neil isn't sold yet: "I'm still not convinced of the argument for similar data that closely resembles the real data; the anonymizing has issues and drawbacks, and generative models do not make it any more credible."
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Christmas is (maybe) cancelled! Salesforce retail data indicates the hefty price of a global supply chain crisis this Holidays season - Will retailers overcome supply chain woes enough to salvage a decent holiday season? It might be the biggest remaining enterprise story of 2021. Stuart's on the case.
- The Big Four - what Ceridian did next - Brian breaks down the latest from perhaps the most underrated of the big HR vendors (from a coverage/analysis standpoint). Ceridian's Dayforce user conference provided major news stories from Brian to parse.
- Welcome to Yellowfin - How do we get to better BI projects? Yellowfin has hard-won lessons to share - and outspoken views on better BI. Last week, we welcomed Yellowfin as a diginomica partner. Here's my intro.
Yes, the virtual event cavalcade surged on... Here's some choice picks from our event hubs:
Google Cloud Next 2021:
- What's Next for Google Cloud? Showing enterprises its superiority as a cloud platform - Kurt
- Google Cloud kicks off Next 21 with focus on sustainability, Data Cloud, edge and collaboration - Derek
- Bed, Bath & Beyond CTO Scott Lindblom on how the retailer is pacing itself with Google Cloud on its $1.5 billion transformation marathon - Stuart
Now at Work 2021:
- Integrating CXO data at US Citizenship and Immigration Services with ServiceNow - Derek
- Envision, create, validate, communicate - the four keys to Beckton Dickinson's ServiceNow journey - Stuart
- How CDW transformed into a professional services business, with ServiceNow as the platform for change - Jon
A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- EVOLVE21 - diversity isn’t about the systems we need to fix, it’s about people - Madeline
- Vodafone connects 90,000 global employees with Workplace from Facebook - Gary
Jon's grab bag - Cath shares the story of a pioneering hacker in Ada Lovelace Day - hacker Alissa Knight on being a trans woman in a man's world. Chris returns to his robotics wheelhouse in UK robotics - government forecasts small gains from massive inaction.
Be warned: if you make the mistake of delivering a
larded-up, crudcastic jargon-heavy presentation, Brian might make a Mad Lib out of you: Eyes down for keynote buzzword bingo - a Brian Sommer masterclass. And yes, this all came out of one stupendous presso. Care to play along? Brian compiled a bingo sampler for you:
The Age of the Biometric Blockchain is materially altering the Future of Hybrid Work. Our highly adaptive, collaborative human leaders are enabling a mega-generational shift in stakeholder solutions that power today’s and tomorrow’s factories of the intellectual future.
Best of the enterprise web
My top eight
- Smartphone sales down 6% as chip shortages begin to impact market - I could pick a few "supply chain duress" articles each week. This time, Ron Miller's gets the nod.
- High-Profile Breaches Are Shifting Enterprise Security Strategy - As per Dark Reading's survey: "The attacks against Microsoft Exchange and SolarWinds highlighted enterprise concerns over supply chain vulnerabilities and attack visibility." If so, it's overdue.
- Artificial intelligence's data problem meets AI's people problem - Joe McKendrick sizes up AI project challenges.
- Why OpenAI’s Codex Won’t Replace Coders - I trashed a few AI articles this week on my Twitter feed for clickbait overdose (I'll get to that shortly). This was my pick for a more useful example.
- AI Isn’t ‘Scary Smart’ but Mindlessly Dangerous - We're making progress on defining the dangers of today's AI, and it's not the Terminator. This Bloomberg opinion piece covers similar ground: Artificial Intelligence Ain't That Smart. Look at Tesla, Facebook, Healthcare.
- Yes, and Charge for Cohort-Courses! Mark Finnen makes an impassioned case for "cohort learning." We can debate the monetization aspects - most vendors overcharge for training as it is, when they should treat it as a free marketing expense. But upping our training game is the right discussion.
- What Ever Happened to Intellectual Curiosity, Critical Thinking, and Perspective Taking - Gartner's Hank Barnes is on a roll lately...
I question the veracity of this one, but the headline is a keeper: Tattoo artist set ablaze during butt tattoo 'gas leak'. These guys pulled a fast one, apparently: Carmen Mola: Lauded Spanish female crime writer revealed to be 3 men.
Juxtaposing "dangerous AI" is goofy AI:
Self-driving Waymo cars gather in a San Francisco neighborhood, confusing residents https://t.co/vw8rJZlOfk
Another joked that the "the robot revolution is not imminent."
-> Hey, at least these machines are more dumb than scary
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) October 16, 2021
I could do without the AI hype festival though, this time from Dark Reading:
How AI Can Stop Zero-Day Ransomware https://t.co/l8CEZ6CwCp
Given no examples of AI stopping zero-day ransomware were provided in this article, this would have been properly framed as a hypothetical question: "Can AI stop zero-day ransomware?"
Hype can wait until is it earned.
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) October 17, 2021
Finally, this got the dander up:
They quit. Now they want their jobs back https://t.co/MxWDQalWB6
-> totally misleading linkbait headline by Wired, guess they were underconfident that the article could stand by its own merits
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) October 16, 2021
If you're curious about the data Wired has - that folks who quit are coming back with their tails between their legs, or intend to, don't bother. Wired doesn't have any data, at least not here. Not a bad article - but evidently it wasn't the one Wired wanted, so they changed the title to suit themselves. "Follow the data" is fine. "Forget the data, we have a story to run" is another. 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.