Enterprise hits and misses - Amazon and Walmart face off on deliveries, while big SIs are held to account

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed May 18, 2019
This week - Retailers make omni-progress, but face challenges from competitors - and tariffs. Plus: big SIs get scrutinized. Event season rolls on, with cloud ERP on deck. And: I blow gaskets in the whiffs section.


Lead story - Macy's omni-channel plot thickens, while Amazon and Walmart face off - retail stories by Stuart Lauchlan

MyPOV: Stuart updates high-drama retail storylines this week, starting with a good news/bad news deal for Macy's in The omni-channel transformation at Macy's is finally working, just as Trump's China trade war comes along to complicate things.

Macy's omni-channel successes include mobile spend in My Wallet, My Stores and My Stylist. STORES, featuring in-store pop-ups around narrative/community themes, are promising. But trade and tariffs are the stuff of concern. Stuart:

It's clearly an unwelcome distraction, stealing executive attention as the company looks to find ways to mitigate and minimize any impact, which is why the Macy's CEO hopes that "these trade actions will de-escalate."

Well, he can hope, but I wouldn't be holding my breath if I were him.

Meanwhile, Amazon and Walmart take their behemoth skirmish to another front: same day delivery. Stuart frames the issue in One-day logistics challenge delivers up a new front in the omni-channel retail war between Walmart and Amazon. Still reeling from the blocked Walmart-Sainsbury's merger, Walmart refocuses on catching Amazon in the U.S. same day delivery game - making the case that a Prime membership is not required, and, well, Walmart stores are everywhere, easing logistical hurdles.

Better move fast. Amazon will have something to say about grocery delivery before long. Stuart:

And with the majority of Walmart’s e-commerce business coming from groceries, there remains the still-to-be realised challenge to come from Amazon in that space.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week


Vendor analysis, diginomica style. It was a cloud ERP kind of week for the diginomica road crew:


Meanwhile, Den made his curmudgeonly inquisitive way to the iTelligence UK event - the largest SAP partner in the UK by customer count. He found SAP making S/4HANA headway: iTelligence UK sees accelerating SAP S/4HANA demand, and a five month conversion story to back it up: You think an SAP S/4HANA conversion is a nightmare? Check out IESA's five month journey.

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:


Jon's grab bag - Cath filed an important piece on mental health and the tech industry, Mental Health Awareness Week - the tech industry crisis that organizations need to tackle. No surprise from this survey - two thirds of tech industry workers feel stressed, and more than half have struggled with depression.

Stuart parses fresh data on the digital skills gap in US, UK among countries that need to do better on digital up-skilling, warns OECD. One sample: "Across the US population, 10.2% of workers are in occupations at high risk of automation and would need moderate training to move into occupations with low or medium risk of automation." Too bad we're better at documenting the problem than finding solutions.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Systems Integrators held to account, and advisory offered 

MyPOV: Though some big SIs have offered convincing digital services, I've long wondered when SIs will be forced through the depth of business model change that software vendors are now compelled to undertake. This week, seasoned advisors gave their take on getting more out of your SIs - or holding them to account.

Start with How to Amplify the Value of Your System Integrator - Wish You Had a Manual? - by John Belden of UpperEdge. Belden ties better SI management to five project phases/areas. Given the long-time problem of talent bait-and-switch, I especially liked Belden's tip on SI bench management:

When the SI proposed staffing for your project, probably only 10% of the firm was available for your assignment. This means that 90% of the talent was not considered. This doesn't mean that it should not be actively considered in the future.  Concentrate on the existing gaps and weakness of the project team, and constantly look to improve.

Result:  Conduct formal reviews of top candidates by job grade on a bi-monthly basis.  Build this into the plan.

Eric Kimberling of Third Stage Consulting hit on similar themes, albeit with an over-the-top post title, Big ERP Systems Integrators Exposed. The "exposed" bit doesn't work for me, given how many of us have been advising customers for years on holding SIs to account - including Kimberling himself. But Kimberling is right; the issue persists:

So, what is the problem? For one, there is no accountability – and things are not getting better... Some may say that no one has ever gotten fired for hiring one of the well-known big guys, but many organizations have certainly been sued as a result of doing so.

Kimberling lays out the big SI problems, from skills competency gaps to biases towards certain software vendors. He sprinkles in enough recent failure references to remind us of the stakes, along with a load of reader comments.

ERP projects are complicated, but in my view, the solutions to the big SI woes Kimberling documents here are pretty simple: customers need to take more control, and keep independent experts not affiliated with the prime vendor on hand throughout projects. That holds true even if customers opt for smaller/specialized firms - another approach Kimberling recommends.

Other standouts

  • HPE is buying Cray for $1.3 billion - Okay, not the most scintillating acquisition news of the year, but Ron Miller grabbed the tech news baton. It's all about "high performance computing" and the marketing roman candle that's about to go off intrigue of quantum computing on the horizon.
  • Salesforce outage caused by exposed database script  - The "Faulty database script brings Salesforce to its knees" headline from ZDNet is a traffic-lusting editor looking for a click-fix, but while the exposed script only impacted Salesforce Pardot customers, service outages were broader as Salesforce confronted the problem.
  • How To Secure Mobile Devices In A Zero Trust World - Louis Columbus continues his "zero trust" series with this unsettling juxtaposition: "86% of enterprises are seeing mobile threats growing the fastest this year, outpacing other threat types." But: "48% say they’ve sacrificed security to “get the job done” up from 32% last year. You know those "expect delays' highway signs? "Expect breaches" should be our mobile security mantra.


Honorable mention


Overworked businessman


So if you're one of the 500,000 who signed the couch potatoes need help meaningless petition demanding HBO remake the final season of Game of Thrones, there is some good news: another scintillating season of The Amazing Race is still in progress - and this is not an elimination round.

In more proof of the decline of civilization, Austrians had to be warned not to go off kissing cows after a social media challenge went viral. Oh, and in a move sure to embolden the "customer experience" crowd (as if they needed anything this exciting) Taco Bell is opening a hotel.

In another slap in the face to those suckers kind souls who were generous enough to fill out surveys to give brands more data than they deserve to be trusted with, some of those folks got their data exposed for their trouble, due to an unsecured Elasticsearch database impacting an estimated 8 million.

Oh, and:


Meanwhile, I took exception to yet another blockchain Koolaid overdose - an article title which conflated the present with an uncertain future:

I hope that the author is now resting comfortably and in recuperation. Finally: Could Quantum Computing Be the End of Free Will?

No. Just stop it. Of course, by the end of the "article," the author quickly dismisses her own title. I want my click back. 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. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

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