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Enterprise hits and misses - Black Friday shoppers give their omni-verdict, while data hackers breach and breach again

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed December 2, 2019
This week - shoppers issue their first holiday shopping verdict - from the couch. Retail's holiday winners and losers are taking shape. Data hackers and black hats pull off another breach-filled week. Your whiffs include smart devices outsmarting themselves.


Lead story - DIY retailers get their digital report cards, as holiday season kicks in

MyPOV: We'll have full retail analysis of the Black Friday holiday season kick-off next week. For now, looks like the big takeaway is the e-commerce surge, as omni-channel holidays win out, over heading to physical stores to suffer the existential purgatory of shopping malls indignities of long check-out lines and understaffed help desks.

Meanwhile, Stuart provides context in his digital checkups of major retailers, starting with Home Depot (Digital DIY - getting the prep work right has slowed down Home Depot's digital do-over, admits CEO). Yes, some digital successes were notched, but as Stuart notes, the bumps in the road turned out to be substantial. As I wrote in my headline story from last year's NRF show, retailers are in the data business now. And that implicates a company's entire IT foundation. Stuart quotes Home Depot's CEO:

Much of this IT work requires unwinding our legacy systems and that has proven to be more complex than originally anticipated.

Stuart moves on to Lowe's in Digital DIY - how Lowe's underestimated the complexity of its e-commerce challenge. Similar challenges, though Lowe's has been tripping on digital basics as well (their site went down on Black Friday last year). When you combine under-investment in IT with a lack of e-commerce sophistication, you're not going far. This isn't hammers and nails. Stuart quotes Lowe's CEO:

When I look back at our initial assessment of the business, I would say the only thing that we probably underestimated, [in terms of] the level of complexity, was the e-commerce business.

Where does the complexity come from? Answer: the fluidity between channels, and consumers' insistence on being able to move quickly from one to the other. But that invokes more foundational work: moving to the Google Cloud, and integrating back end supply chain capabilities.

Hmm - sounds like a classic do-it-yourself project that unraveled into something bigger. Soon, we'll have the numbers to assess how these two retailers have fared.

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

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Two UK and EU stories from Stuart, both with a whiffy aroma, both with broader import. First, Uber manages to be the biggest jagoffs in the "sharing economy" not named Airbnb bite the hand that feeds in Uber loses licence in London - again! - as global regulatory challenges arise in the gig economy. Then, over at the European Parliament, privacy bites both ways: European Parliament comes under fire from its own privacy regulator over election data concerns.

Barb grapples with the mysteries of B2B storytelling in Is storytelling the missing link between brands, engagement and conversion? STORYSOFT thinks so. Kurt delves into tech trends that actually matter in Arm servers attack cloud and HPC - here's why enterprises should care. I do the complete opposite in Turkey time - the dorkiest tech predictions for 2020 so far. No, these are not the infamous annual un-predictions, but rest assured, those are in the oven.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Black Friday numbers roll in, as shoppers vote from their couch

Retail giveth; retail taketh away. If early numbers are any judge, it's the physical storefronts without an omni-presence that are set to take a big hit.

As per Pamela Danzinger's Retail Winners and Losers from Black Friday 2019:

E-commerce retailers killed it this Black Friday, with digital sales up nearly 20%, reaching $7.4 billion across the 4,500 retail websites that Adobe Analytics tracks. It became the second-largest online shopping day in history, eclipsed only by Cyber Monday last year, when $7.9 billion in sales were done.

It wasn't just e-commerce retail that won the day. But: some storefronts lost:

It’s still the early days of the final holiday-season retail push, but early results point to who’s going to win big (e-commerce and omni-channel retailers with strong mobile platforms) and lose (physical retailers dependent on in-store traffic) through the rest of December.

No surprise - mall traffic was down. But for the omni-savvy, BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store) was up 43 percent. Reuters added context in Black Friday shoppers stay away from stores, make $7 billion-plus splurge online. It's too early for big holiday conclusions, but retail consultant Brian Field, quoted by Reuters, sums it up:

What all of this really boils down to is the customer journey has changed, now it can start anywhere online, in-store and end anywhere ... and it is about making sure the customer makes the purchase and stays loyal to the brands more than where it happens.

Next up: Cyber Monday, sure to get a boost from craptastic weather a work-from-home day by the fire.

Honorable mention

  • Hacks and security breaches galore - Yep, another banner week in the questionable security of our data. Zack Whittaker was heavy on the beat, filing unpleasant reveals like Millions of SMS messages exposed in database security lapse. This time business SMS service True Dialog botched it up: "The database stored years of sent and received text messages from its customers and processed by TrueDialog. But because the database was left unprotected on the internet without a password, none of the data was encrypted and anyone could look inside." Louis Columbus extols the virtues of "zero trust," but we're never going to get to zero trust if we have zero brains. Oh, and more from Whittaker: Mixcloud data breach exposes over 20 million user records:"When reached, Mixcloud spokesperson Lisa Roolant did not comment beyond a boilerplate corporate statement." Good job, good effort Mixcloud...
  • CIOs concerned IT not providing enough of a competitive edge - a twist on not-investing-enough in the IT foundation is: what if you've invested in digital, and are still barely in the game? Or, as Joe McKendrick puts it: "The question becomes: how can IT and digital technologies be employed in ways that deliver competitive advantage, that help enterprises rise above the rest with unique and potential disruptive approaches? What is the role IT needs to play?"
  • What’s New On The Zero Trust Security Landscape In 2019 - Speaking of Louis Columbus and zero trust...
  • The Impact of Robots on the U.S. Labor Market - your feel-not-so-good robots-and-jobs outlook. Well, unless you're comfortable with: "Automation could drive an increasing polarisation, with high and low-skill workers hanging on even as the middle of the labor market is hollowed out." That said - "further research is needed," especially the impact of robots on specific geographies/industries.

Overworked businessman


Speaking of the Black Friday discount suckers wanted binge, when it comes to smart TVs, isn't it about time to admit they aren't very smart? When the FBI has to issue a warning like this one:

The FBI recommends placing black tape over an unused smart TV camera, keeping your smart TV up-to-date with the latest patches and fixes, and to read the privacy policy to better understand what your smart TV is capable of.

My analog TV looks pretty intelligent right about now... Meanwhile, I got some holiday coal in my email stocking:

Speaking of so-called "dumb" devices that work perfectly and do everything you need them to do, I got the following email from Roku about my so-called end-of-life devices:

We see that you own a classic Roku player that’s many generations behind our newest devices. We’re reaching out to let you know that, as of November 15th, this Roku player will no longer receive new software updates.

Hey, at least Roku resisted the urge to use the word "primitive," and went for a softer/software landing with "classic" instead. I suppose Roku's latest next-gen devices will file my taxes and do my laundry? Meanwhile, Kurt flagged a buzzword we should all be wary of:

Finally, tough news for grammarians and those trying to stop Atlas from Shrugging:

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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