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Enterprise hits and misses - blockchains are mutable, sentient AI is debatable, and retailers face loyalty and price tensions

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 5, 2022
This week - will retailers salvage a volatile 2022 with a holiday surge? Plus: blockchain security gets called out, as does TikTok on data privacy. Big tech is still quiet on data privacy, and supply chain leaders face the analytical whip. As always, your weekly whiffs.


Lead story - Will the holidays boost the slumping Vaccine Economy?

MyPOV: Shopping behavior is elusive: yes, consumers have returned to stores, but they're spooked by inflation.

Consumers are looking for digital convenience - not long lines and out of stock shelves. Can the holidays bring cheer to retail adversity? Stuart parses early data in Plan early for Christmas! Salesforce research suggests the retail Holiday season in the Vaccine Economy remains complex. Is the slowdown in digital sales growth an early holiday wake up call? Not necessarily, says Stuart:

Those levels of growth were never going to be sustained once customers could once again browse the real world aisles.  Rob Garf, GM of Retail at Salesforce, notes that, based on research  data,  Q1 saw a 3% decline in digital growth.

Stuart quotes Garf:

Looking at this in isolation you say, 'Wow, the digital growth is done. It's behind us!'. That's not necessarily true...What is important to call out here is this negative 3% growth is based on a Q1 of 2021 of triple digit growth across many categories. We're looking at a high baseline.

That puts pressure on retailers, however. Get digital right? Get stores right? Not enough. Fuse the two. The potential payoff? "Garf argues that retailers with bricks-and-mortar presence will grow 1.5 x faster than those without." Stuart:

The challenge now, as noted on many occasions on diginomica, is to achieve that elusive omni-channel balance between online and offline, with physical stores heavily back in the mix.

How should we apply that to holiday expectations? Factors include:

  • Expect a longer-than-ever holiday shopping season, rather than a "Black Friday" style blowout.
  • Expect a discounted environment this year, with higher inventory levels than recent years past.
  • Want "loyalty? Get your price right - consumers are more price-conscious than ever.

Yes, we may see some early NFT efforts tied to the holidays, though with consumers still in the first stages of NFT awareness, don't expect a big NFT holiday surge (looks like I have another year before I have to explain NFTs to my mother). Sustainability, however, is factoring in now: as per Salesforce research,  83% will seek out sustainable brands and products. But how will that square with price sensitivity? Stuart quotes Garf:

Sustainability has been a hot topic, but both retailers and consumers often don't always put their money where their mouth is. But what we are finding is, it is driving loyalty or at least is influencing the purchase decision.

A holiday season full of known unknowns, then. We can expect something different, that's for sure.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

Fresh customer use cases - and lessons learned:

Standout quote:

As Ocado isn’t leveraging third-party technology, it now owns the development of its retail data platform. With the third-party technology it was previously using, Ocado didn't have any control over what it put into the tool, how it looked and what it was giving suppliers. The Tableau-driven platform is much more customizable and supports quick changes. Johnson gave the example of the business wanting to focus on a specific operational KPI, such as availability.

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Derek reports on a major global infrastructure play in G7 leaders announce $600 billion Global Infrastructure and Investment plans. Neil wonders why event lessons aren't being smartly applied in Are virtual conferences on the way out?

Finally, Brian has an ice bucket challennge for services firms advises customers to sharpen their SI evaluations  in Big changes in Professional Services & their clientele - are you asking the right questions? (This week, I also issued the podcast version of our prior breakdown on this topic, with Brian Sommer and Bonnie Tinder, Why aren’t services firms part of the transformation they provide?)

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • Pentagon finds concerning vulnerabilities on blockchain - As I said on Twitter, even if these findings aren't true for all blockchains (and I suspect they aren't), hopefully this puts the kibosh on the absurd techno-drivel assertions of "immutability."
  • TikTok says it's putting new limits on Chinese workers' access to U.S. user data - Yes, TikTok is pretty far away from the enterprise (except for for B2C marketers), but this fits into a broader story on data privacy across borders - and how difficult it is to nail down.
  • Cruise’s driverless autonomous cars start giving rides to paying passengers - Given the PR hits autonomous cars have taken lately (including the broadsides in this column), I have to acknowledge this milestone. Even if a San Francisco taxi that can only go on certain roads is pretty awkward, a technical accomplishment is a technical accomplishment.
  • Top 4 Pitfalls of Software Selection - Third Stage Consulting issues field-tested tips:

    "When you start a software selection process, you should be very clear on the different key performance indicators or metrics (KPIs) that you want to measure and see progress on with this new software. As an organization, ask yourself:

    Is the software giving us what we need as a unique organization?
    Does the cost-benefit realization make sense?"

  • Supply Chain Leaders, Chained to Tradition, Face the Whip - Lora Cecere makes her triumphant hits/misses return, with a typically understated headline (and an essential read, which I found once I built a custom RSS feed so I can track her posts again, now that her site's RSS feed is goners (sigh)).

  • “Sentience” is the wrong discussion to have on AI right now - I won't lie, I find the "is AI sentient?" debate to be popcorn-fun. But when you have ethically-problematic AI systems already running at scale, sentience is definitely the wrong point to focus on.

Overworked businessman


Brian Sommer sparked a vigorous exorcism of PR buzzphrases this week:

My contribution, "immutable" is aired out above. Then there's taking the art-of-the-possible, and inflating it with helium to see how high it will float above reality:

Then there is this one via pal (and enterprise video mentor) Brent Leary I keep forgetting to include:

Hey, maybe it is an incredible time to be a part of CNN, but it does help if you actually have a job there... 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.



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