Enterprise hits and misses - CES gets absurdly real, while retailers chase that elusive omni-channel balance in NYC

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed January 13, 2020
This week - CES 2020 gets (really) absurd, but also serves up a wake-up call. NRF 2020 kicks in - will retailers find that omni-balance before Amazon twists the logistical knife? Also: Boeing gets exposed, ransomware gets worse, and in the whiffs section, brains get picked.


Lead story - The elusive omni-channel retail balance in digital transformation - two exemplars of what happens when it goes wrong  by Stuart Lauchlan

MyPOV: In the tech world, January gets off to an overrated controversial ridiculous monster start with CES Las Vegas. But the retail industry also has a fast turn with NRF 2020 Vision, which kicked off yesterday (I'm on the ground at NRF in NYC now). Just like CES, I expect this show will be chock full of next-gen gimmickry, from shelf-stocking robots to intelligent checkout, from 5G hype balloons to facial recognition. But underneath the techfest is the core struggle - getting that omni-channel balance right. As Stuart writes:

The trick - and it's an elusive one - is how to strike the right mix between offline and online.  Many retailers have grown out real world store networks that have become bloated and held them back. This has resulted in some spectacular offloading of property - see Macy’s as the prime exemplar here - in order to try to find the right balance.

For some firms, it might be too late.

Shall we name names? Well, as Stuart says, things aren't looking so spiffy for Pier 1 (insert your "walking the plank" snark here). But, all is not lost - Stuart points to Forever 21 as a brand that's been through the Chapter 11 gauntlet, closing 350 of its 816 stores around the world. Now, Stuart writes:

[Forever 21 is] refocusing its international strategy around e-commerce with the premise that it can customise the online experience to local market needs more easily, including having systems that can support 95 currencies, 150 local payment methods and localised online checkout in 21 languages.

Forever 21 isn't out of the woods yet, but compared to the woes of Pier 1, they practically look like retail role models. Stuart also updated another less-than-convincing turnaround in Still a case of Bed, Bath and Beyond hope as the retailer's new CEO aims for omni-channel catch-up?

Everything the new CEO is talking about is catch-up for survival, not about investing for next gen retail.

Ouch. At NRF, I'll be on the lookout for more convincing examples of retail transformation - let's see what I find.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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 - Phil riffs on our internal diginomica debates in Why you should banish landing pages from your customer-centric website: "Many practices that used to make perfect sense have now become obsolete, no longer fit for purpose. One of these is the website landing page."

Meanwhile, Den turns wallet-draining entertaining hobby into enterprise relevance with his series, Lessons for enterprise from the scale modeling world - Part 2, where reality bites. Interesting how it all connects in the end: "The introduction of CCPA in California sent shockwaves across the industry."

Best of the rest

Lead story - CES brings ridiculous innovation nobody asked for, and a few wake up calls

MyPOV: They talk about FOMO (Fear of missing out). But there is also "happy I'm missing out":

Of all the gadgetry, I won't lie, the mind-reading stuff makes an impression on me: CES 2020: Mind-reading technology lets you control gadgets and games. Not in a "this will change my life" kind of way, but in a "how the F do they do that" way, and at CES, that's as good as it gets for me. A thoughtful scribe like David Cassel can take an appropriately light-hearted take on the absurdity: Headless Robot Cats, Parallel Realities: CES 2020 and the Shape of Things to Come. In contrast, I thought the serious aspects of CES cut through the gadget noise:

It's too bad the urgency to apply tech for genuine change - rather than for lifestyle accessorization - didn't shine through from Vegas. At least not in the coverage I saw. Then again my bias is clear:

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


So a Spanish reporter triumphantly quit her job live on TV after winning the lottery, only to subsequently learn that her share of the winnings amounted to $5,000. Awkwardness ensues. Question: who likes having their brain picked?

Evidently not many:

Especially on weekends:

This week especially, rooting against Amazon isn't hard:

Haven't heard much about the wonderful world of 5G poised to destroy our email inboxes with life-changing embargoes end human suffering, but hey, two more days to go here, plenty of time:

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. 

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, Coupa, Plex and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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