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
- AI has a black box explainability problem - can outcome analysis play a role? - Neil takes a considered look at one of AI's biggest adoption hurdles. Outcome analysis has potential, but Neil's last line, on AI addressing its own explainability problem by policing itself, is a bit of a teaser. Neil tells me he'll return to this explainability theme with more on that...
- Make a New Year resolution to add this to your next enterprise software RFI/RFP - A new year means new RFPs. Brian, who never met a vendor RFP he couldn't
skewer to within an inch of its natural-born lifedissect, has you covered.
- Misericordia University scores top marks in website accessibility test - online accessibility laws are becoming a serious issue for compliance. But - getting out in front of this is also the right thing to do - for all readers. Jess shares a terrific use case from AudioEye's ML-powered online accessibility software: "Since working with Audioeye, Misericordia has now boosted its accessibility score to around 95%, compared to a current education sector average of around 71%."
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Why purpose transformation matters as much as digital transformation - CEO learnings from Unilever and Salesforce - Stuart did one better than me this week; he found something he liked at CES: "The history of Unilever - and its successes around diversity and equality - is a timely reminder that this is not just the 'woke' posturing that some cheap shots attest."
- Scout RFP co-founder on the year ahead as part of Workday - Phil delves into one of last year's more intriguing acquisitions: " Workday's sudden entry into the sourcing market took many by surprise, but it is a natural extension of its existing procure-to-pay offering... But it would be wrong to think of Scout RFP as simply an add-on to the existing product."
- If SaaS companies are serious about customer success, they better learn from Coupa's community intelligence approach - This 2019 standout from my enterprise forays is out of the oven, documented by customer use cases and screen shots.
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- How CircleCI speeds DevOps cycle times with CI/CD automation - Phil
- Behind the news - Plex's CEO on why their standalone cloud MES points to a best-of-breed SaaS enterprise - Jon
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":
CES Gadget Show: Toilet Paper Robot and Tracking the Elderly https://t.co/oqsfrPVgDU
-> as long as you call this the "gadget show," and not "the global stage for innovation," I'm fine with it. Too bad that's not what they call it themselves. Yep, it's gadget time again....
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 6, 2020
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:
CES shows us a future with flying cars — but can’t avoid the reality of climate change, pollution and war https://t.co/vVGE7dKn04
"Take AoAir’s Atmos face mask, a clear plastic bubble that fits over your nose and mouth."
-> IMO the most important thing at CES to reckon with
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 10, 2020
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:
Nice email pitch: "Venture capitalists don’t care about smart toothbrushes. Corporate software is sexier." That's enough for me to click on your PR email - well played :)
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 10, 2020
- ‘Designed by clowns supervised by monkeys’: Boeing releases internal messages that disparage 737 MAX, regulators - Is it too soon to say Boeing is unraveling before our eyes?
- Travelex 'being held to ransom' by hackers said to be demanding $3m - If anyone still dismisses ransomware as annoyance, time to stop: "The issue has forced banks who use Travelex’s foreign exchange services to stop taking online orders for currency, affecting Sainsbury’s Bank, Tesco Bank, Virgin Money and First Direct."
- 5 Tips on How to Build a Strong Security Metrics Framework - "In practice, only a few organizations actually realize significant benefits from security metrics." That's concerning when you consider the Jon Reed corollary: "no metrics, no funding."
- The new science of talent, from roles to returns - McKinsey discusses how the urgency of digital business models is making the existing talent problem more intense.
- If they sold enterprise software on television - Brian Sommer finally uncorks a collaboration that you won't see on late night television, but then again, you never know: "Order right now and WE’LL EVEN TOSS IN SOME GDPR!"
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?
Without Bullshit - “Can I pick your brain?” - https://t.co/4xifjGP9nC
-> always seems like getting your brain picked would be a painful exercise :)
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 10, 2020
Evidently not many:
Passionately hate this expression. If you want help/advice, be more specific. Make it simpler for others to help you. That’s just common courtesy. https://t.co/vpYRosQ41T
— Jelena Perfiljeva (@JelenaAtLarge) January 10, 2020
Especially on weekends:
— ⒹⒺⓃ•Ⓗ ㋡ (@dahowlett) January 12, 2020
This week especially, rooting against Amazon isn't hard:
Amazon is "uberizing" last mile delivery at the expense of their customers, using their own overworked noob delivery drivers. That's my misdelivered stuff on the floor there, inside a locked residence I have no access to. At #NRF2020 smart startups are trying to solve last mile pic.twitter.com/IrXJapEtjh
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 12, 2020
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:
5G Is Going To Screw Up Weather Forecasts, Meteorologists Warn https://t.co/HuVYONRX7r
-> just a minor glitch for the 5G marketing machine, they'll find a way to downplay this - livestreaming video is way more important than accurate weather and climate science :)
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 11, 2020
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.