Enterprise hits and misses - the Coronavirus era changes consumer expectations, while CIOs press for IT cost optimization

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed April 27, 2020
This week - Coronavirus changes consumer expectations, provoking brands to solve their omni-woes. CIOs press for IT cost optimization as downturn pressures mount. Virtual events keep the vendor news moving, and TIBCO gets an epic Zoom meeting crasher.


Lead story - How Corona-life is changing customer expectations, and compelling brands to find a better way

MyPOV: COVID-19 applies the industry squeeze - then it's up to brands to respond. Top question: is this a permanent shift in business practices? Stuart tackles that in "What we're seeing right now will not go away" - BT CEO Philip Jansen on how COVID-19 has changed customer expectations forever. He quotes Jansen:

My aim is to invest more heavily on the back of this crisis. My aim is to look for opportunities for the company and think long term for all our stakeholders, to see whether or not we can grab new opportunities out of what has been a really, really difficult situation.

For other brands, COVID-19 has lit a fire under those omni-pursuits. Stuart has a prime example in For Bed, Bath & Beyond, an unexpected COVID-19 symptom - omni-channel retail acceleration...finally! The bad news? Coronavirus has shuttered stores and knocked down sales.

On the good tip: Bed Bath & Beyond's mobile app orders are up over 75% year-on-year. And after dragging heels on store pick-ups, that's all changed. As Stuart notes: "It is grimly ironic that it took a pandemic finally to kick-start some urgency." This doesn't ensure a bright future, but for a brand Stuart tagged with "Bed, Bath and beyond hope" just a few months ago, crisis may yet prove opportunity.

Kurt examines the food supply chain in The critical role of IT in assuring food safety in pandemic times:

The head of analytics for New Zealand's NZX exchange believes that the pandemic will cause food consumers to demand greater traceability that documents how food was produced and compliance with safety regulations.

Which leads us smack into one of blockchain's most overhyped - yet also promising - use cases. Kurt again:

I remain skeptical that blockchain will become mainstream in the food industry due to the overhead of implementing a blockchain system from field or feedlot to shelf.

Kurt is rightly cautious about flogging blockchain here. The issue at hand is food traceability, a problem that demands more tech intervention. How blockchain will figure into that remains to be seen.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • The cloud and how to make a mess of it - Looks like Martin has diginomica title of the week just about nailed down. "What constituted OK practice in an on-premise environment is very definitely ‘not Best Practice at all when it comes to operations in the cloud."
  • Tech vendors work on apps to certify your COVID-19 immunity - Add Phil to the few who can write soberly sensibly about blockchain potentials, without falling prey to the twin perils of feel-good hyperbole or close-minded cynicism.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style

Infor Inspire - virtual event redux - Derek was on hand for Infor's virtual Inspire event, pulling in a CEO take and a customer case:

At Inforum 2019, Infor was already talking up changes in cloud application service delivery. That sure seems like a timely push now...  Whatever you think of SAP, they sure know how to liven up an enterprise quarantine. Den was on the case with this twofer: 

My quick hit on Morgan's exit: however SAP does a PR pretzel explains this decision, you can never convince me Morgan got a fair shake as co-CEO during this short stint in volatile times. That said, CEO Klein's leadership is informed by customer dialogue, and he seems determined to address product and data platform issues - SAP's thorniest obstacles.

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Neil takes on an analytics darling in  Is digital transformation dependent on pervasive analytics? Not really. Finally, Den gets to the data essence of a looming B2B problem in Unpaid bill tracking from Sidetrade reveals early pandemic impact.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Effective IT Cost Optimization Starts with Internal Alignment - by Len Riley

MyPOV: Newsfeed readers liked this UpperEdge IT management primer by Riley. Gist: in uncertain times, cash is king, and cost control starts from within. But managing It cost across multiple stakeholder groups isn't exactly a picnic. As Riley notes, it's a new level of hot for the CIO hot seat:

Given the typical size of the IT budget relative to other departments, IT will be under tremendous pressure to reduce costs.  They will also need to lead the debates on fixed vs. variable and discretionary vs. non-discretionary spend.

Final pro tip from Riley: don't go directly to the vendor community as your first step in a cost reduction initiative.

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


My top COVID-WTF headlines of the week:

So, TIBCO had a wacky meeting, even by TIBCO standards:

(Conan crashes TIBCO)

Speaking of whiffs, I'm having some issues with our site back end at the moment, so I've got to cut this short. I'm going to try pouring some Lysol on it and see if that solves anything. Catch you next week...

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, Infor, Acumatica, ServiceNow and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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