Enterprise hits and misses - Data Privacy Day gets breached, and IBM places its leadership bet

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed February 3, 2020
This week - Data Privacy Day comes and goes, leaving a trail of breaches and debates in its wake. IBM does the CEO shuffle, and evokes salty reactions. The diginomica team hits the enterprise tarmac; explainable AI gets a wake-up call. Plus: your weekly whiffs.


Lead story - Data Privacy Day - CEOs weigh in on tech's responsibility, does it matter?

MyPOV: So Data Privacy Day came and went. Do you know where your data is? Snark aside, I understand why Stuart pushed the issue in Data Privacy Day - CEO perspectives on tech's responsibility towards data protection and the greater good. When the CEOs of Salesforce, Alphabet, Microsoft and Paypal all chime in, let's see what's what. Noting the privacy theme at WEF as well, Stuart writes:

Against the scandals of recent years, there was predictably enough a consensus point of view that there is a need for the tech sector to be seen to take a proactive stand.

But what does that proactive stance entail exactly? What is the role of regulation? Is GDPR a workable template for the U.S.? And when does regulation over-reach, turning the tech market into a nightmare deluge of we 've-updated-our-privacy-policy-again email blasts from Hades standstill? That's enough to keep diginomica's writing cabal busy for the next century decade, but Stuart gives it a go. He cites Keith Block, co-CEO of Salesforce, who nailed down the U.S. privacy conundrum:

In the United States it would be terrific if we had a national data privacy law; instead we have data privacy by zip code which is not a good outcome.

I'm with Stuart on this: Microsoft's Satya Nadella's call for a rethink of "value exchange around data and privacy" in today's business models and beyond is perhaps the most interesting thing here. Getting fine-tuned about what data we give - and what we get back - is a Davos-worthy thinkfest. Though there is the obvious risk that in these models, privacy becomes a luxury option, while have-nots broker data for subsistence. On the bright side, that's a dystopia we haven't fallen fully into - yet.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. The diginomica crew was on the event circuit again, making ourselves pesky nuisances useful. Phil and I teamed up to take on the ZohoDay analysis event:

More ZohoDay content to follow, including a roundup from the inimitable Brian Sommer. And yeah, it's time to crunch some numbers again:

Brian and I returned to our stomping ground at the Acumatica Summit:

I know Phil wrote this just to trick me into commenting: SAP, Cornerstone join launch of blockchain-based 'Internet of Careers'. It's not gonna work this time Phil; I love the blockchain - bring on another pre-production pilot! Finally, Martin "splunks" for a use case: Allied Irish Banks expands its Splunk use to track customer experience pain points.

Jon's grab bag - "If Jeff Bezos isn't safe, no one is." Kurt extends this question to the enterprise in Lessons from the Bezos phone hack - a corner case or an early warning for enterprises? Stuart does analytical target practice on Zuck again in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's big ask - don't like me, understand me!:

I’m irresistibly reminded of a petulant teen heading to his bedroom to slam the door in protest at annoying parental authorities...

That was too easy Stuart - but lyrically satisfying nonetheless.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - IBM changes leadership - but will it be relevant?

MyPOV: Was IBM's CEO change big news? Perhaps - but we won't know for a while. If IBM transforms into a highly relevant player again, then yes. TechCrunch's Ron Miller was on the story early in Arvind Krishna will replace Ginni Rometty as IBM CEO in April:

IBM announced today that the board of directors has elected IBM senior vice president for Cloud and Cognitive Software Arvind Krishna to replace current CEO Ginni Rometty.

Krishna reportedly drove the massive $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat at the end of 2018, and there was some speculation at the time that Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst was the heir apparent, but the board went with a more seasoned IBM insider for the job, while naming Whitehurst as president.

I was waiting on a salty take from Phil Fersht of HfS Research. I didn't have to wait long (IBM changes leadership just in time to survive in today's punishing IT services market). Fersht:

The appointment of Arvind Krishna, the architect of IBM/Red Hat, signified its full-throttle scramble to take the Global 2000 into the hybrid cloud.

Makes sense- though a "scramble" may not be the best way back to relevance. Fersht goes further:

Over the years, IBM has moved from a trusted dominating force to a whale gradually bleeding out as IBM Watson became somewhat less relevant in a world where business leaders were struggling to make RPA work, and newer faster rivals in the mid-tier started eroding their market share with competitive pricing and flexible delivery. Above all, IBM needed a clear vision, one that could cut through the digital drivel of the pre-occupied buyer mindshare.

All righty then. My view is that this leadership combo (cloudy insider + cloudy insider/outsider) is about the best gambit for relevance IBM could have made. But whether that leads anywhere good remains to be seen. As for Rometty's legacy, she placed some expensive bets that haven't come due yet. A full accounting of her accomplishments (or not) will have to wait - though, for now, IBM's Vijay Vijayasankar has some leadership lessons to share (Watching the second CEO transition at IBM).

Honorable mention

  • How Human Trust Varies with Different Types of 'Explainable AI' - Over at the New Stack, Kimberly Mok explains the unexplainable, so to speak. And why the obsession with AI performance hurts the need for explainability.
  • Imperiled information - Two enterprising Harvard students show how aggregating data on the dark web from multiple hacks makes us vulnerable in very unpleasant ways.
  • 5 SOW Essentials to Make You Look Smart - The dreaded statement of work. UpperEdge advises buyers on how to avoid getting locked into cruddy, project-crushing clauses hold the vendors to account.
  • The Real Serverless Revolution - RedMonk's Stephen O'Grady flexes his analytical chops again. How's this for an intellectual chicken bone to gnaw on? "The real question now about serverless then is not about the technology, but whether its pay-only-when-it’s-on economic model is about to do exactly the same thing that the cloud’s did before it."
  • Wawa Breach May Have Compromised More Than 30 Million Payment Cards - Hey, at least Wawa has a good excuse for this massive breach. As Krebs on Security reports: "These upgrades are disruptive and expensive, and many fuel station owners are putting them off until it is absolutely necessary." Gas is cheap; integrity on the other hand...

Overworked businessman


I know you've all been waiting for my Super Bowl ad review. Jeep's Groundhog Day mashup was fab; otherwise I was a grouch.

This whiff was too-tough-to-call:

I got a kick out of Sprint's latest gaffe: Sprint Exposed Customer Support Site to Web.

Krebs On Security recently contacted Sprint to let the company know that an internal customer support forum called “Social Care” was being indexed by search engines.

Gotta love "indexed social care." Microsoft had a similar gaffe, but even more embarrassing. If Microsoft can't configure Azure correctly, how can anybody else? (Microsoft's explanation/pseudo-apology glossed over that incredibly serious fact, floating "misconfigurations happen" flotsam instead). The "Data Privacy Day" irony wasn't lost on Krebs:

Both the Microsoft and Sprint stumbles are a reminder that billion-dollar companies very often expose this information on our behalf, even when we are doing everything within our power to safeguard it.

More absurdity went down on Data Privacy Day, but it's going to take another week to dissect that one. If you want a tasty morsel preview, start here. 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 - Workday, Salesforce, Zoho, IFS, Acumatica and ServiceNow are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.