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Enterprise hits and misses - Davos provokes debates it can't solve, and IT spending gets a consumer tech buzzkill

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed January 23, 2023
This week - Davos stoked the fires of essential tech debates - now we have to solve them. Enterprise tech spending forecasts are still up, but downgraded by consumer tech woes (and layoffs). Can next-gen tech overcome practical (budget) barriers? Your whiffs include... pet fish abusing credit cards.


Lead story - Davos is in the books, but the provocative debates linger

Davos is not what you would call a practical event. This year's sessions evoked the same contradictions: an elite group trying to solve problems that, by definition, require a broader type of participation.

But while the Davos debates may not have been incredibly relevant to your enterprise project, they did tap into issues we will all be reckoning with eventually. See: Davos 2023 - does tokenization solve any real-world problems? Chris is in top form: 

Unless attached to real-world assets – which they represent on blockchains – can digital tokens be said to have intrinsic value themselves, beyond hope of being the notional midpoints in online transactions? Aren’t some tokens merely exotic forms of native Web 3.0 stupidity – bored apes valued at tens of thousands of dollars – especially when so much energy is consumed in the production of… what exactly?

In short, are some aspects of tokenization merely a global game of ‘find the biggest fool’ as the planet burns?

There is an intriguing notion to contend with here: the idea that tokens can capture so-called "digital scarcity". Chris quotes a blockchain panelist:

Blockchain technology creates digital scarcity, versus the internet which creates digital abundance.

For the first time in humanity, we are we are able to achieve digital scarcity. Tokenization is a digital representation of value, meaning that we can upload any kind of values into the digital economy, so tokenization will be the underlying foundation of the digital economy going forward.

There are so many problems with this assertion, starting with the current inability to even test this supposedly achievable concept at any meaningful scale. But it is interesting to move this discussion beyond problematic ties to crypto, which Chris covered off in Davos FinTech - we lost trillions on crypto, but don’t worry it was unregulated! says WEF, the proponents of tokenization-for-digital scarcity have other problem. "Decentalized digital scarcity" is a wonderful dream, but then so is the Wizard of Oz. What we've seen from NFTs so far does not imbue confidence that other decentralized markets will recognize a unique asset from another market - or protect that asset from duplication and mimicry. But I'll give blockchain proponents a nod for keeping this discussion interesting.

Closer to pressing enterprise concerns, Stuart also covered a panel on the issues of industry collaboration, particularly in Europe: Data sharing and how to do it - SAP and Williams Sonoma CEOs argue the case for how to leverage data without harm. Stuart concludes:

[SAP CEO Christian] Klein’s comments on the EU’s attitude to data sharing is something I’ve waited a long time to hear a European tech CEO stand up and say. Of course, we need protections and regulations in place, but at times the EU stance has been excessively draconian and does damage competitiveness. The national sovereign cloud example is the prime offender. While the US can be said to be at the opposite extreme, the validity of what Klein says about it being easier to be a start-up in a data-centric field is something that the Eurocrats in Brussels and beyond need to pay attention to.

I hit on SAP's views on global trends in a non-Davos piece, Business as Unusual... with SAP? One book, eight enterprise megatrends - but should you read it? Davos' full agenda is vast; Stuart addressed the Climate Economy angle in Hands up for Net Zero! Salesforce CEO Benioff's tech rallying call from Davos.

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 - Madeline filed an important story, Hush! Moving past ‘greenwashing’ through effective use of data: "In the end, the integrity and authenticity of the data is what will prevent greenwashing and greenhushing." Chris has a necessary debate with an AI entrepreneur  in AI Bill of Rights - industry should police itself, claims ML company: "What if AI starts to take the place of education, with people already beginning to trust its answers, even when they are provably incorrect?"

Guide Dogs leads with data and flexible working - Finally, Mark Chillingworth broke diginomica's social media accounts because, well, pictures of dogs! But the story doesn't stop there: "Now a genomics database and dog behaviour monitoring enable Guide Dogs to know which dogs will become ideal sighted companions for their service users." Also: useful concept/goal: make 'implicit' data inside an organization 'explicit.'

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Overworked businessman


Headline of the week comes via my diginomica colleague Alex Lee: Pet fish commits credit card fraud on owner using a Nintendo Switch. I don't know what it all means, but it's beautiful nonetheless. So, Microsoft is taking some social shaming for having Sting play for its top leadership in Davos the day before announcing mass layoffs (see: the first paragraph of this article). Fair criticism or not, it led to an all-timer from my backchannel: "Don't stand so close to me."

So... back to T-Mobile - they kind of stink at this data thing, don't they?

It's pretty easy for the virtual pie in face to CNET, but I did it anyhow:

I don't think this bots-write-articles-for-SEO thing is going to work as well as some seem to think:

On a lighter note, I'll leave you with some free business wisdom from my email inbox:

Mugs are on the way... 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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