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
- eSIMs to enable CIOs to deliver IoT and savings - Mark Chillingworth gets the CIO buzzword bingo card out, and breaks down the latest - "A Beecham Research survey for network hardware and services provider Sierra Wireless found that organizations could not access cost-effective and reliable connectivity to make IoT successful. Inevitably, businesses that have invested in and backed eSIM believe their technology is the answer."
- Reverse supply chains and sustainability - making the business case for retail returns - Most retailers dread returns, but as Neil says, change is afoot: "IKEA is transforming into a circular business. They assessed more than 9,500 products to determine how well existing products in the IKEA offering fulfill circular product design principles: 'This is a huge change that impacts every aspect of what we do: from how we meet customers to which products and services we develop.'"
- Let's not get ahead of ourselves! Balancing the bleeding edge with practical adoption remains a huge enterprise tech challenge - Stuart asks: "In a period of economic turbulence and geopolitical uncertainty, where we’ve already seen buying cycles extend as budget holders check and recheck every aspect of the business case, are organizations as keen on next gen tech as the sell side would want them to be?" My answer: no. Not unless it solves a pressing cost or revenue problem. Which means an enterprise back seat in 2023 for the Metaverse, Web3, and ChatGTP - albeit with industry-specific exceptions. As in George Lawton's piece on the Industrial Metaverse: How the Industrial Metaverse will be different to the consumer one - and why it matters.
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- mmhmm CEO Phil Libin - 'No one should ever work on something they think is stupid' - Phil on his sit down with Libin: "For organizations like Libin's that have no offices and are highly distributed — 88 people work on mmhmm, spread across 16 countries — a different approach is essential. Rather than constantly checking in on employees, it uses a high-trust model that leaves people to get on with their work." Let people get on with their work? Now that's a disruptive concept...
- Samsara’s Chief People Officer, Steve Pickle, on ‘being intentional about culture, purpose and experience’ - "Whilst some companies in the B2B technology market are suffering layoffs and experiencing headwinds as a result of the current economic climate, the same can’t be said of Samsara - a vendor that is focused on becoming the ‘system of record for physical operations’."
- Zendesk sees AI driving uptake of Immersive CX - Phil: "But despite the current interest in generative AI tools such as chatGPT, Zendesk isn't suggesting that AI can go as far as compiling the response to the customer — not yet, anyway. The current technology can only create very generic answers, he explains."
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- Leeds Building Society banks on better service performance with Dynatrace AIOPs - Mark Samuels
- How McLaren found the right formula for F1 success with Splunk - Chris
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
My top seven
- Analysts cut 2023 tech spending predictions as consumers hold back - Over at TechCrunch, Ron Miller examined the tech spending predictions backtrack: "Both IDC and Gartner have cut their fall predictions in the new year, with Gartner now predicting modest 2.2% growth for 2023, with IDC a bit more optimistic at 4.4%... Gartner says it’s the consumer side of the ledger that’s become a drag on their predictions, while the firm expects enterprise buyers to increase expenditures in the coming year." ZDNet has another angle on this story, though I thought their headline was on the misleading side: Tech spending is still going up. Here's where the money is going (yes, enterprise tech spending is still going up, but analyst predictions backtracking is a notable part of the story).
- While layoffs keep coming, so far Apple has steered clear - Another from Ron Miller, which includes an analysis of Apple's approach, along with an unpleasant-but-necessary roundup of the other recent tech layoffs.
- Microsoft has laid off entire teams behind Virtual, Mixed Reality, and HoloLens - Microsoft's unfortunate 10,000 layoffs included a broad swath of Metaverse-related projects, effectively killing them (for now). I wonder if Accenture would care to revise their breathless Metaverse predictions right about now - especially given Microsoft should be an early adopter, given its gaming industry play.
- T-Mobile data breach shows API security can't be ignored - "53% of security and engineering professionals reported their organizations experienced a data breach of a network or app due to compromised API tokens."
- Why Do Digital Transformations and ERP Implementations Cost Too Much Time and Money? - Given the revised predictions example above, it's a good week for this Eric Kimberling reminder: "Building on the concept of vendor self-interest is this concept of industry analyst and industry data that further mislead and further mismanages expectations that organizations have as it relates to their digital transformation."
- What do customers want? Technology professionals' crash courses in delivering better CX - ZDNet's Joe McKendrick unravels CX conundrums: "Many tech professionals lack the knowledge and skill to design a better experience. They want to work with specialists who can help, but often budget constraints prevent effective engagement."
- 24 Seriously Embarrassing Hours for AI - Gary Marcus has your feel-good AI news roundup.
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?
T-Mobile suffers massive data breach that exposes personal data of 37 million customers https://t.co/6uGPZnufbG
"T-Mobile has suffered yet another data breach"
-> via iC... T-Mobile much better at collecting $ for customers than protecting customer data...
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 21, 2023
It's pretty easy for the virtual pie in face to CNET, but I did it anyhow:
c'mon - at least the stories got out quickly and provided search engine fodder. Extensive factual mistakes can always be corrected by humans later lolz https://t.co/fqso0ESqAj
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 18, 2023
I don't think this bots-write-articles-for-SEO thing is going to work as well as some seem to think:
Inside CNET’s AI-powered SEO money machine https://t.co/8ssickH7Cb
"But the robot articles published on CNET don’t need to be “good” — they need to rank highly in Google searches"
-> if you churn out machine crud I don't like your search chances long term.
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 21, 2023
On a lighter note, I'll leave you with some free business wisdom from my email inbox:
"Adaptability is the new stability."
More business wisdom gold for 2023 from the PR pitch inbox - potent insights we can all use.
Can I get that on a coffee mug or something?
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 5, 2023
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.