Enterprise hits and misses - debating work futures and email, the enterprise cockroach

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed August 30, 2017
This week: debating contingent work, job displacement, and robots in the warehouse. Plus: email, the killer enterprise app that will not die. Your whiffs include my attempt to rename Facebook's enterprise product.

Lead story: Work futures - contingent labor and robots in the warehouse - pieces by Phil Wainewright and Ben Eubanks

MyPOV: Debating the robot apocalypse is fun, but you can line gerbil cages with polemics. We honed in on field examples instead this week, with Ben Eubanks raising questions on contingent labor (Does Intuit's contingent labor claim stand up?). Meanwhile, Phil Wainewright looked at why Ocado's supermarket re-invention includes a robotics warehouse (Ocado put robots in its warehouse. Here's what happened next).

Intuit made headlines with its estimate that 40 percent of the workforce would be contingent labor. Other researchers disagree. Eubanks argues that many of these 40 percent are working "platform" jobs to supplement a long term gig. Eubanks may underestimate the instability and pressure these folks contend with. I see a skills mismatch between many of the rideshare drivers I talk to and the better jobs out there.

Meanwhile, Phil looks at how Ocado's warehouse robots. You should have a look at the pic - robots access all materials from the top, bringing goods to the humans on the edges. Phil didn't dwell on the labor implications in this piece, but it's clear that the humans amongst these machines must be adept at either managing them, or handling whatever exceptions and higher-level service needs are left.

In First the robots will take our jobs, then they'll kill us. Really? Phil takes on Elon Musk's doomsday scenarios, arguing that "AI is just another tool for good or evil - and we have to take responsibility for its impact." Phil's rebuttal doesn't leave him without concerns:

But the elimination of some jobs and the creation of others is uneven, leaving many without the right skills to find new work.

Enterprises have plenty to gain by decreasing that job creation/skills gap. The rest is a sociopolitical debate I won't foist on you here.

Happy children eating apple
Diginomica picks - my top two stories on diginomica this week:
  • Using machine intelligence to protect sensitive data - Kurt continues his low-hype machine learning exploits. In seriousness, security is one of the best "AI" use cases.
  • DSW puts best foot forward with digital in turbulent retail sector - I could have picked several of Stuart's retail missives but I thought this one was a spunky and useful merging of storefronts and omni-channel ambitions.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my two top choices from our vendor coverage:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Got a kick out of Derek's headline, Brexit – UK says it’s great at data protection, hopes that’s enough for EU. Granted, I'm an ugly snarky American potshotter, but it strikes me the EU might not happily go along with the UK's data self-confidence.

Jerry's a tad more rosy on Facebook's enterprise prospects than I am (Workplace by Facebook - the Rx for healthcare providers?), but I concede they have some traction. I have a little treat for "Workplace by Facebook" in the whiffs section. Finally, aren't you sick of retailers cowering to Amazon while serving up weak omni-channel sauce? Then get a load of Amazon can't decorate your living room! Williams-Sonoma CEO styles a digital future, by Stuart. Their CEO Laura Alber, stands up to Amazon like the playground bully that it is:

While Amazon does really so many things really well, have you ever tried calling them and asking them if they could please come refurnish your living room?

Ms. Alber, you had me at "Have you ever tried calling them?"

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
I'm not picking one winner this week, but here's a few keepers and big stories from the enterprise interwebs:


Overworked businessman
Shall we start with a cheap shot from Vegas?

I'm not sure I'd call this a whiff, more like a learning experience: Man from Katy, TX who ordered prostitute discovers that she is his own wife (via Den Howlett)

Fox Sports got its share of grief for portraying the University of Nebraska football program in Children of the Corn horror-style - but it worked for me!

And now, for Facebook... Facebook is feeling very fussy about the branding around their "Workplace by Facebook" product. Thus I had some fun interactions with Facebook PR this week, leading to this tweet:

I *think* Facebook wants to lose the Facebook name for its enterprise solution, so that managers don't assume that they are buying a tool for their co-workers to like each others baby pictures. But as I said to Facebook PR:

If Facebook wanted people to drop Facebook from the name, they shouldn't have called it Workplace.

Does Facebook seriously think it's going to own, or even someday trademark, the word workplace? Which got me thinking: what would have been a better name? I talked with my pal Jen Eckard about this, and she suggested:


Got a nice ring to it, eh?

Over to you, Clive.

This is a truncated "Jon feels the road burn" version of hits and misses, which by definition excludes some worthy content - from diginomica and beyond. If you read an #ensw piece that qualifies, let me know in the comments as Clive 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 - Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - SAP, Oracle, Workday and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.