Enterprise hits and misses - digital transformation gets a once-over, while Microsoft ups the U.S. privacy stakes

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed November 18, 2019
This week - digital transformation is scrutinized: how do we get to results? Microsoft extends California's pending privacy perks, blockchain gets critiqued, and a Google privacy whistleblower steps forward. As we reel into Dreamforce, I've got a whiff for Apple.

King Checkmate

Lead story - Microsoft's national privacy benefits gesture is welcome as California's 'GDPR avatar' looms - by Stuart Lauchlan

MyPOV: I've been bleating howling into the wind that U.S. consumers are hypocrites who claim to care about privacy, but happily accept convenience, failing to pressure politicians to hold the big data riverboat gamblers Facebook, Google et al to the fire.

Privacy scandals like Equifax, which exposed social security numbers like selfies, go without notable punishment.

But maybe I sold the U.S. consumer a bit short after all.

As Stuart reports, just as California's about to flex its regulatory chops, Microsoft is in on the privacy action, but on a broader scale - extending California's legal benefits to all Microsoft customers in the U.S. Easy PR move? Stuart acknowledges the point:

Some will accuse Microsoft of an easy win here, arguing that its business model isn't as dependent on collating and sharing data to the same extent as, for example, Facebook or Google. Those divisions which do collect data, such as Cortana or Xbox Live, are categorised as service providers, a class of company that gets some leeway under the CCPA.

Stuart sees it differently:

That may be so, but comparing Microsoft's stance on extending GDPR rights to U.S. customers with the equivocation and obfuscation on display from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is telling. And adding Microsoft's voice to the leadership shown on this topic by the likes of Apple and Salesforce is a welcome development.

Yes, it's easier for Microsoft to take this stance than it would be for Facebook or Google. That said, any big tech company lending weight may wake some U.S. consumers out of their privacy apathy. Properly enforced and with the right data design, there doesn't have to be a crummy tradeoff between privacy and convenience/personalization. Still, I don't expect much progress in the U.S. without more political pressure, applied at the ballot box. I see no signs of that coming.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

  • Workday Rising EMEA - getting the right talent in your digital teams - Phil breaks down the developments from Workday Rising in Milan, including Workday's talent marketplace: "Is this a case of a technology vendor getting ahead of itself and pushing customers to go faster than they want or need to? Not at all, says Workday — in fact it's customers that are asking for these capabilities — the talent marketplace was designed with customer input."
  • The Tableau Conference 2019 review - we're taking on data prep, AI-for-BI, and we're talking Salesforce (finally) - My illustrated review of Tableau Conference 2019, including this hot take: "Data analysts might resent being referred to as a bottleneck, especially after all they've done to liberate B.I. from the I.T. quagmire. But truth is truth."
  • Look east as the I.T. center of gravity shifts - Martin reflects on his time with one of Huawei's rotating Chairmen in Shenzhen: "With Huawei being one of the dominant developers and providers of the infrastructure underpinning the next developments – 5G, A.I., ML and computing out to the edge... there are signs that the centre of gravity for computing and I.T. is moving eastwards "

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

And yes, diginomica's wall-to-wall Dreamforce coverage is pending, with our crack editorial team on-the-ground team ready for action. The first batch of pieces will go live Monday night.

Jon's grab bag - Jerry delves into one of the most troubling dark-side-of-AI issues in Globant’s Bill Bronske on fakes, deepfakes and the Internet’s truth crisis. On the optimistic side of tech, Cath argues that "the power of data in helping to solve some of the world's most intractable problems should not be underestimated." She's got stories to back it up in The power of data analytics to deliver objective truth - two social good use case exemplars make the point.

Chris raises problem of blockchain pixie dust sprinkling over every vexing problem overhype in Digital Impact Week Summit - how do we measure tech’s social benefits? If you want to go further down that blockchain rabbithole - before I get the article filed - check my podcast with one of blockchain's notable grouches critics in Debating enterprise blockchains at #CCE19 - criticism and use cases with Steve Wilson of Constellation Research.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - why aren't transformation projects impacting the bottom line?

Advocates of transformation efforts - myself included - would do well to keep McKinsey's warning in mind:

The success rates of large change programs vary widely.

McKinsey takes up the topic in Why isn’t your transformation showing up in the bottom line? How do transformation projects get derailed? McKinsey's team points to two problems:

  1. The bar is set too low via incremental change targets, and poorly-set/too modest performance metrics.
  2. The bar is set high enough, but the proper stakeholders are not pulled in, thus they don't truly own the project.

How to fix? McKinsey says one big key is the role of the finance teams, who can make a big difference in transformation outcomes, "by articulating and validating the link between transformation efforts and long-term value." No arguments - McKinsey noted that finance teams can also go awry but providing too much data.

It's the right time to bear down on transformation results - but not at the expense of a conversation about culture as well. Measuring performance can motivate - but it can also shrivel the soul of an organization sap the motivation of project teams. McKinsey should have gone further on how to involve business users in designing/embracing their own metrics.

Other standouts

  • 5 Proven Ways Manufacturers Can Get Started With Analytics - speaking of measuring results, Louis Columbus bears down on how manufacturers can do just that: "[Manufacturers are] in a tough situation with customers wanting short-notice production time while supply chains often needing to be redesigned to reduce or eliminate tariffs. They're turning to analytics to gain the insights they need to take on these challenges and more."
  • Soft Skills: 6 Nontechnical Traits CISOs Need to Succeed - Dark Reading's Joan Goodchild has a solid collection of advice from CISOs on how they can retain relevance, and maintain security budgets.
  • I'm the Google whistleblower. The medical data of millions of Americans is at risk - The Guardian publishes the rationale of an anonymous Google employee, who rightly called Google out for medical data scraping that should never have happened - without explicit opt-ins. "A federal inquiry has been launched into whether HIPAA protections have been fully followed" - and that's the right outcome.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessman


So this dude claims that a bag of cocaine was accidentally blown into his car - at least we know where the word "blow" comes from now...

Another rough week for hacking: thousands of Disney+ accounts are up for sale on hacking forums. And this setback for Magic the Gathering fans:

This frequent flyer had a big furry setback. As I told Clive, pets are expensive:

Finally, Apple's Phil Schiller says that kids will fail if they use Chromebooks. Want to take a wild guess on Schiller's superior digital learning tool? Yep - his employer's iPads. I guess you can't teach product endorsement ethics on an iPad...

I'll meet Schiller part of the way: there's no doubt the iPad is closer to the future of digital interactivity than a Chromebook. A Chromebook is arguably better for writing, and perhaps for speech-to-text. But cost aside, I'd give a kid an iPad over a Chromebook.

But yeah, cost. Chromebooks are massively cheaper. Here's a thought, Mr. Schiller. Instead of mocking a device that puts tech in children's hands for a third of the price of your tools, how about sacrificing some of your company's Mt.-Everest-size cash stockpiles to put iPads in students' hands who can't afford the devices?

If you're rolling out a massive education program like that at the moment, I apologize. Otherwise maybe just button lips? On the good tip, at least you have the cynic-of-the-week award locked down. Surely there are better hobbies than watching kids fail to prove a point... 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.