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Enterprise hits and misses - employers play the Great Resignation blame game, and retailers face the inflation-wary consumer

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed May 23, 2022
This week - Retailers are next to get the Wall Street treatment, but what is the consumer sentiment? Are employees fickle, or are employers dodgy? Let's play the Great Resignation blame game. Plus: cloud-native is a skills issue, and AI job futures get a twist. As always, your whiffs.

King Checkmate

Lead story - Fickle employees or troubled employers? Playing the Great Resignation blame game

Last week, Brian went to four restaurants. Three were closed due to staffing shortages. So, Brian got hangry inspired to write Fickle employees or troubled employers? Playing the 'Blame Game' in the Great Resignation.

For those employers who shift the blame for staffing woes onto their supposedly-flighthy workers, Brian has advice: rethink. Beyond the typical flaws of pushing employees back to the office when it's not necessarily safe or even necessary, Brian lays out other self-defeating organizational behaviors, such as:

  • Managers who can’t plan are exasperating employees with overly numerous fire drills and other ‘emergencies’
  • Firms who offer a market wage but expect people to work large amounts of uncompensated overtime
  • Employers requiring employees to use obsolete or aged technology that won’t help their career Companies that offer career paths but these paths only see glacial movement

But hold up - can modern HR tech, policies, and recruiting practices improve this problematic state of affairs? Brian gets into that in How to stop playing the 'Blame Game' in the Great Resignation (2/2). HR vendors are here to help, but Brian seems to have an aversion to marketing bombast be wary:

They can’t wait to rush you with new cure-all technologies to solve an array of workforce maladies. They’ve got remedies for employee engagement, employee experience, culture fit, succession planning and so much more. Oh, and if those don’t quite fit your needs, they also have specially fortified applications complete with advanced technologies like machine learning, big data, smart analytics and more.

Why is Brian skeptical? Because tech can't solve for organizational maladies:

Buying a solution before knowing what problem you want to solve is a waste of time and money. And, worse, it might not work... If your firm actually talked to employees (not just send them an annual survey or make them use a digital mood ring app), you might learn what they really want.

How can companies avoid Brian's ire? Through more effective practices, such as deeper recruiting, focus groups/employee sentiment, valid career paths, and shifting gears as employee needs change. Example: do restaurants/retailers struggling to hire/retain employees need to revisit college/educational benefits? Brian concludes:

To get these operational results, business leaders have to engage with their workforce and find out what they want and need.

Of course, retailers have a fresh serving of market adversity to contend with. Which brings us to...

Big retailers grapple with consumer sentiment - with rising inflation and a convergence of global problems, how are consumers responding? As Stuart updates, via these surprisingly downbeat earnings reports, consumers are skittish:

diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Spring events hit their peak as the diginomica team hit the road again (or fired up the virtual event screens): 

  • Coupa Inspire EMEA - nudging ESG from reporting to action - Phil hit the road for Coupa Inspire. Yep, ESG was a big theme, but as Phil warns, we can't stop at beefed-up reporting: "For Coupa, the emphasis therefore has been on helping companies make sourcing decisions that proactively change the diversity mix and advance sustainability across their spend."
  • Tableau Conference 2022 - building a data culture to tackle food poverty at Feeding America - Stuart filed his first Tableau Conference missive, with more to follow. How about this for a customer-cited analytics benefit? "[We are] able, for the first time really, in our network to see our community, understand where food insecurity is the greatest, what populations, what neighbourhoods, what communities are experiencing that."
  • FutureStack 2022 - New Relic extends observability into security - In a defining year for New Relic, Phil corrals the user conference takeaways: "There are five headline announcements, the most notable of which is an entry into the security market with the expansion of the New Relic One observability platform to add vulnerability management."
  • Zendesk Relate - how conversational CRM is changing the hotel experience - For years, "chats" with brands had, at best, a disconnected result. But as Phil validates in these use cases, that's changing: "Once the right processes are in place and working well, the conversations can start to flow. Because everything is connected, these are no longer isolated transactions but instead each interaction becomes an opportunity to engage the customer and discover what else they may need."

Post-game coverage - the event might be over, but the use cases (and analysis) roll on:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables - a triple play by Derek:

Jon's grab bag - Can we hedge our crypto-speculate-or-bust-risk with state-sponsored digital currencies? Chris examines the pros/cons in Will CBDCs solve crypto’s problems? Or make traditional finance even worse? Mark also looked at financial industry disruption, via the use case Opening up innovation - Société Générale banks on Red Hat to accelerate software development.

Gary filed a nifty healthcare use case, Medical start-up uses AWS machine learning to turn 2D patient scans into 3D printed models.  Finally, Chris assessed one of the biggest AI impediments: talent (IBM - poor AI skills undermining UK leadership ambitions).

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • Here’s what Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s tell us about the state of the American consumer - I like this retail roundup - without sensationalism, lessons drawn from four key players. The news isn't lovely, but spending shifts are different than no spending at all.
  • Skills and security continue to cloud the promise of cloud-native platforms - Before companies pat themselves on the back for being "cloud native," they better have the skills to back it up. Joe McKendrick also shares a warning about the supposed panacea of microservices: "If you think it's going to take a bad application and make it good, then you're going to be disappointed. ."
  • Senators Urge FTC to Probe Over Selfie Data - I picked this not to hammer the algae dwellers swell ethicists over at, but because this awkward face-off between under-educated lawmakers and technically savvy identity merchants is sure to continue. Brian Krebs has the update.
  • CFO perspectives on leading agile change - McKinsey nails down another CFO-in-transition keeper: "Our wide-ranging conversations revealed a high degree of consensus about both the benefits and challenges of an agile transformation. Benefits include increased transparency, better teamwork among leaders, and an evolved role for the CFO. The important issues to solve include prioritization, performance management, and reporting.."
  • 5 Key questions to ask on SAP's reimagined serices and support portfolio - Yeah, the all-caps-headline is an unwanted look (I retyped in lower case for you; I'm good like that), but if you're tracking SAP, UpperEdge just published a strong series of posts to coincide with the SAP Sapphire season.
  • The tech transformation imperative in retail - Upon further review, an AI-in-healthcare piece didn't hold up to quality control, so McKinsey to the rescue with another timely piece for this week's retail focus.
  • AI’s Threats to Jobs and Human Happiness Are Real - I don't know much about AI expert Kai-Fu Lee, but I already kind of like this guy. Supposedly, he's an AI optimist, yet in the short term, everyone's job is in the crosshairs. Whether you agree or disagree, the clash of ideas inside Lee's own mind are useful - both for our own skills development, and team skills planning. Here's a flavor for Lee's thinking:

    If you’re a software engineer and most of your job is looking for pieces of code and copy-pasting them together—those jobs are in danger. And if you’re doing routine testing of software, those jobs are in danger too. If you’re writing a piece of code and it’s original creative work, but you know that this kind of code has been done before and can be done again, those jobs will gradually be challenged as well... The ideal combination in most professions will be a human that has unique human capabilities managing a bunch of AI that do the routine parts.

Overworked businessman


Headline of the week honors is neck-and-neck between Strange 'droning noise that makes locals' bodies vibrate' spreads to village nearby and Grubhub’s Disastrous ‘Free Lunch’ Promotion Shows Why the Gig Economy Is Broken (you don't even need to read the piece to immediately grok how Grubhub botched this). Oh, and this happened:

It was another cranky week in the wannabe metaverse:

Brian Sommer attended a more serious metaverse briefing, but came away equally chafed:

Sorry Brian, but what you just experienced is immutable. But hey, at least we can try shifting places. See you in the hologram...

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.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, King Checkmate © mystock88photo - all from Adobe Stock.

Disclosure - Workday, New Relic, ServiceNow, Coupa and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing. Kinaxis is a diginomica event hub partner for its Kinexions 2022 event. SAP paid the bulk of my travel expenses to attend SAP Sapphire Orlando 2022.

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