Enterprise hits and misses - employers vs. the IT talent crunch, SAP, Microsoft and ServiceNow vs. the world?

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed November 11, 2019
This week - the tech talent shortage puts pressure on employers - but are they playing their skills cards right? A notable post on shifting enterprise software alliances gets the punditry speculating. Event season rolls on, and so do we. But some drivers run into problems in the whiffs section.

Lead story - US IT jobs market looks to be supply limited - by Kurt Marko

MyPOV: Nothing gets a (cow)chip on my shoulder stick in my craw quite like companies claiming they can't find qualified tech workers, while overlooking diverse talent pools, apparently beyond their imagination or resolve. So I read Kurt's latest missive with interest. He quotes a recent report by Janco Associates:

The rate of increase in the number of new IT positions is slowing down due to the difficulty in finding qualified candidates.

But Kurt wants to know: is this a genuine shortage, or a mismatch between the tech skills needed and the available supply? Multiple employment reports lead Kurt to this conclusion:

The BLS figures suggest that employers are having trouble finding suitable candidates for new jobs and are building up an inventory of unfilled positions.

Kurt's asserts that unfilled positions hinder economic growth.

It's tough to bemoan a job market that's too robust, but when the hiring process for tech positions stretches out to a quarter or more, it becomes a constraint on growth and the execution of strategic projects.

I'd add that skills shortages actually put projects in peril, particularly those of the next-gen/digital variety, where in-house staff can't quickly compensate. Kurt points out that boosting salaries only works to a point. At some point, scarcity kicks in. Salaries may not lure the top consultants at any rate.

What to do? Kurt sings my tune here:

Business leaders should redouble any existing training programs and actively recruit those within their organizations with solid technical backgrounds that could be adapted to address today's IT problems.

Exactly. With all the lip service to talent, companies seem to think you can throw money at it. Once you've tried that, you throw up your hands and bemoan the shortage. But the real talent differentiators are those who find creative ways to solve their own talent pipeline, whether it's talent marketplaces, apprenticeships, letting go of obsessions with on-site workers in favor of virtual teams, or perhaps the Zoho extreme of creating your own university (all of which have been documented on diginomica).

Talent shortages are real, but the excuses for not solving them remain incredibly weak - and exclude too many.

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 quips:

Jon's grab bag - Jerry parses data that confirms what many of us have felt (with dread/chagrin) for a while: Social media is a threat to freedom and democracy, human rights group warns. Government surveillance and election manipulations are a toxic social media cocktail... On the happier side, technology-for-good gets an unexpected boost via Derek in Using the power of open data in New York City to take on dodgy landlords.

Retail food behemoths aren't done fiddling with technology yet, as Stuart reports in When AI meets the burger and the bean - Starbucks and McDonald's pursuit of personalization. But Stuart, when Starbucks has to grill me my name every time I place my order, that's the fragilistic power of AI cheating on personalization right? I guess I should be chuffed that "Deep Brew" is coming, to free up associates to be my pals. Make that a triple shot please...

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - The Ultimate Enterprise Software Alliance: How SAP and Microsoft Plan to Take over the Enterprise Software Market, by Josh Greenbaum  

MyPOV: It's extremely rare to get an enterprise blog post so brilliant absurd provocative and imagination-jolting that I'm forced to stop what I'm doing and rethink my fundamental views. In one of the most original posts of the year, Josh Greenbaum accomplished all that and more. Josh does several things in one piece:

  1. Connects a bunch of dots in an uncanny way, falling just short of Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory asserting these multi-company executives movements were all orchestrated.
  2. Argues that the recent moves, particularly the new closeness of Microsoft, SAP and, arguably, ServiceNow, create alliances we should be watching closely.
  3. Greenbaum draws bold conclusions/speculations based on those alliances, as in, SAP/Microsoft/ServiceNow "become a formidable force in enterprise software, positioned to sweep aside the likes of Amazon's AWS, Google's GCP, Salesforce.com, and Oracle."

You can debate points one and three till a blockchain project goes live the last mainframe is unplugged. What's important to customers is the second point. We need to understand these alliances because they potentially impact customer choices, platform lock-in, and integration/app compatibility. Kudos to Josh for bringing to bear a narrative that brings all this to a head.

After a point, the "vendor wars" theme becomes tiring and irrelevant to the customers we are trying to serve. But as long as Greenbaum has the popcorn popped, a few points from this Vegas couch:

  1. I reject a "Game of Thrones" model for enterprise software. There will be multiple "winners," and if there aren't, customers will lose.
  2. The needs of verticals and micro-verticals will ensure the enterprise software market of the future will have many successful players, rather than a couple of giants pushing other vendors into submission.
  3. SAP also has a lot of pals at Google; I'm not sure SAP's leadership wants to "sweep" those aside. And I'm not sure the AWS elephant can be swept. Elephants are heavy.
  4. I believe Salesforce and Oracle, while imperfect, have a lot of enterprise apps momentum right now and aren't particularly vulnerable to being pushed aside. Why are the supposed victors in Josh's scenario the ones being hounded, err, empowered by activist investors?
  5. Workday will have something to say about all this. So will many "best-of-breed" SaaS solutions that make all these vendors look long in the tooth.
  6. I don't believe Bob Stutz left Salesforce to build a landing runway at SAP for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. I don't believe SAP is anywhere near ready to surrender their goal of redefining and claiming customer experience via C/4HANA. Offloading a big chunk of that to Microsoft Dynamics CRM might be a fallback, but I'd be shocked to learn it's the current plan.
  7. If SAP has planned all of this, I'll be really impressed. To me they are on the defensive, reeling from a series of questionable moves that leave them trailing in the construction of truly next-gen, large enterprise SaaS ERP (Oracle and Workday have integrated FI/HR SaaS, SAP doesn't. Salesforce and Oracle have (mostly) integrated CX clouds, SAP doesn't - thus Greenbaum's Dynamics CRM + SAP CX scenario). That said I would not underestimate SAP's ability to rebound, or their leadership youth infusion - or their SAP ERP customer base loyalty for that matter. But if this is planned, I owe Mr. Greenbaum a cocktail of his choosing.

And if Microsoft acquires SAP, well, that would make Greenbaum's post look prophetic indeed. Ready for Dreamforce, anyone?

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


So there was this:

Purely coincidentally, Greenbaum was on the case here too:

Another installment in our intelligent algorithmic futures: Twitter's Current Top Trending Hashtags: #forcedanal and #creampie. More "smart" innovations for our legal system to unravel:

Then again, humans don't need much help from smart tech to whiff:

A bonehead alerts authority weighed in:

And the hits keep on coming:

Den is referring to this dandy, via Maggie Fox:

I could do this all day, but I don't want to keep you from your espresso... Happy Veterans Day to our US readers. 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.