Lead story - Leading software vendors weigh on generative AI - but what are the roadblocks?
Salesforce and Workday both released notable AI reports. Unlike most shiny new tech toys, customers are not only high on AI - they are hot in pursuit. As Sarah reported in All in for generative AI, but organizational jitters remain - Workday and Salesforce research airs the opportunities and the challenges:
Workday polled 1000 companies from around the globe for its Insights on Artificial Intelligence in the Enterprise 2023 report. It found that more than 90% of respondents - HR, IT and finance professionals - have already invested in AI, with 99% believing there are real business benefits to be had from using such tech.
As Sarah notes, Salesforce uncovered similar data on the marketing/sales side:
Meanwhile Salesforce surveyed over 2,000 sales and service professionals as part of its Generative AI Snapshot Research Series. Some 61% of sales people believe generative AI will help them serve customers better, while a similar percentage reckon it will help them to sell more efficiently. Among service professionals, nearly two-thirds (63%) predict generative AI will help them to serve customers faster.
Oracle had themselves a busy AI week also. I dug into that in Can generative AI make HR more productive - and less biased? A closer look at Oracle's HCM AI announcements:
As so-called "Shadow AI" makes fast and unsettling inroads, with risky potential consequences on data privacy, customers want something better. They expect their trusted vendors to deliver this functionality.
The survey data backs this up. AI may be hot, but it's not to be trifled with either. Sarah's calls attention to adoption:
But, that said, adoption rates remain low - 35% of sales respondents, 24% of service. That’s considerably lower than some other business functions. For example, Salesforce’s research cites 51% of marketers using generative AI. That gap looks likely to continue.
Why the disconnect? In my whirlwind spring tour, I found the adoption reasons cited here, and more: risk/liability management, skills gaps, and ethics/trust. However, with all the lovely talk about generative AI, very little of it is actually shipped in generally available enterprise products right now. The guardrails we are anticipating should boost adoption, but that will come when products ship. For now, I agree with Sarah's point on data readiness:
As with all systems the quality of the data being used will have a big impact on the effectiveness of AI platforms, and 77%of the respondents to the Workday survey felt that this could be a large stumbling block for their organizations. Having an overlying steering committee, like Mastercard has, that looks at data integrity is one way of overcoming this issue.
Can "AI" solve itself here? Can AI help in the laborious aspects of data cleansing - including so-called "federated" solutions that allow the data to reside where it currently exists? To a degree, yes - though I'll point out that in many industries, there is gold in hard-to-wrangle unstructured data, or data in shop floor machines that doesn't communicate nicely, at least not yet.
Just because customers want AI doesn't mean they fully understand what it's good at - and what it's not. Particularly in higher stakes use cases with legal or human consequences (Oracle was a good sport on my pursuit of those questions, when it comes to HR). Vendors can - and should - do a better job of spelling that out. Clarity won't hurt sales - there is no risk of any loss of interest. I have some problems with how AI is positioned right now, but the level of customer interest can't be quarreled with.
Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week
- Want to get digital transformation right? Address what's left behind - Neil turned a field experience on digital transformation into a lessons-learned keeper: "What we hear most about digital transformation is how essential it is, how the business will benefit and certain gee-whiz factors about keeping up. Precious little is devoted to overcoming resistance."
- HR and AI - how pharma firm Moderna prescribes an holistic approach to AI - Does a digital-first approach help with AI? Sarah delves into Moderna: "Although the firm can't control what employees do in their home environment, it believes experimentation, understanding and learning how to write prompts are important, and it has a whole training series around those issues, and is currently working on how to train people to write prompts." Also see: Sarah's HR and AI - how Mastercard credits AI as an enabling technology, delivered with due governance.
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- London calling! Salesforce UKI CEO Zahra Bahrololoumi on AI, new buying cycles and what to spend $4 billion on - Stuart caught up with the Salesforce World Tour in London. The top themes? "Why the UK remains a priority market for Salesforce - and how AI is powering a whole new buying cycle." Also see: Madeline's use case, Heathrow flies high with Salesforce for data, marketing, retail and CX.
- Kinexions 23 – bringing order to complexity - Brian took the midwestern sojourn to the Kinaxis user event, to see where supply chain priorities and ESG intersect: "It’s so refreshing to go to a conference where the vendor isn’t orchestrating every word coming out of its showcase customers. Attendees didn’t get those overly rehearsed infomercial sessions with a vendor person asking a customer “So, how did you come to select our award-winning, industry-leading application software?”
- IFS to acquire Poka - there is no Industry 4.0 without the connected worker - IFS kept me on my toes after IFS Connect: "Connected workers aren't for the factories of the future. It's about today's demand for skills, robotics and data - with generative AI on deck."
Snowflake Summit 2023 - Mark Samuels was all over our Snowflake Summit coverage. My highlight quote pick, from the surprisingly-titled Snowflake Summit - why founder Benoît Dageville was disappointed by the rise of ChatGPT:
Dageville says the ongoing refinement of Snowflake’s Data Cloud and the features the company provides to its customers should go a long way towards silencing anyone who still think of Snowflake as being simply a ‘database company’
Also check: Mark's Snowflake Summit - CrossFit beefs up its business users with a toned approach to data and Snowflake Summit - Snowflake embraces generative AI to help customers create new value from data.
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- ThoughtSpot’s $200m Mode Analytics acquisition - step one to being ‘massive’ says CEO - Chris
- John Lewis Partnership bakes in analytics insight with Tableau - Madeline
- When cloud platforms get a going over, Nutanix-style - Martin
- PTC's pop-up Metaverse - no goggles required! - George ("A pop-up Metaverse generated on the fly by an iPhone"? Give me that over Apple's Vision Pro
technogadget immersion fantasiesoverreach anyday).
Jon's grab bag - Cath raises hard questions in Pride Month - why LGBTQIA+ tech workers still need more than just a poster on the wall once a year - but they are the right questions. Derek assesses another milestone data policy in EU reaches agreement on Data Act - new rules for industrial data use forthcoming. Finally, Barb revisits the thorny-but-essential problem of attribution in Dealtale improves attribution, brings revenue science to marketers - but what about the 'dark funnel'?
Best of the enterprise web
My top seven
- Software giant Anaplan begins layoffs after Thoma Bravo's $10.4B buyout deal - I don't believe I've included a New York Post article in hits/misses before, but for now, I can't find a better one. Question: is Thomas Bravo a skilled curator for its enterprise software holdings? As Brian Sommer wrote via email, "That ought to stir things up in the CPM/EPM world. That’s a lot of people getting cut."
- IBM Plans to Acquire IT Financial Management Leader Apptio: Consequences for the Enterprise IT Market – This news broke as I went to press last week. Hyoun Park's analysis was the meatiest, including recommendations for IBM and Apptio customers.
- Generative AI may help make 'low-code' more 'no-code' - but with important caveats - Has anyone done a better job of Joe McKendrick at nailing down the pros/cons of generative AI coding in the real world, as opposed to the "this is a coding revolution!" PRgasm? "However, software development is a much more complex experience than simply pumping out code, Fairweather adds. 'The generative capabilities we are seeing in language and image models are a small subset of the topics that will need to be modeled for generative AI to take a larger role in automated software development,' he points out. 'Every software system has additional considerations -- like logical and physical system architecture, data modeling, build and deployment engineering, and maintenance and management activity -- that still appear to be well beyond current generative AI capabilities.'"
- Understanding How Human Psychology Leads to Resistance to Change During Digital Transformation - Eric Kimberling's getting-real-about-digital-transformation tour rolls on. I was in the hot seat on his show last week - replay forthcoming.
- Adobe indemnity clause designed to ease enterprise fears about AI-generated art - Ron Miller with more context on Adobe's (smart) AI decisions of late.
- ChatGPT Lawsuits Against OpenAI Reveal Growing Legal Risks of AI Tech – but in a broader context, these issues are far from settled.
- Twitter CEO Breaks Silence On Limiting Number Of Tweets Users Can Read - the biggest story in tech this week was not an enterprise story, but Twitter's continual experiments with self-defeat (see also, the embarrassing Twitter launches 'new' Tweetdeck as the old version breaks down). Meanwhile, as Twitter turns Tweetdeck from a botch job to a monetization scheme, Zuckerger is salivating: Threads: Instagram owner to launch Twitter rival on Thursday. It's hard to know who to root against hardest in this social-media-end-times skirmish, but one thing is certain: an Instagram-fueled Twitter knockoff has a far better chance of succeeding than it did a year ago.
Hmmm... Doesn't it feel like the whiffs have already started? I'm not 100 percent sure this is a whiff: Google Says It'll Scrape Everything You Post Online for AI. It's basically the most inevitable news story of 2023. How about this: if you're surprised, that's a whiff. Also: shouldn't this put Google in the terms-of-service-change hall of
shameless data-grubbery fame?
This isn't a whiff either, more like an anti-whiff from the modern American heroes file:
California man creates AI chatbot to waste the time of telemarketers https://t.co/lXwxed229W
"“There is one with a picture of a kitten on it and another with a lovely beach scene. Do you like kittens or beaches?” the chatbot replied."
-> that's the spirit brotha! Go get 'em!
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) July 1, 2023
Finally, I handed out some letter grades to vendors for the spring event season. There were a few nice grades, but also, alas, a couple of Fs:
Why I gave vendors an "F" for overhyping generative AI :) - a video clip highlight from my spring event grades. Though to be fair, I gave vendors a much better grade for explaining the need for AI guardrails, privacy etc. Full show replay: https://t.co/8sbPZLBb02 pic.twitter.com/JLJGVfpACM
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) July 2, 2023
Well, we have the summer to regroup at least - 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.