Enterprise hits and misses - enterprise apps get intelligent and AI gets scrutinized

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed May 8, 2017
In this edition: enterprise apps unbundle as "intelligent agents" crop up everywhere. AI gets put to the A/B test with a slew of pieces on AI pros and cons. Tableau goes for subscription pricing while Jive goes... ? Your whiffs include a naive assessment of journalists, and a dorky attempt to close the open web. Plus: Stuart's pursuit of digital pizza earns a sneaky tribute to a movie legend named Spicoli.

Cheerful Chubby Man

diginomica hit: Cloud, mobile, AI and the unbundling of enterprise apps by Phil Wainewright

quotage: "Now unbundling has reached the field of enterprise applications, due to the combined effect of integrated cloud platforms, smart mobile devices and intelligent agents. As these three enablers work in concert to pick apart the existing landscape of conventional application silos, expect a wave of unexpected, innovative new combinations to emerge."

myPOV: The overlord of the frictionless enterprise, aka diginomica's Phil Wainewright, flexes his thought leadership in his review of intelligent agents. With new digital assistants bursting onto the enterprise scene, Phil ties these agents into a bigger view: an "unbundling" of departmental silos, and the data trapped within. The good news: we can expect smarter, better enterprise apps - ones that take our voice commands and charge ahead, leaving out laptops gathering dust.

There are impediments; culture resists the pace of change. Phil's tour of recent Siri/Alexa-style moves by everyone from Infor to Unit4 to SAP to Apttus points to one thing: things are moving crazy fast on the tech/AI front. Hopefully we - as in fussy, stubborn, habitual humans - can keep up. If so, we may be reducing the friction from the enterprise even faster than Phil envisions. Huge hits/misses bonus points for tying in Spotify/Pandora into all this (hint: it's about the power of digital "rebundling.").

Happy children eating apple
diginomica three - my top three stories on diginomica this week
  • Symantec's Internet Security Threats 2017 - it’s scary down the rabbit hole - Jerry Bowles makes this Symantec report sound like two parts security advice, one part B movie slasher film. But Jerry is right - it's ugly out there. Unwanted reminder from last week's monster Gmail phish: email remains the most vulnerable entry point (I was very nearly a phishing sucker; several of my most gullible most irritating savviest friends fell for it and sent toxic gifts my way). Jerry reminds us: using cloud doesn't relieve you from thinking about data compromises, redundancy, and disaster recovery. Fun times.
  • Cosabella’s uplifting website design testing - AI or bust - We can talk AI promises till Alexa starts sounding human, but results help too. How does a 38 percent conversion bump grab ya? The tool, Ascend, from Sentient Technologies, does A/B testing on turbo speed. As Jess tells it, Ascend figures out what we click, what we don't, and sells us more stuff. It's all about "evolutionary algorithms," and the one thing human (consumers) are really good at: buying things we or may not need.
  • A survivor's guide to omni-channel retail disruption from Starbucks management - I've roasted Starbucks before, tagging them with the term fugly-channel. Still, they are better at digital than most. Stuart tracks their digital doings closely; here's the lessons learned. I would add: Starbucks is a bit heavy to idealize their "immersive experience". Don't underestimate the power of addictive sugary concoctions.

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

  • Tableau subscription pricing - a proxy for software acquisition - Tableau is taking the subscription pricing plunge, a smart move but not a simple trick. Den's got the analysis: "Tableau has already proven its place in the BI pantheon but will likely admit that its business model was faltering until it brought in new blood. That appears to be getting back on track albeit with a sharp turn in favor of subscription models. While the evidence is still coming in, it appears Tableau has got this right because buyers are rewarding with their checks."
  • CEO Elisa Steele talks taking Jive to the next stage with Aurea acquisition - It was a user group event like no other. Derek got the on-site view: "I asked Steele what words of reassurance she could give to customers that may be feeling nervous about the future of Jive and its investments in the platform. Steele said that the presence of Aurea at Jive World in Las Vegas this week should highlight how the value it is placing on the Jive acquisition." Also see Derek's nifty Jive use case, Changing how we collaborate is a ‘marathon’, says health insurance provider Humana.
  • Hello Unit4's Wanda, goodbye Expensify and Concur? Den's got the demo video and skinny on "Wanda" (move on over, Alexa and Siri). "My immediate reaction was to say that Unit4 could readily position this as a straight replacement for Expensify or Concur, saving the customer money on implementation and avoiding expensive integrations. Thinking further, this approach to automation for this class of expenditure carries the opportunity to render existing, modern alternatives redundant. It surely is a fast moving world."

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Is it just me, or does Stuart have a serious case of the munchies? First it was The Internet of Pizza - just the latest digital topping for Domino's, then it was hold-the-anchovies with Papa John's pizza firm is another example of a digital fast food champion. Not yet satiated, he went for Sainsbury's ran out of hummus, but it's stocked up with digital. Then he topped it off with Dunkin' Doughnuts! But rest assured, dear readers, Stuart managed to sneak in plenty of digital lessons while he was snacking. We'll make sure he brings enough pizza for everyone next time (and yes, that is a Spicoli reference, Mr. Hand!)

We wrap my diginomica picks with the roast-of-the-week, Social media extremism demands better than this Witchfinder General response. Gary Flood operates on bureaucratic short-sightedness with lyrical precision before closing with this all-timer:

I look forward to a more adult debate about these issues as soon as possible.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Is your current job the end of the line? The pros/cons of AI and automation, by Phil Fersht and several other scribes

quotage: "Most alarmingly, only 26% of C-Suites now view developing talent quality as mission critical, while only 12% have not yet embarked on investments in automation and machine learning to reduce reliance on both low-end and mid/high-level labor." - Phil Fersht, Is your current job the end of the line?

myPOV: In Phil Fersht's latest caution, he shares HfS Research findings on the pervasive push towards automation. Being laid off isn't as simple as finding another gig. Across marketing, accounting, development, and admin, gigs are either going away, or shifting entirely. As per the quote above, profitable companies don't rehire in bulk anymore - they push for greater efficiencies. Fersht doesn't leave us hanging though. Check his seven points for staying on top of our game, including what we need to unlearn, and "check your ego - get used to flatter org charts."

The algos that make automation smarter need a harder look, or so argues Will Knight in The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI. Knight looks at the debut of Nvidia's experimental self-driving car in New Jersey. The secret? "It isn’t completely clear how the car makes its decisions." Oh boy. The possibilities are potent, but so, Knight says, are the potential mistakes.

In How Humans React When AIs Replace Them, The New Stack's David Cassell takes a look at a study of humans who were asked to train their AI replacements, making them "more human" before clocking out. It's not all dark side; some, including a travel agent, talked about moving from menial tasks to the more problem-solving/creative sides of their profession.

And via Esteban Kolsky I got my paws on this scathing AI critique by  Nick Hall, Actually Idiotic. It's more of a rant than a clear way forward, but no AI celebrities were spared: "Ray Kurzweil is a few notches on the crazy pole above Marshall Applewhite. Elon Musk is running some long con. They’re all a distraction."

Honorable mention


Overworked businessman
This week, I'm returning the favor; I'm revoking the boarding passes of all airlines to the hits-and-misses column. We all know the industry is customer-hostile and, with a few exceptions, either clueless or robber barons, so let's move on, shall we?

Next up: Phil pointed me to UK  delivery company Yodel, whose Twitter account became seriously borked this weekend. It was compromised by satirical accounts to the point of being discontinued ("Account Inactive"). But not before Yodel's 56,000 followers were treated to harshness like:


So in the middle of this NBC news article on the Gmail phishing brouhaha (which itself was at least a huge embarrassment for Google, if not an outright whiff), I came across this disaster of a sentence: "If you don't trust the embedded link here — which is generally a good thing..." and the author went on to manually list the hyperlink for support.

Gee that's great. So an author writing for NBC, a corporate mega-site advises readers that not trusting embedded links is a "good thing"? Yeah - sure, given that trusting links are the last fragile thread to the freaking open web. Yeah, let's all huddle on corporate sites and walled gardens where nothing bad can ever happen to us - until those sites are hacked also. We can't go back to baby food, but being spoonfed information inside safety bubbles is the next best thing.

Finally, I guess I can understand why these folks put journalists at number one on the ten worst jobs in America. But isn't one key criteria of a bad job whether there is a way out? Loggers I can understand. And disc jockeys (number 6) are mostly screwed, unless they enjoy bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings.

But as for journalists - do the folks behind this list have any idea how much a neutered refurbished journalist can make in corporate marketing? Of course, overpaying reporters to spit polish cloud messaging shill their skills would never happen in enterprise software. Thank goodness. Over to you, Clive.

Which #ensw pieces of merit did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

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, King Checkmate © mystock88photo - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - SAP, Oracle, Workday, Infor Unit4 and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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