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Enterprise hits and misses - Equifax and Facebook do the data privacy dance, and AI gets an employee gut check

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 29, 2019
This week - Equifax and Facebook get a financial reckoning for data privacy - but did consumers get a fair shake? Also: why AI won't succeed without employee buy-in. Hertz and Avis do the transformation face off. And, as always, your whiffs.

Beach vacation

Lead story - Data breaches get a (weak) accounting, as the privacy debate puts big tech on notice

MyPOV: It was a week of soggy noodle modest financial "punishments" and navel-gazing for data breachers (Equifax) and data exploiters (Facebook). Stuart kicks our coverage off with Spinning the benefits of a $700 million data breach fine - Equifax CEO gives it a go.

A sneaky big story here: a win for the GCP (Google Cloud Platform), where Equifax is migrating its data. The spin is in full cycle. Stuart:

The spin around how much better things are going to be as an inadvertent result of the data breach is a premise that 147 million people might struggle to find favor with.

Well yeah - especially on the "beefing up cyber-security" front, where Equifax was sloppy to the point of utter negligence. Still, Stuart sees a silver lining:

The FTC did bare its teeth on this one and in so doing has sent a warning shot over the bows of other organizations.

But will those privacy teeth leave a lasting impression on Facebook? Stuart picks that up in More mea culpa from "rocked to its very foundations" Facebook as Zuckerberg insists it's not just about that pitiful FTC fine. He isn't buying this one:

Any sympathetic hearing I might be inclined to afford Zuckerberg's carefully-scripted repentance goes out the window when he talks about agreeing to pay that pathetic rounding error of an FTC fine, as though he had a choice and somehow expects kudos for such a humble act.

After shedding a tear for Facebook from a glass eye, Stuart nails why the apologia rings hollow:

Rocked to its very foundations, says Clegg. Maybe so - but does that stem from what it did or from being caught out doing what it did?

When you're too big to fail, indifference happens. Meanwhile, Jerry provides more context on data breaches via a fresh IBM study: Data breaches getting costlier, harder to detect and repair says IBM study. Problem is: most of the report data is about reducing costs of breaches, not preventing them. Though encryption is one bright(er) spot - a debate the U.S. government is nonsensically sword-brandishing about clumsily wading into (again).

That's all part of the election cycle fodder that big tech companies are set to enjoy. Stuart's gonna have a blast updating this soap opera: US Attorney General's threat to tech industry - our patience is wearing thin.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week:

  • Are enterprises digging a hole by hiring techies to execute digital transformation? Martin struck a chord with his analysis of fresh data on tech hiring: "Will they actually have appropriate skills for tasks such as migrating on-premise production applications into the cloud, or developing distributed, multi-cloud, multi-application orchestrated services that operate with third party partners in real time? Will they know how to specify and draft a service contract with a cloud service provider that delivers both the resources needed and a competitive price?"
  • Kubernetes is evolving into an enterprise-friendly platform, but challenges remain - Kurt's got your Kubernetes enterprise report card: "The marriage of core container technology with PaaS frameworks and development methodologies will ultimately make Kubernetes and its ecosystem ripe for the average enterprise."

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

  • Wall Street wobbles on subscriptions outlook, but ServiceNow continues to deliver strong growth - ServiceNow is the latest to get the Wall Street high school prom snub "your growth isn't good enough" routine. Stuart: "So what gave Wall Street room to grumble? For that, look to subscription revenues. Again, the growth here is strong - up 33% to $781 million. But Wall Street had been looking for more."
  • Kent State crams for good grades on student experience with Talend - Data integration can be a project bogpit sticky wicket, but not for Kent State. Jess is on the case. Why is this approach to integration superior? Because it no longer relies upon point-to-point links. She quotes Kent State: "For every piece of data, there is typically a set of business rules and business logic that helps describe different domains of our business. Talend helps us incorporate that very consistently and uniformly."

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

My 2019 event highlights series rolled on, with two stories that left a lasting impression:

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - AI won't succeed without employee buy-in, and industry focus   

MyPOV: Amidst the usual slew of AI media flotsam, a couple articles brought intellectual relief. McKinsey published Your AI efforts won't succeed unless they benefit employees:

Our data simulations show that the outcome for business, the economy, and societal welfare more broadly could largely depend on two critical factors. The first is the extent to which AI is deployed to create significant product and services innovations rather than primarily to cut costs and substitute for labor. The second determining factor is how AI is used to manage and smooth the inevitable frictions that will arise during AI-based economic transitions.

And yes, some companies are getting this right:

Many companies are deliberately using AI not to kill jobs — and they communicate about it. Instead, they are focusing their use cases on reducing work overload, including rote tasks in call centers, or expanding business in a way that adds to employment.

The problem I have with these types of articles: AI is a moving target. What "AI" is capable of in ten or twenty years will pose a different set of workforce problems. Add an industry focus, and we can sharpen further.

CBInsights did just that in their substantial Paging Dr. Robot: How Robotics Is Changing The Face Of Medicine. Even a hype sensitive reader can dig the advances in prosthetics and less invasive surgical techniques.

Other standouts

  • Avis vs. Hertz: A Tale of Two Digital Transformations - Over at Third Stage, Eric Kimberling gives Avis the decisive edge on transformation: "Rather than forcing technology into their organization as Hertz appeared to, Avis surgically pinpointed where technology could best enhance the customer experience... Avis led with business processes, while Hertz led with technology." Avis also took ownership of their rather than handing off too much faith in a single SI. Agreed - yet an online search showed that Avis hasn't yet gained on Hertz in market share, whereas according to one prominent study, Hertz has gained in customer satisfaction. So it may be too early to talk about "outcomes" just yet.
  • Why do 87% of data science projects never make it into production? - Not exactly a death knell for AI, but a reminder that in search of gold, many will only find lead. " I've had data scientists look me in the face and say we could do that project, but we can't get access to the data," Leff says. "And I say, your management allows that to go on?"

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


I couldn't resist on this Airbus reboot thingy:

Oh, and there's a new AI tool that detects when text is written by AI. Let's see if this column gets a false positive.

You knew Apple wouldn't hold on to its privacy high ground for long. Not when devices revenues are (somewhat vulnerable) and juicy consumer data is right there for the crunching:

Then there is the Drift's LeadBot. Supposedly the LeadBot is some kind of huge lead gen innovation. It was recommended to me, so I've been chatting it up. Not too special:

LeadBot is like that promising date that turns sour, spoiling the buildup by unabashedly copping feels getting grabby. Why LeadBot can't understand basic "back off" requests is baffling. Even an "OK, let me know if you need anything" would have been a welcome response from LeadBot. I guess Drift figures if you don't want to dive headlong down the funnel, then to heck with you. Never thought I'd miss Marty the (grocery) Robot. At least he doesn't try to chat you up.

There's no easy transition here, but thoughts go out to all those affected by the awful Gilroy Garlic Festival shootings. Stay strong out there and 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.

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