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Enterprise hits and misses - ESG use cases spark fresh thinking, generative AI faces pricing and ROI hurdles, and event season rolls on

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed October 16, 2023
This week - ESG use cases push boundaries, while next-gen ESG vendors make their case. Generative AI keeps the spotlight, but questions about ROI and pricing loom. The fall event season remains in high gear. And: one firm makes the hits and the whiffs in the same week.


Lead story - evaluating ESG moves, and validating use cases

This week, the diginomica team brought the question of ESG progress to the forefront. Start with Derek's Anglian Water leads AI project - Safe Smart Systems - to improve resilience in the face of climate change. Can AI impact sustainability pursuits?  The projects, while in the "MVP"/POC phase, are intriguing:

The first MVP it's been working on is around anomaly detection, which focuses on trying to work out if there is a signal that says there’s a burst water main or a leak. If it gets an alert, is that true or is there an issue with the sensor?

AI capitalizes on a range of digital projects, all based on superior use of data. Sometimes the most important data isn't consumable by AI - or anything else. As Derek notes, Anglian Water is headlong into "digitalization of asset records for asset performance, and better ways of collating operational asset data for data capture." Meanwhile, Madeline looks at DHL's trucking ESG efforts in DHL pilots heavy-duty electric trucks on road to zero emissions. It's a worthy goal, but as Madeline explains, getting to zero emissions means overcoming tech barriers:

Schablinski is placing his hopes in fuel cell EVs. According to the manufacturers, these vehicles can cover 500 or 600 miles, and don’t come with the payload constraints that some of the better EVs have due to their heavy batteries.

If the future is fuel cell electric, it could well feature a zero-emissions truck that behaves very similar to current diesel trucks.

In the second of her two part series, Cath delves into field views on an overlooked aspect of sustainability: International E-Waste Day - how Virgin Media O2 and Logitech are tackling e-waste. The so-called "circular economy" comes into focus here, with programs like Logitech's 02 Recycle (for old mobile phones) coming into play. Finally, Brian profiles another ESG vendor on the move: How Optera plans to grow & grow its ESG offerings. For Optera, it's about helping customers move away from highly-aggregated, almost-stale data for annual sustainability reports. Brian:

Optera’s core competency appears in helping companies fundamentally change (and not just report ESG data). In particular, it wants to help customers reduce the levels of emissions they generate. To that end, the company is working with customers to help them capture more real-time data across their global operations.

If customers aren't demanding these kinds of real-time ESG views now, they will be soon.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

UiPath Forward - where does UiPath go from here? Say what you want about UiPath, they are never short on new market positioning/ideas, or investor debate. Alex Lee was on the ground in Vegas; I chipped in virtually. Yes, it was nice to write a piece in slippers if you must know...

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Rebecca had "the last word" on Oracle CloudWorld 2023: CloudWorld 23 - the last word. But Brian wasn't done yet; he chipped in with CloudWorld 23 - the back office perspective.

Jon's grab bag - Mark Samuels penned a fresh Snowflake use case in How Bentley Motors is driving home a data advantage through cloud-based integration. Chris took on a critically important area in enterprise AI via Why 80% of CISOs see AI as the biggest threat to their business. Martin explored Intel's AI and (edge) developer vision in Developers rule the world! Intel's Pat Gelsinger on the new world order of AI and edge. Finally, Stuart casts his (appropriately) jaded eyes to a new/old venture in Third time lucky for transatlantic data transfers or a bridge to nowhere?

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Goldman Sachs CIO is 'anxious to see results’ from GenAI, but moving carefully - an instructive piece from VentureBeat's Sharon Goldman on Goldman Sach's AI challenges. I don't read this as a critique of generative AI, as much as a reminder that if you want to keep pace with value (and, in most industries, compliance), this is going to play out longer than the AI carnival barkers would have us believe. Another crucial point: some use cases might be out of the box, but many are not. Relative needs for accuracy (e.g. regulations/audits) and the downside of outliers will also dictate use cases:

Consider Marco Argenti, CIO at Goldman Sachs — who told me in a recent interview that the leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm has, nearly a year after ChatGPT was released, put exactly zero generative AI use cases into production. Instead, the company is “deeply into experimentation” and has a “high bar” of expectation before deployment. Certainly this is a highly-regulated company, so careful deployment must always be the norm. But Goldman Sachs is also far from new to implementing AI-driven tools — but is still treading slowly and carefully.

  • The impact of artificial intelligence on software development? Still unclear - ZDNet's Joe McKendrick might be the stronger voice in our industry, when it comes to putting the breaks on hyberbolic claims on generative AI for developer productivity. I happen to think, properly applied, we will eventually see a solid boost. But McKendrick is right to scour for proof points. He also calls our other aspects of developer productivity that can't be overlooked,  including building the right kind of developer culture, and hiring/retaining top performers.
  • Box unveils unique AI pricing plan to account for high cost of running LLMs - Ron Miller reports on Box's consumption-based generative AI pricing model. This is the kind of creative approach to LLM pricing we need to see more of. What happens if individual users go over their individual credit limit? Miller: "At that point, they can dip into a shared pool of 2,000 additional credits that belong to the entire company. This enables power users to continue to take advantage of the AI features in Box without the company having to spend any additional money."
  • How to use the cloud to support operations at industrial sites - McKinsey takes on the persistent lack of adoption of industry-based cloud applications - and operational data cloud usage.
  • Transversing the Paradox River - Lora Cecere continues her stellar blogging year by asking: why do so many supply chain leaders stick to (stale) convention?
  • It Is Time to End the War on Remote Work - It's a bit of a polemic, but here's my takeaway: return-to-office, as it stands now, isn't working. We need something more creative. Employees know that flexible work does work, and ultimately gets more out of the worker. Deep down, most employers know it too.
  • Race, statistics, and the persistent cognitive limitations of DALL-E - Gary Marcus examines the practical limitations of generative AI, which invariably leads to output controversies.
  • Microsoft and Adobe push new symbol to label AI images - Yes, this piece has a bit of The Register's expected attitude, but it's also a incisive view on the ethical AI pros and cons of image labeling.

Overworked businessman


I forgot to post this mega-gaffe last week:

Perhaps this is what sparked reader Clive Boulton's latest security rant - let's see if he bites on this one in the comment section. Okay, so the photos are overdramatized, but I guess (active) volcano tourism is a thing (I'll skip that; I'm still semi-traumatized by my Vegas hotel room overlooking the dreaded, err, supposedly awesome sphere.

And yeah, it's possible to wind up in the hits and the misses the same week. McKinsey pulled it off by propping up Web 3 mythologies. If our Internet future depends on scaleable blockchains and ubiquitous goof goggles, we're gonna be waiting a long time... See you next week.

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, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Adobe Stock.

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

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