Enterprise hits and misses - event season takeaways revealed, as customers declare independence from vendors

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed July 1, 2019
This week - a friction-filled event season reveals frictionless trends. Also: are customers declaring independence from vendors, via build-over-buy? Boeing is in a pickle, and CIOs are vanishing (from boards). Your whiffs include LinkedIn's supposedly relevant feed.


Lead story - Reducing friction, multi-cloud, boosting productivity and the future of work - 2019’s themes for the digital enterprise by Derek du Preez

MyPOV: So Derek peeled himself off his not-so-accommodating airplane seat, and scoured for patterns across a motherload of enterprise events. His top four:

  • reducing friction
  • multi-cloud goes mainstream
  • infrastructure vendors move up the stack
  • productivity and the future of work

I was struck by an underlying theme: both customers and vendors realize that a narrow technical upgrade doesn't get it done. Take Derek on the problem of stagnant productivity, and how throwing our wondermuss technology at the problem doesn't seem to be translating:

It’s not enough to implement the tools, you’ve got to change the way you operate and work too.

Most of these are fueled by customers exerting more choice, and pushing back against lock-in. As Derek wrote on infrastructure vendors moving up the stack:

There's not a huge amount of value add for a buyer if the technology they're procuring is a commodity... This is why we are beginning to see the likes of MongoDB, DataStax and Google Cloud Platform all think about what additional services that they can bring to the table - moving up the stack - to ensure that they remain strategic for an enterprise buyer, not just a small piece of the puzzle.

Agreed: these trends provoke buyers to think more strategically prior to moving ahead with tech du jour, or following the agenda of their prime SI. But as I look back on my spring events, I see a few troubling issues that vendors aren't solving:

  • "Customer data platforms" are being pushed as the way to solve customer experience - but vendors still aren't doing nearly enough to help customers with their arduous data plumbing.
  • Security is still an afterthought at events, with insufficient attention to identity management and securing vulnerable devices.
  • SaaS vendors aren't doing enough to reduce perceptions of lock-in, often using the same heavy-handed, multi-year contract negotiations buyers were fed up with from their "legacy" vendors.
  • Too many celebrity keynotes. Customers want to network and learn, not sit on their tailbones for hours.

That gives vendors plenty to work on when the fall event season rolls around.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

Meanwhile, I was experiencing the cultural enlightenment of the Las Vegas strip getting the lowdown on why "there is no back office" at Coupa Inspire:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Stuart reports on Europe's attempts to distance itself from the namby pamby inaction of the U.S. and the Minority Report dystopia of China in Action now! European Commission group calls for AI policies to differentiate from the US and China. Barb explains why we can't get content marketing progams right.

Den found another guinea pig mark foil expert to don a headset for a fruitful conversation in A conversation with G2's Mike Fauscette - how data-driven analysis bridges the gap between IDC and Gartner. Speaking of fruitful convos, I apply spring lessons to an ongoing debate in Business as usual is overhyped - revisiting my digital transformation debate with Brian Solis.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Time for a Declaration of Independence from Software Vendors? by Frank Scavo 

MyPOV: Scavo's advisory firm Strativa has long advised clients to standardize on vendor software and stay out of the software business. But now this advice is shifting. In this meaty post, Scavo explains why:

  • Packaged software has become expensive.
  • It is difficult to replace.
  • It is inflexible.

No, packaged software isn't going away. Scavo:

None of this means the death of packaged software. In all of these examples, these organizations are still implementing and maintaining ISV packages for things like general ledger and payroll. But we are increasingly seeing buy-vs.-build decisions at the edge coming down in favor of build-your-own-system.

I'd argue digital darlings bullies natives Facebook, Google, Netflix and so on have been employing this approach for years. But as Scavo points out, development tools are democratizing the build option. From low code to web APIs to open source, the cost of custom build has gone down.

It's becoming rare to find companies with sizable IT investments who view IT only as a cost center/efficiency driver. As IT is perceived as strategic, app-building comes along with it. However, it may be the "middle edge" is the sweet spot. Customers don't just look to vendors for payroll.

For example, I find many customers looking to vendors for AI-enabled capabilities out of the box, where their own data science skills/talent are lacking. When those skills become more mainstream, it's now "middle edge" and accessible for custom builds.

I think where Scavo is headed here is that customers are asserting choice by taking more IT ownership. Outsourcing isn't over, but the outsourcing era is. Build is an appealing option. We're all in the software business now.

Packaged vendors should heed the wake up call: customers don't just want cloud delivery, they want flexible pricing and ease of integration with their own cloud/mobile apps, or whatever competitor's product they feel like implementing. The more vendors cling to an increasingly stale SaaS pricing/contract model, the more customers will build.

Other standouts

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


This week in "the end times are here" - Taco Bell's pop-up hotel sold out in two minutes. Oh, and speaking of AI ethicists, I guess their input doesn't extend to the DeepNude app, fueled by a malevolent algorithm? More AI ethicists needed:

I was lucky not to be a part of this one:

Finally, in the social media absurdity file, LinkedIn is evidently tweaking its algorithm to be more in line with user interests. Which caused me to tweet:

LinkedIn is quoted as saying:

"The criteria for posts showing up in members' feeds can be summed up as "people you know, talking about things you care about," said LinkedIn Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies."

Oh, you mean, like this one?

LinkedIn fail

Yeah, this is going well. I think the real problem is LinkedIn doesn't know me. Hey, at least they have a big ol' data lake with my interest map in it. Where they got Apple bag carrier I'd love to know... Maybe for 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.


Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

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

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