Enterprise hits and misses - exposing the omni-channel and job loss hype

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed February 22, 2016
In this edition: the omni-channel falls short, retail brand damage ensues. Also: IBM doubles down on Watson Health and the blockchain. Jobs and automation do a 2016 skills reboot, and anti-homeless startup bros do the apology spank tunnel.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: Omni-channel fails, retail brand damage, and other feel-good e-commerce stories by Stuart and Brian

quotage: "Omni-channel is something that is either correct (and complete) or it’s a fail. Just like you can’t have a store without payment technologies, you need ALL aspects of an omni-channel environment to be a success." - Brian

myPOV: It's been a rough week of customer (dis)service for Stuart and Brian. Brian's fed up with the farcical notion of the omni-channel, and he dissects the anecdotes in Omni-channel? How about fewer omni-fails? That's the omni-channel paradox for you: marketing rhetoric goes up, but the customer experience remains unsolved. Brian punctures holes in flawed inventory, unstaffed help lines, and the "buy it anywhere, but don't return in here" service abyss. As I said recently, the problem with the omni-channel is it's only as strong as its weakest link.

Stuart, meanwhile, puts his retail misery to good use in When e-commerce fails at the front door, retail brand damage ensues. Stuart's beef is with a particular weak link, the courier firms that can either solidify a brand experience, or, in these three cases, make a mockery of it. There's a painful omni-lesson here: "It really is all about the customer experience for the last 10 yards – but that’s where so many retailers abdicate their brand to third parties who let them – and the customer – down. "

Will Stuart ever get the promised "concern letter" from the concern department? Stay tuned... but in the meantime, to show we aren't just sourpatch kids at diginomica, Phil's got an uplifting/instructive retail story for us on getting the retail job done under the most unforgiving circumstances in 36 hours in the Black Friday ops room at John Lewis.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica three: my top three stories on diginomica this week.
  • How good is your organization’s digital narrative?Barb wraps a terrific two-parter that gets into the nuts and bolts of how narrative can impact your execution. This time she evaluates the five key areas of narrative strength, and how to infuse that into your digital presence, which we used to call a "web site."
  • Leadership and local government culture criticized in new report - We don't hear the phrases "innovation" and "local government" in the same sentence often, and that's a shame. Like any good rabble rouser, Derek wants to see that change. He digs into a new report on local government that is not what you'd call feel-good: "The statistics are pretty bleak," says Derek. He balances a searing critique while acknowledging the budgetary vice grip and spending cuts that stifle change.
  • Ransom note – pay or don’t pay? Ransomware on the rise - Ransomware, well, sucks. And as for the creators, an eternity waiting in line at U.S. customs wouldn't be punishment enough. Cath shares some practical tips for avoiding ransomware attacks. She also asks the obvious question: are there any circumstances where you should pay up? (Typically, your computers are infected and the price you pay is to unencrypt infected files, etc). Turns out there is big debate on this issue. I'm gonna say no, never pay these pr8@cks, but that's easy for me to say as all my systems are currently bug-free.

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

  • Cloud platform wars – SAP Hybris Chief makes the case for YaaS - Derek's fresh back from an SAP Hybris show, where they made their case for a flexible "Hybris as a service" platform. I'm a sucker for good platform talk, though like Derek I could do without SAP's "Salesforce is legacy" snark. To which I would say: prove it. In the comments, SAP's Matthias Steiner makes a helpful clarification on the role of "YaaS" on SAP's Hana Cloud Platform. Steiner is a credit to SAP with his frank/timely social presence, but it's a shame that the HCP message was not delivered more clearly at the event itself. (Steiner responded on Twitter that this will be addressed at future SAP events). SAP's needs to integrate its cloud narrative from disconnected stories in 2016, but that's another rant for another time.

A few more vendor picks, without my cheeky asides:

Jon's grab bag - "Digital native" might be overrated in the workplace, says Stuart in Don’t assume Digital Natives are workplace-ready on skills. Check this quote: "According to Capgemini’s research, 47% of senior decision-makers – the people offering the jobs! – are of the view that people aged between 16-25 lack a strong foundation in digital work skills, defined as the ability to use collaboration and communication tools, design software, as well as understand the cloud and develop app."

Den's got a choice rant for web sites that (stupidly) drop RSS support in The insanity of dumping RSS feeds, which harkens back to our diginomica facelift, complete with new and lovely ways to load your RSS - or email reader. End shameless plug.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Job skills recruiters want, and which jobs are long gone

quotage: "Rote B2B sales and customer service jobs have already gone away.  Forrester’s jaw-dropping prediction is a simple case of analysts predicting things that have already happened to create some headline noise. Most B2B transactional customer service tasks have already been automated, or at least offshored." - Phil Fersht

myPOV: Kvetching about robots has become a blogging cottage industry - I know, I've built a few myself. But this week saw a couple of nuanced/forward-thinking entries. First up is Bloomberg's Job Skills Report 2016: What Recruiters Want. This report is mostly useful for its interactive features. You can view sought after skills by industry using several variables. You can also see how different universities stack up.

The graphics raise some questions Bloomberg doesn't bother to answer. Example: why is "communication skills" significantly more sought after than "work collaboratively"? Is it possible to work collaboratively without communication skills? Still, the presentation is interesting and the industry breakdowns unusually deep.

On a different tack, Phil Fersht of HfS returns to his jobs/automation/outourcing wheelhouse in The jobs aren’t “going away” – they’ve already pretty much gone. I was expecting the vinegar of a vintage Fersht rant but instead found a useful breakdown of automation by function. Fersht also pokes holes in the "fantastical" predictions of Forrester, McKinsey and a host of other who have breathlessly predicted the vanishing of millions of jobs via robotics/automation (some of these are the same jokers that used to irresponsibly predict IT job booms that never came to pass).

Fersht hits back at doomsday predictions, pointing out that most of that automation (e.g. manufacturing, IT outsourcing) has already occurred. But his key point is "Automation in the back office is about productivity improvements, not direct headcount reduction." That matters because if he's right, it's less about eliminating jobs and more about a transition to providing services. That's a huge transition which may not be a party, but it's not all doom and gloom either. Or as Fersht says, "Let's dial back to reality and be honest about what is really happening."

Other standouts

IBM drops billions on predictive health, doubles down on blockchain - So IBM dropped a bit of pocket change (that's $2.6 billion to you and me) to acquire IBM Acquiring Truven Health Analytics and beef up Watson Health (Ron Miller with the update). Sidenote: wonder what that myopic piece on "IBM doesn't get cloud" would say about this pickup? Never write off incumbents with fat wallets. Another IBM update from Ars Technica, this one on its Blockchain pursuits (IBM wants to move blockchain tech beyond Bitcoin and money transfer).

Honorable mention - lots of contenders this week...

Apple Helped The Government Extract Data Before. Here’s Why Things Are Different Now - I predicted encryption would be one of the biggest tech stories of 2016 - which didn't take a genius, let's be honest - but even I did not expect it to blow up this quickly.
Spark Summit East Report: Enterprise Appeal Grows  - Spark's enterprise march continues, here's some analysis, and quick use cases from early adopters.
Future of SAP and SuccessFactors Consulting 2016, Part One - Always an epic, and a must-read if your career touches on SAP, SuccessFactors, or HCM cloud consulting.
Re-platforming, Business Transformation, People, and Partners: Get it Right or Get Out of the Way - Kind of a kitchen sink blog title, but some useful pointers on platforming the right way.
Sleepless Nights for Select Comfort – Rough ERP Go-Live Leads to 25% Hit on Stock Price - The research is second-hand, so a grain of salt is needed as per this particular project, but: useful lessons all ERP projects can use.
This Company Retains 95% of Its Employees — Here’s Its Secret - More long-form goodness. Keeper: "You need to be transparent with interviewees so they can self-select. Be brutally honest about who you are."
How Zenefits Crashed Back Down To Earth -Some details read like a mini "fall of the Roman empire." Might make a nice Netflix series...


Overworked businessman
Don't you just love a passive-aggressive unsubscribe form like this one? Really tugs on the heart strings to leave a list like this one:

unsubscribe - note

Yeah - but first you need to ask yourself why you sent content-free messages to me...

Had a slew of bad service experiences this week. The funniest and most annoying was Spotify support. Their well-meaning tech team wanted to help fix a chronic playback problem. I was given a test account to log into. What they didn't tell me is that a bunch of peeps have the same test account log in. So while trying to test Spotify this weekend, I got into a tug-of-war with "Anthony L's iPhone" over control of Spotify playback. Anyhow, Anthony, when you're done with the Spotify test account, just let me know. FAIL

Oh, and this tone deaf letter made the rounds this week: San Francisco tech worker: 'I don't want to see homeless riff-raff'. Homelessness is a problem in San Francisco, and it's not an easy situation for anyone, most of all those living on the streets. But this letter didn't shine much light. It starts off by naming the problem: "The city is becoming a shanty town … Worst of all, it is unsafe." A collective issue? Yes. But then, the ol' foot in mouth:

"I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day."

Yes I'm sure that is a real hardship for you. If we can just hide the problem so you don't have to step over it, then things will be so much better.  What I didn't know -and what this Guardian article makes clear - is that here is a special apology circuit specifically for startup "bros" who write anti-homelsss rants, get backlash, and do the spank tunnel. These dudes shouldn't be apologizing. We should be thanking them for their disclosing that they lack a compassion gene. Maybe there's a startup that can fix that for them someday. Compassion-as-a-service has a nice ring to it...

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, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

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

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