Enterprise hits and misses - GE and Walmart push for digital re-invention

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed June 21, 2016
In our special Tuesday edition: GE and Walmart on their digital push, Oracle on the $10 billion cloud race. Plus - the top picks from a deluge of Microsoft - LinkedIn analysis. Your whiffs include the NSA's IoT infatuations, creepy startups, and the myth of the empowered customer.

Cheerful Chubby Man
This is a special Tuesday "back from long weekend" edition of hits and misses

diginomica hit: GE and Walmart push towards digital re-invention by Derek and Stuart

quotage: "LEDs if you’re familiar with the technology, it allows you to embed sensors and controls into the hardware. So that suddenly a dumb fixture becomes something very smart, intelligent, a sentient — a sentient entity, one light fixture can connect to another, connect to another before you know it, you’ve a mesh network in any kind of a setting. At the same time we were hearing from our customers that they were demanding more — they wanted more operational flexibility in energy management and they wanted access to more renewable technologies." - Beth Comstock, GE vice chair of business innovations, as per Derek's GE staying Current by becoming an ‘as-a-service’ business.

myPOV: We've been talking digital for a few years on your trusty digital rag; the shift we're seeing now is maturing use cases. As in Derek's piece from GE's appearance at the Stifle Industrials Conference. Comstock's comments tie together the customer's need (energy management choices/flexibility, with "smarter" products. We are still many Powerpoints away from truly smart homes, but we're not in the hypothetical part of the conversation either.

Walmart has other digital fish to fry, documented by Stuart in Walmart – re-inventing retail again? I don't know about CFO Brett Biggs' assertion that they have been transforming for fifty odd years - the digital market doesn't weight historical playing cards. But, Walmart had a better-then-expected quarter, so maybe Stuart is right to give Biggs his peacock feather moment. With Walmart Pay (their take on Apple Pay) and new partnerships with Uber and Lyft in the UK for front door groceries, Walmart has some new digital balls in the air. Stuart will be watching...

Happy children eating apple
diginomica four: my top four stories on diginomica this week:

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

Jon's grab bag - Digital governance goodness from Stuart and Derek, first up: Derek's Early G-Cloud advocate says the “dream is dying”, warns of gov “propaganda”, a cautionary tale those invested in equitable government contracts should peruse. From the cauldron of UK politics comes Stuart's, Three principles for digital government transformation, as per Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office. Sidenote: snuck into this piece is one of Stuart's all-time caustic zingers, "You’d almost think it had been planned…". I won't spoil it for you, but look for that line. Boom.

Derek add to his wonderful stuff on Year Up with this fantastic profile piece, Jonathan Ruiz tells us how Year Up “saved his life” and got him off the streets of Boston. After all the BS spouted about lack of skills/talent, it's great to read about people being given a chance - and seizing it. On a similar note, Cath Everett wrapped her terrific two part series on autistic tech workers in The autistic worker – practical advice to recruit unique tech talent.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Microsoft buys LinkedIn, bloggers can't stop blogging about it - by pretty much everyone

quotage: "What makes the most sense about this announcement is the untapped value of all that content, including “social graph” the linkages and insights. The biggest challenge likely will be whether Microsoft is or can be positioned quickly enough to monetize all this content. Information monetization requires all the same mechanisms and processes as monetizing any kind of asset." - Doug Laney, Microsoft Links Into a Treasure Trove of Information.

myPOV: Microsoft's LinkedIn lottery ticket overpay acquisition took up most of the blogging mindshare this week, and it zapped a few of my brain cells in the process. There is no possible way for me to compile all this coverage, so I'll just share a few pieces that prodded my thinking. Esteban Kolsky posted one of the grouchier/provocative/useful takes, with some informed potshots and then the $26 billion question: why not use the money on an open cloud instead?

I don't put much stock in the "LinkedIn will be independent" PR claptrap. Count me on the side of Microsoft's $26B Deal for LinkedIn Puts Social Back on Enterprise Map, which argues that Microsoft will embed LinkedIin's social features into its productivity apps. Lots of talk on how the value of the data justifies the acquisition, including a take from Doug Laney (quote above), with contributions from Merv Adrian and Jenny Sussin. That's not far from Stephen O'Grady's take, Why LinkedIn and Microsoft Isn’t Crazy.

Laney and O'Grady make sense - Microsoft surely isn't paying $26 billion for LinkedIn's cruddy user interface. I think they overlook that there is no inherent value in data. The only value is in how it is used. Can Microsoft turn this into $26 billion? Perhaps. But not by selling ads to headhunters.

As Kolsky says, Microsoft's HR play here is still unclear. So maybe we put the analysis aside until we see what Microsoft can do with their ridiculous new toy. Kolsky says one thing we can (almost) all agree on: "Monumental job by LinkedIn management to unload a stagnant company." The fun continues with Jeff Weiner's creepy letter to staff about the LinkedIn acquisition (an evisceration by Josh Bernoff).

Other standouts:

Honorable mention

How online communities are faring in 2016 - Yes, enterprise communities matter. But not sure most are set up to prosper - too many lingering ROI questions that bring out the bean counter's scalpel and undermine the effort. There are ways to solve this but not in this blurb.
Two Years Post-Acquisition, SAP Fieldglass Execs Talk Growth, Integration, New Features - The forgotten acquisition, but one that matters in the freelance economy.


Overworked businessman
Before we get too geeked up on smart devices, we might want to remember the NSA is salivating over the IoT. That can't be reassuring. The next time you have one of those "what is this all adding up to?" days, just remember, at least you didn't start a creepy startup that offers landlords deep, continuous surveillance of their tenants' social media. Or you could be a dotcom CEO that gets caught up in your own press clippings and then has to reduce your workforce while problematically oversharing.

It's been a rough PR month for Verizon. First, Sprint lured their former "Can you hear me now?" guy for a series of clever ads. Then they were forced to drop their deceptive "#1 speed" ads after intervention from their pals at Comcast.

Also wondering if there will ever be an end to the steady stream of bullshit posts about how customers have all the power now. Just in the last few days, Facebook permanently deleted the option of receiving notifications via RSS, continuing their hostile streak of leveraging RSS for their mission critical internal processes (e.g. Instant Articles) but hypocritically denying the privilege to their members. No announcements, no recourse. Just the impotence of having the revised terms of engagement dictated to me. And what are my options? Go back to MySpace?

Then my crummy bank (People's United Bank) summarily canceled an accounting integration I counted on. Again, done without announcement. After wasting an hour of time in human purgatory with their tech support, I figured out the service was discontinued. So I called tech support back to let them know what their own company hadn't bothered to tell me - or them.

Yeah, I can switch banks - if I want to abandon a very favorable credit line and so on. Those tech support folks didn't care one iota that I might tweet something mean. Can we please get a reality check on the so-called empowered customer? I guess I was expecting more from the Age of the Customer then accumulating depreciating rewards points while paying $1.7 billion in bag and ticket fees.

Officially off-topic

Update: long-time reader Frank Scavo, a trusty barometer for this column, said I was grouchy this week. I like to think I'm a bit of an ass every week, but if I'm too heavy-handed that's no fun. So I'm updating with a few - get ready for it - inspirational bits.

Start with Elon Musk, who informed the twittersphere that the Tesla Model S can float - though he cautions against it. The cool part is this Model S video steering through flooded cars in a Kazakhstan tunnel.

Then there was this emotional video of the Cavaliers' J.R. Smith, troublemaker turned family man, paying tribute to his father after helping the Cavs win an NBA championship for the championship-starved city of Cleveland. Then a gorgeous/brave essay from Umair Haiqh about how losing his health and his "success" led him to a better life.

If all else fails, and the workweek is soaked in stale coffee, the thirty top news bloopers of all time never fails - I've synced it up to my favorite clip. ("I was your boss once!" LOL). See you next time.

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, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa, Beach vacation © lily - all from Fotolia.com.

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

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