Enterprise hits and misses - HR execs grapple with the AI tech surge, post-pandemic IT takes shape, and retailers get a gut check

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed October 4, 2021
This week - HR leaders grapple with the surge of AI tech. Retailers get a pre-holiday gut check, starting with Bed, Bath & Beyond. A standout enterprise blogging week gives me plenty to sort, from the dangers of silos to the democratization of tech buyers. Neiman Marcus gets a breach - and a whiff.


Lead story - New HR tech is coming. What's an HR exec to do?

MyPOV: Maybe Brian should skip shows more often. He wasn't on the ground at the HR Technology Conference this year, collecting vendor swag and savoring the Vegas night life, but that didn't stop him from loading up on briefings, and dishing out some tough HR love.

In New HR tech is coming - along with new costs. What's an HR exec to do? Brian warns HR execs: it's time to grapple with the impact of AI. The argument goes something like this:

Talent is at a premium, thinks the over-worked HR exec. Can HR tech save my bacon help me? Brian:

One type of solution that many CHRO’s and Recruiters will likely examine at the HR Technology Conference will involve AI-powered tools that use big data to improve talent sourcing and career advancement.

Ah, but there's a major caveat:

Readers shouldn’t assume that these new software products will or can be implemented like other HRMS solutions. No, the implementation will be quite different as will the costs.

Brian shares the tips to keep these new HR-AI projects on track. Then there is the bias paradox: used properly, AI tools can provide a corrective against bias from all-too-human HR managers - if, and this is big if, firms are willing to act on uncomfortable data (such as the AI-surfaced realization that a particular manager isn't promoting certain backgrounds or talents). But the tools can do you a disservice in that same regard. Brian warns:

Great tools can spot correlations when the results of a large population of similar people are in the database. These tools can’t really do much with people who are unique.  Use these tools correctly.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Bed, Bath & Beyond's omni-channel turnaround hits a big bump in the road. Who's next? - Stuart: "COVID's not finished with the retail sector yet and the global supply chain crisis is hitting hard." The good news for BB&B may be not-so-swell for the economy as a whole. Is this a sector-wide problem? Stuart: "This is a setback without question, but as the next set of retail quarterly earnings reports starts to come in, I suspect we’re going to be hearing a lot of the same from other brands." This holiday season will put all that to a test.
  • Marketing must go beyond lead capture - time for a rethink! - Marketers are pre-occupied with lead generation - but does the ubiquitous pop-up even work? Barb's on the case with a must-read for marketers - and content teams.
  • Why post-pandemic IT is stronger, more critical and innovative - Kurt parses the SpiceWorks annual IT survey in search of useful context. And he found it: "The past 18-months have seen IT progressing from reactionary crisis response to a period of uncomfortable equilibrium awaiting a hoped-for return to the status quo that never materialized to today's period of strategic planning for a 'new work order' of cloud-centric operations and applications, distributed workforce and technology-mediated and facilitated business processes." Man, after all this turbulence, I sure hope so.
  • NLP brings interactive analytics forward - but what are the requirements to make augmented AI work on your project? - Neil brings interactive analytics into enterprise focus: "Communicating your request to the resources that can perform complex queries and models is the end of annoying user interfaces." C'mon Neil, don't get my hopes up like that...

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

Remember when we had the event silly season? Well, now we have the jam-packed virtual event week instead. Here's a flavor for three events diginomica will be covering this week:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Derek on notable UK tech developments, with data privacy and ethics in focus: Shifting the power balance - the BBC wants to give individuals control of their data online. And: Leaving no one behind - how the UK is thinking about data inclusivity.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • Death to All Silos, With Aphorisms - Josh Greenbaum rolls out a spleen vent for the ages landmark post for us all to gnaw on: "Only a few maverick CIOs, CEOs, and LOB execs care to know what a real heterogeneous, end-to-end process could do for their company, only a handful of really smart salespeople can actually put aside their quota-driven mindsets and help a customer succeed on the customer’s terms, and it’s the rare systems integrator that relishes the chance to officiate over such a fortuitous, and uncommon union. For everyone else, it’s the same old same old." Ouch.
  • The Democratization of Technology Has Created a New B2B Chasm - Neck-and-neck for post-of-the-week honors, comes this milestone post from Hank Barnes, in dialogue with Geoffrey "Crossing the Chasm" Moore. Barnes writes: "Based on the descriptions, the new chasm becomes obvious.  You move from organizations that value technology and put in the work to succeed to those that are cautious and conflicted, lacking the confidence in technology and themselves while at the same time having more people involved in decision making.  And, like the original chasm, they require very different tactics from vendors."
  • Supply Visibility: More Important Than Ever. Yet Elusive. - Lora Cecere, aka "Supply Chain Shaman," tackles the SCM question du jour: where is the visibility? "Visibility means many things to different people. As shown in Figure 2, despite major investments, the gaps are large. We are making slow progress on transportation visibility, but not supplier visibility. Too few companies have a holistic approach to embrace the plan, make, source, and deliver together."
  • Realizing a Decisive Advantage in Digital Commerce Through Economic Flexibility - Dion Hinchcliffe bears down on the digital commerce pitfalls, including that elusive payment UX.
  • Private Clouds Are Making a Comeback - Not sure that's the best news for analytics/AI enthusiasts who don't like data silos, but it's an argument worth having - even if this is not a conclusive piece by any means.
  • Ransomware, Phishing, Zero Trust, and the New Normal of Cyber Security - "Fast threat detection and response times require the ability to decrypt, inspect, and re-encrypt network traffic?quickly and efficiently at scale." There's that visibility mantra again, though in a different context.
  • Study finds that AI is at an "inflection point" for its development - Axios raises questions about problematic AI, including facial recognition, already operating at scale.

Overworked businessman


This one got in my craw:

Meanwhile, cheating on the 'ol chemistry test has come a long way: Test-takers busted for using Bluetooth-connected flip-flops to cheat. Evidently, marrying inanimate objects is catching on also: ‘Couldn’t handle pressure’: Indonesian man marries rice cooker, divorces it days later.

Brian called me out for missing notable buzzwords in my latest deconstruction:

What can I say, I ran out of time after AI... 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.

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