Enterprise hits and misses - Industry 4.0 gets a progress report, as the workplace diversity problem shifts to skills

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed June 3, 2019
This week - Industry 4.0 gets a gut check. Also: the workplace diversity push shifts focus - to training and skills development. Google Cloud burps, and I pay tribute to the end of iTunes - in the whiffs section.

King Checkmate

Lead story - Shifting the diversity and skills conversations - stories by Den Howlett and Madeline Bennett

MyPOV: When companies find the guts, resources, and imagination to reach outside their stale applicant pools, the workplace diversity convo gets a lot more interesting.

Cue Madeline Bennett's How to tackle the tech skills crisis - send for a Supermum! Yep, it's about parents and 'mum-trepreneurs' filling the technology skills gap, in this case through the Salesforce Supermums program (Dads can participate also).

Supermums focuses on Salesforce admin training, an area of clear market need. And what about results? Bennett:

Of those mums who have completed the course, 85 percent have landed a job within three months, either within Salesforce, or at a customer or partner; the others have chosen not to go back into work for the time being for various reasons. The success rate is aided by a focus at Supermums on helping women market themselves as attractive employees.

And yes, the Supermums program is planning expansion into other markets, including the U.S. Den takes on the diversity issue from a different angle in Cognitive diversity as a driver for workplace and economic betterment. Cognitive diversity? That's about surrounding yourself - and building teams - with people who think fundamentally differently. In my view, that means expanding workplace diversity beyond gender/sexuality through the so-called big eight of diversity.

This isn't a feel-good issue - but a business results/success issue. Den quotes former SAP board member Bernd Leukert on Deloitte, which found that cognitive diversity:

...enhances innovation by 20%, reduces risks by 30%, and eases the implementation of decisions.

These debates are in the context of overall economic inequality. Den:

When you can demonstrate how inequality hurts, that's when people in power sit up, listen and take action. My sense is that Benioff is one of the very few CEOs who inherently knows that attention to diversity really is good for business. But then it also means asking the right questions and correlating that to seeing better outcomes when inequality is eradicated.

The common thread here is to break out of the bubbles of culture and hiring, risks on outreach and training are in order. Yes, diversity is good for business - as long as we break out of the bubbles of limited thinking on that topic also.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Hargreaves Lansdown CDO on the changing nature of customer experience - Derek on an investment platform that's addressing customer experience at a granular level I don't often see: "For one client, the best experience will be to show them all the data that is available, everything that could possibly be presented to them... However, for another client, the best experience may be no detail, nothing confusing, just a simple number or indicator about the performance of their investments."
  • Persado wants to help you write great short-form copy - but can AI really automate creative? There's an overload of speculative poppycock overwrought debate on AI replacing writers - but how about helping creators do their jobs better? Barb shares an inside look at an AI platform intended to make creatives shine.
  • Putting the store at the core of Target's digital fulfilment success story - After some disheartening retail report cards of late, good to see Stuart delve into a semi-success story, even if it hasn't been an easy one. He quotes Target's COO: " Target's digital sales by more than $1 billion in 2019 and fulfilling even higher percentages of this volume from our stores... We're not talking about a theory. This is reality today and it's a meaningful and growing part of our retail business."


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


A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:


Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Industry 4.0’s Potential Needs To Be Proven On The Shop Floor by Louis Columbus  

MyPOV: One of the most ludicrously elusive difficult trends to wrap heads around is "Industry 4.0." How much is hype? How much is relevant for manufacturers today? Louis Columbus of IQMS gets at those questions by analyzing fresh data from advisory firm BDO, blending in his own field views. As for Industry 4.0 adoption? BDO's stats are no surprise:

99% of mid-market manufacturing executives are familiar with Industry 4.0, yet only 5% are currently implementing or have implemented an Industry 4.0 strategy.

So what are manufacturers working on instead? Answer: "Investing in upgrading existing machinery, replacing fully depreciated machines with next-generation smart, connected production equipment, and adopting real-time monitoring including Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)."

Interesting - because I'd argue those pursuits lay the groundwork for the loftier visions of Industry 4.0 - as long as attention is being paid to overall connectivity between these new/upgraded systems. As for those manufacturers getting the most value out of Industry 4.0 so far? Columbus says they are going practical, orchestrating technologies "to find new ways to excel at product quality, improve shop floor productivity, meet delivery dates, and control costs."

That lines up pretty closely with what Columbus sees for midmarket manufacturers in the field. Those companies in pursuit of projects like real-time monitoring and MES upgrades are the ones outperforming their peers - by at least ten percent.

Of course, Industry 4.0 advocates would emphasize that manufacturers must look beyond their shop floor, into cloudy big data/IoT scenarios, and, in particular, supply chain transformation. There may well be big gains there, but as Columbus notes, manufacturers are cautiously weighing the ROI, doing it on their timetables, not on those of gurus and keynote speakers.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessman


So Google Cloud had a forgettable Sunday:

Google blamed "high levels of network congestion in the eastern USA" for the issues. Hmm... I thought being a wannabe top tier cloud provider was about redundancy, not excuses? Speaking of excuses, how about the school principal who "accidentally" plagiarized the verbal droppings, err priceless wisdom miscellaneous musings of Ashton Kutchner in his own graduation speech: "I did not get all my ideas from Ashton. Format yes, thoughts and ideas were from my heart."

And, finally, the baffling iTunes era is coming to an end:

I was going to make a wiseacre remark like "What will the developer assigned to iTunes do now?" But I assume the contrary: it probably takes a legion of developers to make a product this godawful. That iTunes was so successful says something pretty amazing about iOS lock-in. Even when iTunes was an early release product with a few hundred lines of code, it still managed to be bloatware.

Eventually, iTunes became a legendary resource hog, forever consuming CPU in a Quixotic quest to locate an updated version of itself, and pester you endlessly to download it, so that you could lose useful features. Arguably, iTunes was the first software product with genuine human emotion. The only word for how iTunes behaves when you refuse to log in is: angry.

Then there is the charming digital lock-in DRM crud, so vastly inferior in portability to the mp3 files readily available on Amazon.com. But then again, DRM is probably one of the few things Apple will be keeping as it breaks iTunes up into smaller farts constellations. RIP iTunes - well, except for the old edition that still powers my iPod Nano off my Windows XP computer. Yeah, you read that right. I wonder, does that make me a fast follower? Paging Ray Wang...

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.