Enterprise hits and misses - industry clouds are in, but so is market volatility

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed August 31, 2015
A cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn't) - on diginomica and beyond. This week: peeling back the Salesforce industry cloud. Plus: inside Infosys, and the state of digital in South Africa. As always: your picks and whiffs.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: Peeling back the Salesforce industry cloud announcement by Phil Wainewright and Martin Banks

quotage: "Working with partners will give the platform much wider reach than if Salesforce were to attempt to build solutions for every industry on its own. At the same time, Salesforce has made it clear there are certain verticals it intends to target and it is interesting to look at its reasons for doing so." - Phil Wainewright

myPOV: In the lead up to Dreamforce, Salesforce made announcements worth dissecting. Phil's on the case, starting with Scoring the Salesforce financial services industry cloud, wherein he grades Salesforce's financial services cloud against investor Gordon Ritter’s five industry cloud hallmarks. How did Salesforce score? "Strong in some respects, qualified in others," concludes Phil, citing data-driven insights as a strength, with market share dominance still to be decided.

Then Phil looks at the broader implications in A first take on Salesforce’s industry cloud strategy. It's all part of a big platform revamp, aimed to ward off industry cloud challenges. Oh, and enable partners to build out industry cloud functionality using the so-called "Lightning Experience." And: a Lightning UO upgrade is on the way also, to all Salesforce.com customers by end of October.

Meantime, Martin risks getting struck by lightning (crummy joke alert!) in Salesforce – aiming to mean ‘business’? Martin's take: Lightning could make experienced developers more productive, saving them from the mundanity of rewriting code blocks, and app development might extend to beyond specialists - maybe even into the realm of business users. How will this go down with Salesforce customers? We'll know a heck of a lot more in a few weeks.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica six: my completely subjective "top six" stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style - Den's client Infosys issued him a rare media backstage pass to the Infosys internal U.S. sales kick off. Result? Insights into the Infosys transformation in two installments, Exclusive: progress in the transformation at Infosys from the inside and Infosys talks open source, cloud and value.

Den also has Workday's latest earnings under scrutiny in Workday Q2 FY2016 beats with 51 percent growth, more than 1,000 customers. Most interesting part? Financials pipeline is growing faster than anticipated. Den sees a wake-up call to Oracle and SAP on that front. Phil wraps our vendor coverage with a ServiceMax funding round (ServiceMax boosts IoT appeal as funding tops $200m).

Jon's grab bag - Den uses an ongoing "As a Service" series from HfS research as fodder for Six barriers to change in the age of Aas and Robotistan, easy winner of week's most intriguing article title (and best piece, if you ask me). New diginomica contributor Barb Mosher Zinck issued a sober/well-rounded view on employee advocacy (How organizations are winning trust through employee advocacy).

Stuart's back on his retail kick - forced to choose one, I'm going with Best Buy thrives on Internet of Things complexity. Speaking of sober takes, Den has some ice cold diginomica seltzer for those who overhype Facebook's B2B referral power (Facebook as prime traffic referrer – should you care?).

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Finding productivity amidst market volatility - by Chiara Criscuolo and Lora Cecere

quotage: "Seen from this perspective, the productivity problem isn’t a lack of global innovation. It’s a failure by many firms to adopt new technologies and best practices." - Chiara Criscuolo

myPOV: Global market volatility has been a backdrop to this column the last few weeks. Articles that navigate market madness are always welcome, so I picked a pair this week. On HBR, Productivity Is Soaring at Top Firms and Sluggish Everywhere Else Chiara Criscuolo, senior economist at the Paris-based OECD, shares some provocative OECD productivity research.

Nutshell: productivity is key to global economic growth, and productivity has been declining. But there are exceptions: the slow productivity growth of "average" firms hides the surge in productivity of a minority of high-performing players. This productivity gap is prevalent in a range of industries. Criscuolo warns that R&D and tech investments alone won't close the gap. The high performers have the capacity "to combine technological, organizational, and human capital improvements, globally."

Interesting thesis, though the article falls short on detailing how the high-performing organizations manage to pull off this productivity trick. Lora Cecere takes a different tack in Will the Downturn Signal an Upturn?, examining global volatility from a supply chain perspective. Cecere has a warning of her own: traditional forecasting tools are inadequate in the face of market volatility.

Reminding us that "demand is not a forecast," Cecere calls for change: "The supply chain needs to respond to market demand and consumer sentiment. Traditional supply chain processes do not sense. They respond. This is a major disconnect." Like Criscuolo, Cecere also sees winners and losers emerging. In her own work, Cecere knows of less than 25 companies that "actively sense demand". She asks: “How many economic downturns will supply chain leaders experience before they get serious about market sensing?” She backs up the point with specifics worth pondering.

Other standouts

  • A code of ethics for programmers - Developers or not, we're nothing without a code. Mike Cavaliere gives a code of ethics a shot in Ethics for Freelance Programmers. Some standouts: "Be honest about what you can and can't do." There's a tricky one - "Question whether you're building the right thing - within reason." That's a tough one to navigate, but point is, if there's a better way, do you keep your mouth shut about it? No. Cavaliere wraps with an appropriate catchphrase: "Above all, be communicative, inquisitive and honest. In this game, reputation is everything."
  • The Business Of Podcasting With Donna Papacosta - If you're looking for a podcast about podcasting, this is the one for you. No, it's not about the technical side of setting up. It's about the business of it - how podcasting is changing, the rise of videocasting, why "intimate" conversations matter. And if intimate sounds uncomfortable in a business context, "nuanced" might work in its place. Mitch Joel, probably the best podcaster in the digital marketing arena, talks with his original podcast mentor a decade later. There's something to learn here, especially for those who are wrongly convinced that people only have time for photos with captions.

Honorable mention

10 Ways You Need to Change How You Think and Talk to Succeed at Sales - I could pick some nits with this one, but like most First Round articles, there is meat on bone.
Social intelligence and reputation are the keys to survival in this automating world - "good news for the paranoid". Might have to lift that one. Turns out computers struggle with so-called "social intelligence." Bad news for assholes, it seems. We can only hope.
Cloud implementations and expert advice for SAP & SuccessFactors customers - video annotation and useful tips for SaaS consultants, and those who hire them.
Designing UX for Natural User Interfaces - add "natural user interface" to your catchphrases-for-salivating-marketers list. Silver lining: the "NUI" acronym is never gonna catch on.
Rethinking Work - bigger picture stuff, as in: why do we limit our workplace ideas to pay increases in a misplaced attempt to raise the fulfillment levels of dull routines?


Overworked businessman
Just curious: is anyone ever going to call BS on Netflix for offering an affordable streaming option with (almost) nothing to watch? Par for the course: Netflix is about to lose a bunch of good movies, but hey, an Adam Sandler comedy is coming in December. Elsewhere, we're still trying to figure out the legal implications of drones, but we do know this: fly your drone near an LA police copter tracking a suspect and you'll get the handcuffs.

I actually really liked It's Time for Analytics Pros Against Data Abuse. Author James Connolly makes astute points about data bias. It's especially grating during election season, as politicians seize on "studies" that support their positions and disregard the rest. Yeah, data cherry picking stinks. Connolly is right - analysts should speak out. But are analysts that good at avoiding data bias themselves? The shoddy/sponsored research-with-marketing-agenda that plagues our industry indicates otherwise. Connolly's confidence in "analysts" exceeds mine quite handily.

My peers liked When Everyone Is Doing Design Thinking, Is It Still a Competitive Advantage?, but I didn't. First off, plenty of companies don't know where to begin with design thinking. Those that do don't find it easy to get talented designers on staff. I guess it depends on how you see design thinking. The author, an experienced designer, is encouraged by the presence of designers across teams and industries.

Every time I use the phrase "design thinking," the high school senior inside me shakes his head in shame for the corporate tool I've become, so I try not to use it much. But the way I think about design thinking, the hard part isn't the design - it's having the guts to involve outside constituents (customers, influencers, partners) EARLY in the design process, before fateful decisions are made.

How many firms have the guts to admit their own ideas aren't as good as they think they are? How many make huge course corrections based on the input of the external "personas" design thinking purports to serve? Not very many. There is good news: most firms have now published their "how we do design thinking" web pages.

Officially off-topic

Belly-aching tourists brought us joy this week. Exhibit A, via hits/misses reader Frank Scavo: Yellowstone Tourist Says "Train Your Bears to Where Guests Can See Them". Then there's I Can't Stop Reading One-Star Yelp Reviews of National Parks. ("A big rock with glorified weeds," "This is the ugliest place I've ever seen"... God bless Yelp.

I missed this World's Deadliest Animals graphic Bill Gates shared last year. Didn't realize sharks were quite that harmless. Mosquitos number one? Got that one. But I didn't know about the "assassin bug" (20,000 human deaths a year).

For those with kids K-12, this totally free high school tutoring service might be worth checking out. Speaking of productivity, Stephen King, who knows a thing or two about getting work out the door, has an interesting take on quantity versus quality productivity. I'm a bit more on the quality side than him, but then again I think King wrote his finest book (The Stand) in 1978, a view he doesn't appreciate.

Finally, I trashed Netflix, but I'll admit to enjoying the new series Narcos. Not special but watchable. If you don't mind some social issues mixed with your drama, David Simon's six episode HBO project Show Me a Hero is your ticket. Let's wrap this.

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 credits: 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, Infosys and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.