Enterprise hits and misses - Marriott stinks, Quora is questionable, and the omni-channel is elusive

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed December 7, 2018
This week: As the holiday season rolls on, retailers's omni-channel woes persist. Plus: I blow a couple gaskets rounding up advice after the Marriott and Quora breaches. Then, there is an AI article whiff to reckon with.

Cheerful Chubby Man
Lead story - Lands End and Hudson's Bay grapple with the omni-channel - retail analysis by Stuart Lauchlan

MyPOV: Stuart's got holiday stocking stuffers for retailers of note, starting with Lands End (Lands End on firmer ground, but omni-channel challenges remain tough as exit from Sears continues). The numbers look better, including strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday digital sales, but this Sears thing is getting awkward, as Sears stores close right and left. It's hard to serve customers across channels when one of your channels is going dodo bird.

But the Amazon partnership is a pragmatic step forward. And, Stuart didn't see the need for any "cliff's edge" snark, so that's a good sign. Meantime, Hudson's Bay has omni-channel quandries of its own (Hudson's Bay - claiming retail uniqueness, but still struggling with omni-channel 101).

Stuart isn't as impressed with BOPIS as Hudson's Bay leadership is ("Buy online, pickup in store"):

Seriously this is omni-channel retail 101 stuff.

Then there's this keeper:

The idea of gradations of uniqueness makes me cringe at the best of times.

This isn't one of those times:

While wishing Hudson’s Bay well as a retail institution, I’m troubled by the pace of change and the steep climb there is just to get to the omni-channel basics.

Not to pile on, but I could have lived without the "proud Canadian heritage" mic droppings. If there's one thing we know about modern retail, every day you have to earn it. Heritage and tradition count as much as jingle bells. And with that, we watch the holiday season to unfold.

Happy children eating apple

My two two picks on diginomica this week -

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

A few more vendor picks, without the quips:

Jon's grab bag - The molten core at the center of Facebook's ongoing destruction of Western Civilization woes appears to have shifted to the UK for now. Stuart's on the case: "That may be good for the world, but it’s not good for us" - Zuckerberg, Facebook and your data.

Jerry chronicles the volatile frenemies-to-enemies US political tech pretzel in US military to tech protestors - 'We’re at war; pick a side'. Hey, when your ethics are for sale global expansion is job one, China looks pretty tempting.

Finally, if you've had your fill of buzzword-dripping tech predictions from a pu pu platter of tech gurus, you may find reprieve in the satirical aburdity of my annual collaboration with Brian Sommer, The 2019 enterprise software un-predictions, wherein hot new buzzwords like "omni-crapper" and "fiscal experience" are revealed.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Lead story - Marriott stinks, Quora sucks, and other notable lessons in cybersecurity

myPOV: I wanted to give readers sophisticated cybersecurity analysis, but I can't get past this simple thought: man, doesn't Marriott stink? And doesn't Quora suck the eggs of the hard-boiled variety? Aren't we all fed up with these wet noodle apologies?

Oh yeah, now that Congress is turning up the PR Bunsen burner, Marriott's going to spring for the costs of some new passports for a few impacted by their breach - after they file their forms in triplicate. And, who knows, maybe they'll find you a room closer to the elevator! Throw in some crackers and a cheese dip spread while you're at it. And wow, didn't we all pay for the poor judgment of logging into the only business web site creepier than Klout Quora once a few years ago to give it a test drive, before realizing it was an influencer pajama party, then forgetting we ever signed up?

Sorry, I'm a wee bit ruffled. Let's turn it over to peeps who have a handle on their indignation. Start with Ian Murphy of The Enterprise Times, who looks at why mergers are fraught with security risk:

Part of the IT integration project should have been the security and safety of data. It is clear that there was no security audit of the Starwood systems. This is something that regulators and shareholders will want to know about.

I'll say. Meantime, thinking big picture, Dark Reading's Gus Hunt urges us to move from cybersecurity to cyber resilience. Hunt is addressing U.S. federal agencies, but we can all gain from those tips. And, a few more from Tech Republic: 7 tips for CXOs to combat cybersecurity risks in 2019 and beyond. But here's the sobering part:

The year 2018 alone saw more than 600 cybersecurity data breaches that exposed more than 22 million records.

And yet, Deloitte found only 25 percent of organizations are scenario-planning to prevent such attacks. That means: more violations and ineffectual apologies on the way in 2019. Time for vigilance, folks. And for some zero trust security, as per Louis Columbus' October call to action.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessman
Issued my first bonehead alert of December:



This piece is four years old now, but wow, these are bonkers fails:

Then there's this:

Finally, I think we all appreciate realistic/skeptical takes on AI to counteract the marketing bombast. Instead, we get this faux realism from HBR:

Twitter smartie @ggheorghiu points out that "Most content on 'adopt or die' topics is pure marketing...". True - but this one is particularly bile inducing. Why?

In the piece, the authors specifically say that AI is different than other "fast follower situations":

They are planning to be “fast followers” — a strategy that has worked with most information technologies. We think this is a bad idea.

Yet they never bother to explain the difference. What makes being a fast follower in AI so detrimental? Because it takes preparation and resources? Yeah, that really makes AI unique. If the authors had contrasted AI adoption to say, blockchain, or cloud, or serverless, or pick your buzzword, they could have perhaps made a case for why AI is different. Instead they hand out marketing candy in professorial guise.

Nor do they mention any business results these AI market leaders are achieving. "Alphabet" is cited as a company that's way ahead. Well, last time I checked, Google makes the vast majority of its money on tiny classified ads, same as always. If they are so far ahead on AI, shouldn't financial results be part of the picture? Yet on the enterprise cloud side, where AI will surely factor in, Google is getting tails kicked by Amazon and Microsoft. Oh, and the authors point out Watson as an incentive to start early - yeah, be like Watson, the epic AI financial sinkhole at IBM that has yet to lead the company forward revenue wise.

Nevermind that many companies lack data science experts and AI development skills. So, the article's message, as far as I can tell, is: get started now, this time it's different, and you'll have to look elsewhere for advice on how to do it. I'm confident the authors know a truckload about AI, that's not the issue.

Just call the piece "Why we heart AI" - and we're good.

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.

Image credit - Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Winter Sports © lassedesignen - all from Fotolia.com.

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

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