Enterprise hits and misses - Oracle OpenWorld gets the editorial treatment, the future of HCM software comes into focus

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed September 23, 2019
This week - Oracle gets autonomous at OpenWorld; we review. Also: the future of HCM software is laid out. Retailers continue their Amazon skirmishes, with grocery delivery still up for grabs. Your whiffs include WeWork's gaffe-happy week.


Lead story - Retail disruption special - FedEx gets Amazoned, and Kroger turns to Ocado for pickup

Just a few years ago, FedEx leadership assured everyone within earshot that Amazon would not be a bother. Well, Amazon is now officially a bother. Cue FedEx CEO Fred Smith. Stuart quotes Smith in his latest, FedEx's 'King Canute' stance can't hold back the Amazon tide of delivery demands in an e-commerce age:

We can't make the competition go away. I wish they would, you know, just leave the field.

Hmm... Once you get past the hubris of denial, there's only two ways to play it with Amazon - go the frenemies/partner routine, or cut ties and paddle like mad find your unassailable niche. FedEx has officially changed course - partner ties are severed. Now, everyone grab a paddle. Stuart concludes:

There is however still a sense that FedEx has been the delivery and distribution industry’s version of King Canute, commanding the Amazonian tide to turn back and ending up getting its corporate feet very wet indeed. Its share price went into freefall this week over the latest set of pretty dismal quarterly numbers. FedEx has big problems and it needs to get its e-commerce house in order in short order because the Amazon competition isn’t going away.

Stuart called this years ago, so we can forgive a ruffling of the peacock feathers an editorial victory lap:

Turns out ‘Uberisation’ mattered after all…

One area where Amazon hasn't won the day (yet) is grocery pickup and delivery. Kroger thinks it might be able to get a piece of that action, courtesy its tie up with Ocado. Stuart gives his assessment in How Kroger is learning e-commerce lessons from Ocado with some big expectations to deliver on. Gist: interesting tie-up, but Walmart and Amazon are on the move here. There's a lot of av(ocados) at stake here (terrible pun indeed).

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Has AI really caused a massive retraining need? Then we need a retraining roadmap - I ran out of caffeine on Friday, but not out vinegar it seems. IBM concludes we need to retrain 120 million workers - I critique. The robots-and-jobs debate is tired - what's not tired is the discussion on what the heck to do about it. A couple of highly-trained diginomica readers provide good fodder in the comments section.
  • The new marketing standard requires the right data and content - Barb crunches fresh data on marketers' baffling priorities, which surprisingly placed personalization ahead of "improving the level of actionable data/insights." Given that personalization is nothing without proper data, Barb asks: shouldn't data and insights be number one?

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Oracle OpenWorld blowout coverage - our OpenWorld coverage was wall to wall, as our global coverage team tried to keep pace with Oracle's automagical autonomous database futures. Here's a flavor:

Two more from our vendor coverage:

A few more vendor picks, without the blurbs:

Jon's grab bag - Neil's got the grab bag all to himself with a delectably curmudegeonly edgy AI two-fer, starting with: To understand AI advancements in health care, there are two storylines we must follow. The first storyline is about the exciting pursuit of AI innovation; the second storyline is about dealing with the consequences of that pursuit.

Neil takes a few more sacred AI cows off to graze in Data for good and AI ethics - a movement or just a conversation? Bonus: he responds to my question about why he holds the idea of AI ethics boards in such low regard. Another question I didn't expect: can AI regulate the ethics of other AIs?

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Musings - What enterprises want from their HCM Suites by Holger Mueller

MyPOV: Mueller hasn't "mused" in a while. But this week, he set aside a surely incredibly fun Constellation Research HR project to share some high-level findings. Here's what jumped out, and my takes:

  • Always-on” Payroll Is the New Normal - if real-time payroll information becomes a differentiator, that is likely to shake up the HR market - including the cloud HR market.
  • Voice Is the New User Experience (UX) - not always, but definitely for mobile-carrying HR users. Mueller, who is always carrying three phones at least, must have particularly interesting group voice chats. But yes, for HR self-service, voice is a big deal.
  • Employee Experience Matters Again - It should have mattered all along. But yes, at least some companies have figured out they are going to suck as CX as long as their employees hate their jobs and/or find themselves in soulless, unsupported roles while customers get their posteriors kissed with next-gen apps employees don't get. If that's changing, then it's about time.

Here's what Mueller says about "always-on-payroll":

The best practices of running payroll when ready and needed are by now archaic. Real-time payroll information has quickly become standard for both employees and managers who want and need to make smart payroll-related decisions. The “always-on” payroll allows better transparency into pay-related information and processes.

That should keep some vendors up at night. Not sure if ADP is one of them anymore though. Check Mueller's Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day 2019 - Ready for Prime Time.

Honorable mention

  • Artificial Intelligence Only Goes So Far In Today’s Economy, Says MIT Study - I never link to Forbes articles in this column because I'd rather wait in international security at Logan Airport than deal with the UX at Forbes.com, but I must admit, it's not quite as annoying as the last time I dared. Is ZDNet's auto-play video purgatory UX now worse than Forbes.com? Perhaps. Anyhow, Joe McKendrick, who writes for both sites come to think of it - so he may have an opinion on this - riffs on how AI is falling short: "AI and machine learning still fall flat when it comes to innovation or reacting to unforeseen or one-off events." What is enterprise-grade AI anyhow? Will we know it when we see it?
  • 5 Key Insights From Absolute's 2019 Endpoint Security Trends Report - Plenty of disconcerting stuff in Louis Columbus' latest, but this one jumped out: "Over 42% of endpoints experience encryption failures, leaving entire networks at risk from a breach."
  • SuccessConnect 2019 Recap - If you want to know what really went down at SAP SuccessConnect 2019, start with this on-site podcast review with Steve Bogner and friends.
  • Day Two to One Day - Ben Thompson breaks out Amazon's push to one day Prime delivery, which causes him to pull back from his bearish critique of Amazon's vampire diaries cost cutting push. I don't mind seeing Thompson struggle between rave and reject, no one is immune from the Amazon paradox.

Overworked businessman


So robot priests are more acceptable to Protestants than Catholics reports ZDNet, in one of the weirdest and least actionable tech stories of the year. Speaking of least actionable, "Business Insider" got in on that one too with this atypical lifestyle piece: If a nuclear bomb explodes, conditioner could trap radiation in hair. And one more atypical lifestyle piece: this apparently true story of a guy who put the food in his fridge on lockdown via a "fridge safe" so his girlfriend - or should we refer to her as his ex - couldn't get at it?

WeWork had another one of those rough weeks, and the worst thing is, "let's just get back to work" doesn't really work in this case. But at the risk of mean-spirited mockery of a company already reeling, we couldn't resist a bit of a go at WeWork's privacy exposing wifi network, as in "for years, sensitive documents and corporate data have been easily viewable on the coworking space's open network." I drew the line at Nic Cage's cat picture being exposed (or, Nic Cage as a cat). 

Anyhow, this led us to some Twitter alternatives to WeWork. Kurt Marko likes #WeDontWork. I suggested another:

But WeSpend was eclipsed by another:

Either way, the perils of co-working have never been more lucrative. Though that may change shortly. In the meantime, via diginomica's Phil Wainewright, we'll always have the umbrella incident:

You can get the full backstory here. The only thing that surprised me about the whole thing was when "WeWork said it would be quite expensive." But maybe this was before they got their $5.9 million back from their CEO for the trademarking the word "We," and its "family" of incredibly valuable variations - which hopefully does not include WeSpend, or diginomica will be paying into the kitty soon enough. Catch you next week.

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.

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