Enterprise hits and misses - PaaS gets a buyer beware warning, VMware gets a crush on Kubernetes, and retail gets store love

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed September 3, 2019
This week - retail gets its store love back thanks to Gen Z, but now we have Clothing as a Service (CaaS). VMware puts on a pivotal event, and buyers get a warning on PaaS appeal. Your whiffs include headlines we didn't need, and Walmart's charmless robot army.


Lead story - Gen Z loves the store, and clothing as a service is here - an omni-channel roundup

MyPOV: Retailers have been singing the omni-channel/Amazon Prime blues for a while, but is that tune starting to change? Stuart's latest thickens that plot. First up? Memo to retailers - Gen Z loves the store, so you need to as well. One wee problem: Gen Z might not love your current store. Stuart springs the good news first:

While these shoppers are supposedly inextricably attached to their smartphones and apps, they're actually big fans of the offline store - and are not as fixated on Amazon as retailers themselves are.

Then comes the bricks-and-mortar horse pill. Take the Abercrombie & Fitch brand family. As Stuart reports, half of the Hollister stores have been updated. Still, this leaps off the page:

The focus is on smaller outlets rather than the mall-based 'flagship' stores that the firm built out between 2005 and 2014, but which the CEO now dismisses as being from "a different era".

Converting a freighter into a smaller fleet, while Amazon is flying drones all over your airspace - that ain't easy. To paraphrase Stuart - love the stores, yeah - but you better give them some love too. Then there's the omni-channel innovation you didn't see coming: clothing as service. Stuart explains the appeal in Can 'Clothing-as-a-Service' fashion a future for retail in a Subscription Economy?

The latest is Banana Republic, still the sickliest child in the GAP family of brands, which is about to launch Style Passport, a rental service built on CaaStle's digital platform. Women's clothing is first out the gate with an $85 per month plan for three items, inclusive of shipping and dry-cleaning of items on their return.

Could this play work for retailers? Stuart:

The model is one that could breathe life back into flagging brands with a clear GenZ appeal. I'm outside that demographic sadly, but as I look at my own over-full closet, replete with barely worn (and some never worn) items, I can see the appeal of the CaaS idea.

Worth a market play, but as for the CaaS buzzword? Just stop it people! For starters, you'll never get CaaS right until you get your FashionOps in place.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Unilever reaps rewards from home-grown employee benefits system - Madeline's got a nifty build-over-buy use case from Unilever. After an enlightening/grueling bake-off, systems integrator Endava scored the deal. Now, Unilever is taking their internal build to market. Madeline: "Spurred on by the many benefits of the platform, Unilever is expanding its portfolio from consumer goods purveyor to technology vendor. The firm has spun out a new company, uFlexReward, and is making a concerted effort to sell its rewards platform to other businesses."
  • Getting to know business systems, the new IT kids on the block - I know what you're thinking, "business systems" has the ring of a fairly bland IT advancement, compared to the almost-unbearable marketing colonics excitement over 5G, spatial computing, and the IoT blockchain. But check out the lessons from Phil's west coast jaunt before you make that call: "By the end of the day I realized that what I was seeing was IT transforming to go beyond alignment and actually become absorbed as an integral part of business operations."

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 - Martin raises a thorny data question with international impact in A £174 billion hit to the UK data-centric economy - the price of a No Deal Brexit?

Barb stirred the drink with a strong response my way in Content - marketing, experience, context, oh my! I added a weekend chaser in From content to experience to context - a buzzword debate that actually matters. Yep - calling BS on "content experiences" and "contexual experience" paid off.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - The Use and Misuse of Platform as a Service - by Frank Scavo

MyPOV: Scavo issued an important piece on how customers should evaluate enterprise vendors' Platform as a Service (PaaS) claims. The core of his caution is:

PaaS can be used and abused.

As Scavo asserts, being able to customize/extend the functionality of a Saas platform can be powerful. But, there are dangers also, including:

  • Over-investing in functionality development that shows up in a vendor's future release.
  • Letting vendors off the hook for functionality that should be part of their core release, or an industry edition.

Scavo warns:

Just because you can do anything with the platform doesn't mean you should do everything. This is because you still will need to maintain that code going forward.

Good advice. To which I'll add:

Not all platforms are created equal. Sure, every vendor will whisper sweet nothings tell you they have a simply wonderful, best-in-class platform, but: how proprietary is their tooling? How robust are their APIs? And: how have partners built out functionality on the platform? Is there a diverse apps store?

A vertically-specialized partner can be ideal for such enhancements. But not all vendors are very far along - when it comes to enabling partners to build apps. Look for plenty of partner examples, not just one partner with special access. Partner apps and vertical challenges are an editorial focus of mine. Sample:

Good to see Scavo hit this from the customer development angle; if it helps us to avoid getting PaaS-drunk, he's done his job.

Other standouts

  • As 47% of enterprises seek to reduce their reliance on outsourcing... we're going straight to digital - Phil Fersht of HfS Research opens that BPO data kimono again: "The majority of enterprises are seeking to pull away from their stale outsourcing relationships and replace people with intelligent cognitive workers which learn context – or simply bots that perform transactional tasks."
  • Mobile Identity Is The New Security Perimeter - Louis "Zero Trust" Columbus is back on the security beat. Mobile is the weak link, via our very hackable passwords: "Passwords give hackers a key to the front door of enterprises' systems. They no longer have to hack their way in; stolen or purchased passwords and privileged access credentials available on the Dark Web."
  • Agile ERP: A myth no more - nice piece by McKinsey, though they missed an opportunity to reference a recent industry-wide agile ERP debate, which they seem oblivious to.

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


Headline-of-the-week is a veritable horse race this week:

Least newsworthy news article of the week wasn't much of a competition:

Burning Man temporary city can be seen from space — see the photos

Nice job Business Insider - that's a story we absolutely had to have...

With a hurricane brewing, looks like this won't be the only travel delay this week:

Nudging closer to the enterprise, these awkward missionaries from the non-singularity robotic stiffs are coming to a store near you:

Come back, indestructible homicidal cyborgs with human-like skin on metallic endoskeletons - all is forgiven.

I've been enjoying the lively Third Stage Consulting Blog, well, aside from the blatant sales pitches at the end of each post, but c' mon, Why ERP Vendors are Partying Like it's 1999? I'm all for a gratuitous Prince reference, but compared to the multi-year project extravagance of 1999, today's ERP projects are like 12 step meetings. In 1999, ERP was the height of enterprise sex appeal. Now? ERP is about as sexy as Walmart's robot army. And activist investors are a buzzkill at any party... as are shareholder lawsuits.

And with that, the tarmac beckons. Thankfully I have Tool's first record in 13 years in (under)tow... 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. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.


Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, Sage Intacct and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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