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Enterprise hits and misses - peeling back the AI hype, and handing out this year's cheeky blogger awards

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed December 20, 2018
This week - we peel back the AI hype in search of use cases. ERP and SaaS vendors get an intellectual spanking. Plus: I hand out my annual cheeky enterprise blogger awards. As always, your whiffs - this time in 5G.

Cheerful Chubby Man

Lead story -Peeling back the AI and cloud hype of 2018 - stories by Kurt Marko

MyPOV: Kurt just about wore out his B.S. detector on the tech event circuit this year (I hope someone had the good sense to get him another one on eBay, I don't even think they make new ones anymore).

Kurt gives AI a thorough reality check in 2018 - when vendors built the foundations for AI while enterprises looked for useful applications:

Today’s incarnation of AI, bears a closer resemblance to advanced statistics than it does cognitive intelligence. As I discussed in this article, there’s a growing backlash and active debate among academics as to whether machine and deep learning are ‘intelligent’ at all or merely clever ways of analyzing the massive troves of data now available.

Bingo. And I'd argue there's nothing wrong with that. But I don't blame Kurt for getting prickly about the careless use of the term "AI". Careless usage of "intelligent" rolls downhill into product hype that fosters unrealistic expectations (and buyer's remorse). The good news: even within these limitations, Kurt documents some terrific use cases:

Using AI to assist radiologists in identifying CT and MRI scans is an area of active research that I covered a year ago, however a more exciting prospect involves embedding AI in medical devices to enhance their performance by algorithmically refining the raw data.

He details plenty more, expressing a fervent hope for even more impactful AI applications in 2019. I hope so too. But he'll be needing that B.S. detector to get us through. Also check the first half of Kurt's 2018 in review, 2018 - the year of cloud competency as an enterprise IT 'must have'.

Happy children eating apple
Diginomica picks - my top three stories on diginomica this week
  • The SaaS memo most ERP vendors missed - Brian Sommer finishes up strong with a scorching take. The fascinating thing is how many ERP - and SaaS vendors - are going to recognize themselves in this unflattering mirror. Sommer is right: true SaaS is much more than the right architecture, which itself is a tall order for some of these cloudwashed laggards.
  • Will 2019 be the year of GDPR-US? Don't count on it, but... - The need to crack down on some of the most unethical people on earth data privacy abuses seems to be gaining momentum in the U.S., but will it result in legislation? Stuart ain't so sure, but he tells us what to expect.
  • The state of ABM and the need for personalized content - ABM is marketing eggnog. As Barb explains, there's a good reason: the returns are considerably higher. But there's a catch: you need personalized content at scale.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. 'Tis the season... for mergers and acquisitions?

Derek's got the lowdown on ServiceMax's new home:

So what about ServiceMax’s future under new ownership at Silver Lake? It’s clear from Berg that this investment is about scaling ServiceMax further, giving it the investment required to become a fast-growth SaaS company with an independent brand. (ServiceMax CEO gives the lowdown on GE Digital selling majority stake to Silver Lake).

Meanwhile, I looked at how the IQMS acquisition by Dassault Systèmes points to an "industrial renaissance":

This acquisition matters because it points to the resurgence in midmarket manufacturing. But there’s a huge catch: not all manufacturers will make the cut. (Exclusive - IQMS' CEO on why IQMS was acquired by Dassault Systèmes - and what's next).

Lest enterprise watchers get distracted by a chance to gather some mistletoe, Host Analytics got itself acquired also (by Vector Capital). The Enterprise Times filed an early story.

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotage:

Jon's grab bag - Jess closes out another year of use cases with a tech-for-good angle: Tech powers The Bike Project’s work in helping refugees navigate new lives. Den uses ultra-sophisticated AI a magic formula to break out some of diginomica's 2018 winners in Six of the best - your top spankingly well-read stories from 2018.

Because we know you like change management holiday surprises, we rolled out a new commenting system on diginomica. Our frequent commenters like it better, see what you think (Den's got the skinny in We have a holiday season stocking stuffer for engaged diginomica readers - Disqus). Finally, you had to really excel in (dis)service to qualify for my year-end special, The illustrated 2018 customer service fail awards - exclusive personal edition. But some big brands did!

Best of the rest - the cheeky 2018 enterprise blogger awards

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Yep, it's time for the cheekiest awards in the enterprise. One more round of applause for last year's winners, and here we go:
  • The "Your press release is about to get sliced and diced" award - Constellation's Holger Mueller left unanswered questions about big data and Hadoop red shoe marks in his wake at a lot of enterprise events, but it's his press release deconstructions I really look forward to. Sample: SAP intends to buy Qualtrics.
  • The "You make other advisory firms look like slackers" award goes to UpperEdge. Their team blog is now a must-read due to their unflinching customer advice on managing enterprise software behemoths - and steering projects towards the better.
  • The "You got that blogging mojo goin' on" award goes to supply chain diva/expert/provocateur Lora Cecere, whose Supply Chain Shaman blog was, in my view, the best analyst blog in the entire industry this year. You get the gold star Ms Cecere!
  • The "Just because you're retired doesn't mean you have to stop blogging award" - retired HR tech maven Naomi Bloom nabs this one. Here's hoping she'll surface with passionate musings on the future of work in 2019.
  • The"Brothers, where art thou?" award - goes to a couple blogging stalwarts with very different styles, but a knack for piercing the noise. Both were uncharacteristically quiet in 2018 - Frank Scavo at Strativa and Esteban Kolksy at ThinkJar.
  • The "Why don't other CEOs blog like this?" award goes to Host Analytics CEO Dave Kellogg, who blends humor with transparent takes on leadership and managing SaaS growth. Seven Books Not To Give the Boss for Christmas was the latest keeper. I dare you to give your boss "The Charisma Myth".
  • The "Look out for these two in 2019 award" - goes to the dynamic duo at Raven Intel for shaking up the HCM space with their HCM cloud consulting partner ratings. Check my podcast with them as well.
  • The "You really work for a big analyst firm?" award goes to Gartner's Hank Barnes, who keeps his missives on sales and marketing strategy spunky.

A few more:

  • The "Best consumer tech writer on the planet" award goes to Ben Thompson of Stratechery, whose ridiculously literate takes on the likes of Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Microsoft were never more timely in the wake of fake news and industry upheaval.
  • The "One AI/tech/culture newsletter you've got to read" award goes to the superlative curator Azeem Azhar, whose weekly Exponential View sets the standard.
  • The "Can be heavy-handed but you must read anyway if you care about productivity" award goes to Cal Newport, whose anti-social media stance is the entry point into an essential view on differentiating work product.
  • The "If you watch one tech video over the holidays, let it be this one" award goes to the stellar Tricia Wang of Sudden Compass. Teaser: "Tricia Wang reveals how marketing sold its soul to ad tech by believing that it would be the magical big data solution to understanding customers."


Overworked businessman
So AT&T went live with select 5G offerings this week, to the tune of $499 hotspot access. I'd only pay $500 to AT&T if they promised to leave me alone. But wait, it gets whiffier:

AT&T is annoyingly muddying the waters with its 5G branding. It's going to start calling its existing 4G LTE network "5G E" where the "E" stands for "evolution." Its real 5G network, the mmWave one, will be called "5G+," referencing the higher frequency of a mmWave network.

I'm not calling for a delusional marketing hack someone to get fired over this, but they should at least have to work at AT&T's call center for the next year. Then there's this: Amazon sent 1,700 Alexa voice recordings to the wrong user following data request:

Upon listening to the files, Schneider discovered they were the recordings of another Alexa user. After failing to get in contact with Amazon about the issue, the man brought the files to c’t, where reporters were able to piece together who the Alexa user was.

Convenience versus privacy - Amazon lets you choose. But as of now, you can only pick one. I could pretty much change this section from Whiffs to "Facebook Whiffs" at this point. Even so, the latest New York Times piece was bile-inducing (As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants). Cue the weak rationales of the tech bedfellows:

Den cracked me up by pulling this graphical bit of misfortune from November when Diigo went down:

I'm not calling the drones that are bringing London Gatwick airport to its knees during the holiday travel season a whiff, though it seems like travelers aren't too thrilled with Gatwick's handling of plane reroutings.

But it's a good way to say: I hope you all get where you're going this holiday, drone free. Hits and misses is on break next week - see you in the new year.

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 - all from Business team celebrating a triumph with arms up - by @UfaBizPhoto - from

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

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