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Enterprise hits and misses - publishers pile into OpenAI lawsuit, B2B buyers defy vanity metrics, and return to office mandates are losing

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed May 13, 2024
Summary:
This week - return to office mandates are on shaky statistical ground, with top talent on the move. OpenAI (and Microsoft) get sued by eight publishers for copyright infringement, and B2B buyers can't be engaged with AI and vanity metrics alone. Somehow, Pokemon Wigletts made it into the whiffs.

Jazz musician playing the saxophone in the studio with joyful improvising. Close-up retro portrait © Master1305 - Shutterstock
(© Master1305 - Shutterstock)

Lead story - B2B buyer engagement is a year-round endeavor - and AI isn't going to solve it

I've been down this road before - but things have changed. AI is in full swing, and KPI culture is turning us into vanity metrics chasers. But there is a happier side: there has never been a better time to integrate events, virtual experiences, and content to serve our customers better. 

However, to do that, we're going to need to measure the right things - and quit sprinkling the hopes of AI salvation onto our buyer engagement problems: 

B2B buyers have changed - but has sales and marketing kept up? I believe the answer is no - and an AI hail mary isn't going to fix this. There's a better way to engage informed buyers. For the first time, I pull content strategy, analyst/influencer relations and creative event design into one illustrated flow.

Time to bear down. Recently, I've had great talks with event planners, analyst relations directors and content strategists on how we deliver not just next gen stats, but transformative experiences. Such experiences may be rare, but they do happen - and we can design to make them happen more often (Can we fix enterprise events - by designing for serendipity?) But we can't stop there: 

Some of the most potent B2B buyer experiences can't be measured. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't push our metrics into new frontiers... Once upon a time, we could witness the power of differentiated content, and not have to worry about documenting it. That time has passed.

We can do better - but not if we are measuring the wrong things: 

If you can't document the magic that occurs around content and community engagement, then you can expect the funding for that to wither... Yes, opt-in data is part of how we win with differentiated content, but the results go far beyond that. Enough with the KPI rebuttals. Claiming this can't be measured is just BS at this point. A good chunk of it can be - certainly enough to challenge vanity metric obsessions. Oh, and by the way, the proliferation of AI-generated content noise is going to ruin the stats/content volume game, so those who are still determined to play that game may want to give that a long hard thought. 

Check my full argument and call to action, and let's hash this out... 

diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • How Starbucks has brewed up CX trouble for itself as retired founder calls for an urgent mobile tech overhaul - Stuart has tracked Starbucks as a digital distruptor for years now. But these days, the lines are long and the results are coming up short: "The problem is actually a lot simpler - the Starbucks customer experience in-store has declined. Consumers don’t want to stand in line for a long time to be served up a cup of what is increasingly regarded as over-priced coffee."
  • How many days in a week? Depends if you ask Samsung or not - A six day work week for senior executives? Sounds fabulous. Cath presses the question: "The move also comes at a time when a huge 54% of senior executives around the world feel overworked and burned out. A further 36% are considering changing roles as a result, according to a recent report by recruitment consultancy LHH. So, just what is behind Samsung’s eye-catching move and is it likely to achieve its desired result? I asked Samsung for some insight here, but the reply was: 'We have no comment on this.'"
  • Six into one - how Global CIO Sharon Peters is creating a single platform for Boldyn Networks - Mark Chillingworth profiles a CIO's platform strategy, and the challenges overcome amidst unsparing deadlines. 
  • How ZoomInfo is automating trust management - George has a security/trust management use case for our perusal: "Jeremy Epling, Chief Product Officer at Vanta, said it has also invested a lot of work in refining the data used to train more competent AI. For example, it has developed a golden data set they constantly train against."

Vendor analysis, diginomica style - spring events roll on. The diginomica team hit the tarmac yet again, and slogged through flight connections gone awry to get you a fresh batch of boots on the ground stories: 

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Madeline continues her notable series: What I’d say to me back then - don’t be afraid to take the long way round for the perfect job, says Confluent’s Stephanie Buscemi. (Also see: Stuart's A strong start to consumption transformation for Confluent as "higher propensity" customers sign up). 

Chris takes a hard look at AI realities in AI and jobs – the critical decision that could mean success or economic disaster: "In other words, an AI-first work environment would be very different to a humans-first culture, and that needs careful management and consideration." Martin wraps the diginomica roundup with ruminations on the shifts in global IT: China - having its chips and eating them (without onions!)

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • Survey: Feds question the ‘why’ behind return-to-office push - a few recent surveys have indicated that the return to office mandates have backfired, at least when it comes to retaining to talent. Not to mention productivity: "More than two-thirds of survey respondents agreed that in-office work accomplishes the reverse: It makes them less productive." If you're a Washington Post subscriber, they've been all over this story: Faced with RTO mandates, some top tech talent left instead. This Tech.co piece from a couple months ago is pretty definitive, citing this survey:  "After matching the work policies against the revenue growth of 554 public companies, they found that fully flexible public companies grew revenue 16% higher than fully in-office companies. In addition, hybrid companies grew revenues 13% more than in-office companies." (9 Statistics That Prove Return to Office Mandates Don’t Work). Tone deaf policies don't seem to be working out that well. Or, at the least, we can say that flexible work policies will definitely be a factor in the so-called "war for talent."
  • Newspaper publishers sue Microsoft, OpenAI over copyright infringement - I predict most large publishers will end up settling these types of lawsuits, and enter into content licensing agreements with "Big AI" instead. But it underscores how the rush for AI market share resulted in sloppy-as-heck "guardrails." As long as LLMs can be coaxed into regurgitating verbatim content, copyright will be legally enforceable. Customers that work with large language models, even through third party vendors, will want their lawyers proofing the fine print - until the legal waters aren't broiling. 
  • In the rush to adopt AI, ethics and responsibility are taking a backseat at many companies - I debated this recently with Constellation's Holger Mueller, who contended that responsible AI talk is window dressing. It turns out that investing in programs to work with AI responsibly takes time and effort. Therefore: "That's a big investment and time commitment and company leaders seem more focused instead on allocating resources to quickly develop AI in a way that boosts productivity." Awesome, that should work out well, because rolling out AI prematurely never causes blowback. 
  • Back to the Hype: An Update on How Cybercriminals Are Using GenAI - A notable report, loaded with specifics, e.g. "Criminals offer chatbots with guaranteed privacy and anonymity. These bots are also specifically trained on malicious data. This includes malicious source code, methods, techniques, and other criminal strategies." Ugh.
  • How VISA is using generative AI to battle account fraud attacks - But as Louis Columbus documents, there are "white hat" security use cases as well. 
  • Navigating Demand Streams - Lora Cecere fleshes out her demand-driven supply chain wake-up call. 

Overworked businessman

Whiffs

I mean, going after a Subreddit? Was this really a brilliant idea? 

Oh, and we can add "slop" to our 2024 tech lexicon: 

Seems like this breaking story fits well in the whiffs section: Novel attack against virtually all VPN apps neuters their entire purpose. Looking forward to using my VPN heavily at shows the next month - argh. Oh, and headline of the week honors go to 404 Media for the unexpected Pokémon Go Players Invent Fake Beaches on Real Maps to Catch Rare Wigletts. 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.

 

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