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Enterprise hits and misses - quantum gets real, Koch buys Infor, and Shadow's failed app gets lit up

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed February 10, 2020
This week - quantum computing gets a real-world gut check. Koch buys Infor; we analyze. SAP extends maintenance, and Alphabet finally reveals Google cloud earnings. Shadow apologizes for a terrible election app launch; I skewer. And the whiffs keep coming...


Lead story - Quantum computing - risks, opportunities and use cases - by Chris Middleton

MyPOV: Master-of-the-edgy-think-piece Chris Middleton unfurled a meaty two-parter on the realities of quantum computing. As a quantum computing fan boy and a proud quantum-changes-everything association member curmudgeon, I was glad to see Chris take this on.

In Quantum tech - big opportunities from (very, very) little things, he reminds us that pigeonholing quantum as "computing" is a mistake:

Quantum technology embraces a host of different systems, each of which could form a fast-expanding sector of its own – if investors shift their focus away from computing. These include quantum timing, metrology, and navigation, such as the development of hyper-accurate, portable atomic clocks.

Each use case carries its own risks/opportunities, and need for transparency, particularly when you combine quantum and "AI." However, based on the recent sessions he attended, Chris says we should think of quantum as enhancing our tool kit rather than replacing classic computing outright. He concludes:

In business and technology, we see a world of big objects and quantifiable opportunities, and it is far from clear how the quantum realm relates to it – though it is clear that it does. In short, investors, policymakers, and business leaders need something tangible and relatable before they reach for their credit cards.

Translation quantum computing is so 2021 (or maybe 2025). But I find middle ground with the hypesters: we'd better start talking about the implications now. Quantum computing has a far greater inevitability than say, enterprise blockchains.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Bears might be hibernating, but enterprise software vendors sure aren't napping:

Koch buys Infor: When Infor's CFO Kevin Samuelson took over the CEO role from Charles Phillips, many felt that the pending Infor IPO was in play. Well, many were wrong. Derek was on the case:

Infor to be acquired by Koch Industries - what’s the likely impact? and the follow-on: Infor answers questions on Koch acquisition. The big question here, to me, isn't why Koch versus IPO. It's CloudSuite SaaS adoption. And which industries can Infor address via SaaS industry ERP? Derek's pieces give us important clues - and we'll we watching.

Google breaks out cloud earnings: ordinarily, earning reports are not watershed moments. But this was the first time "Alphabet" broke out Google Cloud (and YouTube) numbers. Google is obviously wary of the AWS and Azure comparisons. But it's not easy to break it all out anyhow (Google added GSuite revenues in also). Stuart parses it out in Google's 'challenger' cloud business hits $10 billion annual run rate as Alphabet breaks out the numbers for the first time

SAP extends Business Suite maintenance to 2030 (with caveats): Arguably the biggest SAP story since the leadership change. Den had some questions stuck in his craw things to say, so he unfurled a two-parter:

MyPOV: a smart move - though an expected one - for the SAP new leadership team, with the user groups heavily involved in pushing the case. However, the next smart moves will be a lot tougher.

More vendor analysis:

And if that's not enough, Brian's got a Zoho review, I filed an Acumatica use case on SaaS best-of-breed, and Stuart crunched a landmark Zendesk earnings report.

Jon's grab bag - My annual productivity post is up and out; plus I took gratuitous shots at linkbaity Slack-has-ruined-work headlines (Personal productivity 2020 - Slack and Microsoft Teams didn't ruin work - but they didn't fix work either).

Neil explains the inexplicable in The problem of AI explainability - can we overcome it? Finally, I'm glad Jerry addressed the Clearview AI bottom-feeders in Clearview AI - super crime fighter or the death of privacy as we know it?  There's a special place in my personal Hades for greedy entrepreneurs who steal faces, drape their motives in totally bogus 1st amendment claims, and plan to sell said data to authoritarian regimes. These bozos make robocallers look like human rights activists.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - analyzing the wreckage of the Iowa caucus tech fail 

MyPOV: This could probably just be the whiffs section. The Iowa caucus app failure is very much like this: if you and I wrote down a step-by-step plan on how to screw up a mission-critical app launch, with everything from poor user engagement to technical failure to lack of contingencies to hacking vulnerabilities (which fortunately were not exploited), we've have this mess.

Hits/misses reader Clive reckons this is the best post-mortem: Shadow Inc. CEO Iowa Interview: 'We Feel Really Terrible' . First off, don't feel terrible, just go away. Shovel snow, or get involved in a local recycling initiative. Make a pinball app. Just stay away from the future of democracy from now on. Then there's this doozy: An 'Off-the-Shelf, Skeleton Project': Experts Analyze the App That Broke Iowa. Tell me if this sounds like something that would go smoothly:

To properly login and submit results, caucus chairs had to enter a precinct ID number, a PIN code, and a two-factor identification code, each of which were six-digits long.

Then there's the IDP, which was warned not to use the app by at least one party, and went headlong into their own abyss. Fortunately, there are a few lessons we can extract. Such as this one from Greg Miller, co-founder of the Open Source Election Technology Institute, which warned the IDP not to use the app weeks ago:

Our message is that apps like this should be developed in the sunlight and part of an open bug bounty.

An ironic message for an app developer named Shadow...

Honorable mention


Overworked businessman


I got a terrifying college flashback when I saw this one: Note targeting 'selfish' bongo player at Glastonbury Tor demands he stops playing. This prankster brought us back to the future though: Berlin artist uses 99 phones to trick Google into traffic jam alert.

In my line of work, we joke about PR hacks over-achievers pogo sticks pros "circling back", as if a second blast will somehow polish the turd of a crummy pitch as it slinkers by - well, this takes the noxious act of circling back to another level: Family Gets 55,000 Duplicate Letters from Loan Company. But hey, it's not all crash-and-burn here:

cockroach gift

I can't let this slide another week:

avast fail

I think we all realize by now that "free" services are all about data hucksters gorging themselves on the sweet nectar of our personal lives selling us out to the highest bidder. But when an anti-virus company gets it on the action, surely the Idiocracy has been achieved: "To make matters worse, Avast seems to maintain a lukewarm stance on the issue."

I'd like to invite the Avast team to step into my fiery cauldron. The only thing that's lukewarm is your grasping business model and your mediocre adware, err, I mean, anti-virus protection. Just one question: who protects us from you? As for Liz:

liz avast fail

I'm with ya, Ms. Miller. Hopefully this is the next best thing....

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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