Enterprise hits and misses - the retail consumer bucks trends, offices push to re-open, and SAP to IPO Qualtrics

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed July 27, 2020
Summary:
This week - retail consumers create new trends, and retailers scramble for new metrics. Offices push to re-open, but health screening and data privacy loom large. At presstime, SAP announces its Qualtrics IPO intent. As always, whiffs-a-plenty.

King Checkmate

Lead story - The retail consumer is bucking trends and creating new ones

MyPOV: Seems like just yesterday I was stomping through the Manhattan winter streets to get the retail year kicked off at NRF 2020. Well, the world is in a radically different place now - and so are consumers. As I wrote last week in  NRF NXT 2020 - the retail consumer is bucking trends and creating new ones. Retailers need new metrics - again

It was only a year ago I was calling for new metrics in retail: NRF to retailers, and Wall Street - we need better metrics to assess retail health. Well, forget about those new metrics. Now we need even newer metrics, of the pandemic economy variety.

I run through five takeaways from the NRF NXT 2020 virtual event, including the contact-free commerce push, and some surprising stats to come out of it. As for the even-newer retail metrics, those are still getting sorted. Example:

Retailers have adapted - now they need smart ways to measure their goals against today's normal. Example: an increase in BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store) sounds desirable, but shoppers that don't go into stores tend to spend less. Should upselling via the app be a key metric/priority instead?

Stuart added to his retail analysis via COVID-19 puts fresh focus on back end working conditions at e-commerce retailers. He also delved into the luxury segment predicament in "Do less, but better" - Armani's post-COVID omni-channel ethos as luxury retail finally faces up to a clear path of change.

In the first piece, Stuart pounds away at e-commerce players that put warehouse output ahead of staff safety (Amazon seems eager to lead in this dubious category). He concludes:

While consumers in lockdown have undoubtedly appreciated and benefited from the capabilities of online shopping, it's important to remember that the customer-touching interface of e-commerce is only part of the picture. Those retailers who've lived up to their responsibilities are the ones who deserve our business in a post-pandemic future.

Yep. Assuming the consumer is a spoiled child that must have their precious package immediately - no matter the back-end working conditions - is a major gaffe and a faulty assumption. Safety isn't just a moral imperative. It's also a competitive advantage.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style

At presstime: One of the vendors that loves to kibosh a relaxing weekend make analysts lives interesting is at it again. Den with a quick take: SAP to IPO Qualtrics - we called it in 2019.

More virtual event coverage - because you - and we - can't get enough. Kurt and Derek pressed on with our Google Cloud Next OnAir reviews and use cases:

Meanwhile, Stuart picked up some nifty use cases from Salesforce's first Global Governance Summit:

Jon's grab bag - I generally blow off "AI awards" and "Exciting industry partnership announcements!" But I made an exception: Appyling AI to the COVID-19 outbreak - projects that matter via C3.ai DTI and Microsoft. Neil hammers away at algorithmic bias, proposing a better approach: How can we measure fairness beyond bias, discrimination and other undesirable effects in AI? jkj

Finally, Derek blows a major gasket unleashes his I've-watched-one-too-many-yawners wrath with a necessary take: The desire to excessively control your virtual event will kill any real value:

Editing down content and experiences to the point where they consist of only 'gloss' and positive messaging leaves attendees with a feeling that the experience isn't truthful and that they are being manipulated.

Vendors need to regroup before they inflict more underperforming virtual events on us all this fall.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story -  Reopening the tech-enabled office

MyPOV: Companies are looking for the right reopening push amidst a concerned workforce. The CB Insights Research brief, Reopening: The Tech-Enabled Office In A Post-Covid World, gives us a look at the new (safe) office.

What will the new office look like? Not so fast. Start with the upfront screening - you might not get in at all. CB Insights illustrates the point with a dystopian practical example from China:

In China, QR code-based immunity passports embedded within super apps like WeChat and Alipay have become ubiquitous, already rolled out in at least 200 cities. Individuals using Alipay's Health Code fill out a form in the app and the software uses big data to generate a QR code depending on a user's contagion risk. Those who are designated green are able to travel freely, while yellow or red indicate suggested 1- or 2-week quarantines, respectively.

But it's not just China in pursuit of some version of this:

Similarly, New York-based biometric startup CLEAR, whose kiosks are seen in airports and stadiums around the country, has developed Health Pass, which links biometric identifiers to Covid-19 health information that users upload through approved test providers.

Coming to an office lobby near you... Are we still sick of working from home? Just checking. Then there are the privacy riddles, something Dark Secret explores in Data Privacy Challenges for California COVID-19 Contract Tracing Technology.

On cybersecurity

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman

Whiffs

On pandemic life: Goat ‘arrested’ for not wearing mask in Uttar Pradesh. Hey, rules are rules. For others, lack of socially relevant work life in bunny slippers is driving innovation:

The Wall Street Journal is the latest to pile on: Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn't So Great After All. Once more with feeling: the pandemic is the problem, not the remote work. "This isn't sustainable" - yeah, that's kind of the point of a pandemic, it's not supposed to be fun. Smart peeps aren't pushing for a remote work revolution. They're pushing for a fluid workforce revolution, with as much flexibility on hours/location as possible. Why is that so hard to understand? Oh yeah, I forgot - linkbait.

If pandemic life has got you down, not to worry - the quantum Internet is on the way:

Finally, some happy news in all this: grouchy is finally good.

I'm out on vaca next week - one of my diginomica cohorts will take over this column for a week. The question is... who? See you in two weeks...

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.