Enterprise hits and misses - retail grapples with the post-COVID consumer, employers face attrition pressures, and data breaches compete for headlines

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 12, 2021
This week - retailers try to anticipate the post-COVID consumer. Hybrid work surfaces new pressures for HR leaders, including talent attrition. More context on JEDI, ransomware, and IBM's leadership shuffle. Your whiffs include data breaches galore.

King Checkmate

Lead story - What is omni-channel retail’s relationship with the post-COVID consumer?

MyPOV: Retailers that invested in the so-called "omni-channel" prior to the pandemic are looking prescient. But is there more to it? Stuart digs in with The ‘Great Uncertainty’ is over; here comes the ‘Greater Uncertainty’ - omni-channel retail’s relationship with the post-COVID consumer.

On the NRF's recent state of retail panel, US Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said: "We are anticipating the fastest growth that we've seen in this country since 1984." But will it be that easy? Stuart raises questions:

The NRF State of Retail event picked up on some of the tricky manoeuvres that lie ahead as what it called ‘the post-pandemic consumer’ re-shapes the retail industry. Jean-André Rougeot, President and CEO, Sephora Americas, set out his firm’s stall coming off the back of a year in which e-commerce soared as storefronts shuttered

Even with stores making a comeback, consumers' expectations are different. Yes, there is the table stakes online -> store integration, but there is more: consumers expect retailers to be accountable to the communities their storefronts serve. Does that also mean strengthening your brand's positions, at the expense of losing some consumers in a polarized environment? Stuart concludes:

The NRF economists reckon there’s going to be more money to spend out there; the trick for post-pandemic retail is to wake up to the fact that consumers haven’t emerged blinking from 18 ‘unprecedented’ months ready just to slot back into their old behaviors.

Also see: Stuart's The new world of grocery shopping - online and big warehouses, according to Ocado.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Heathrow Airport data takes off with Microsoft - Mark filed this use case about a major travel hub adapting to post-pandemic shifts in travel habits, along with sustainability concerns: "Globally airports will need to chart a course very similar to that taken by Heathrow and ensure their technology stack enables data analytics to improve operations, lower the impact on the planet and improve the bottom line."
  • Mitigating unknowns in an age of business uncertainty - Kurt riffs on Donald Rumseld's (in)famous "known unknowns" quip, and finds plenty of analytical meat on the bone: "As business returns to some semblance of normal, companies in retail, logistics, travel and hospitality face unprecedented surges and chaotic swings in demand that they struggle to anticipate. Consequently, more organizations seek to mitigate these known unknowns through the aggressive collection and predictive analysis of relevant data using sophisticated machine learning models."

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my top choices from our vendor coverage:

Salesforce Live kept our virtual event coverage team on their tippy toes:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Derek goes with Roger Daltrey and Won't Get Fooled Again jugular when it comes to the UK's digital governance pursuits in The UK (once again) says digital is important and (once again) has a plan to be world leader. Does the UK's rebooted AI strategy fare any better? Not so much, opines Chris in Coming soon! UK AI strategy - the same, only more so.

Finally, Neil warns that your digital transformation may be adrift in a data lake somewhere in Why is your digital transformation falling short? Start with leadership - and data. Don't use the phrase "data-driven" around Neil Raden:

So much is made of "data is the new oil" and monetizing data, but the truth is, data doesn't speak for itself. It acquires value through careful curation, governance and good models that put it in motion. So the idea of the data-driven organization is a fallacy. You can't drive an organization on data alone.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • The single vendor requirement ultimately doomed the DoD’s $10B JEDI cloud contract - Ron Miller takes a deeper dive into the JEDI selection debacle: "Ultimately I think you can blame the DoD’s stubborn adherence to a single vendor requirement, a condition that never made sense to anyone, even the vendor that ostensibly won the deal."
  • Up to 1,500 businesses infected in one of the worst ransomware attacks ever - Ars Technica with more on a concerning attack: “'It is not a great sign that a ransomware gang has a zero day in a product used widely by Managed Service Providers, and shows the continued escalation of ransomware gangs - which I’ve written about before,' security expert and independent researcher Kevin Beaumont wrote." Sidenote: no idea why this article is in Ars Technica's "gadget" section...
  • QAD Inc. to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo for $2 Billion - This news came out a couple weeks ago. Based on some of the backchannel on the seemingly extravagant PE ratio attached to QAD of late, maybe this is an acquisition to watch. Will Bravo try to modularize QAD's manufacturing software for the cloud, a la Plex? QAD has always been a steady presence, but does this valuation imply more? Where will the growth come from? These are questions I'm getting peppered with.
  • With Whitehurst stepping down, where do IBM and Red Hat go from here? - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols with more on the fallout from Whitehurst's (semi) surprising departure.
  • Getting real about hybrid work - McKinsey contrasts employee attitudes about return to work with leadership's. Citing similar attrition stats to the ones Brian Sommer cited above, McKinsey writes: "In the enthusiasm about the return from remote working, business leaders run the risk of actually increasing the disconnect between themselves and their people. The idea that we will cross a finish line and suddenly be done with all the hard stuff seems to exist only in the minds of senior leaders.At best, the rosy messaging of a grand return to the office is falling flat."
  • Amazon Eyeing 'Rebel Alliance' With Dropbox, Slack To Challenge Microsoft - All the articles on this topic stem back from a single Business Insider paywalled piece. So we must treat this as somewhat hypothetical, strange bedfellows aside. Nonetheless, it signals the traction of the 365/Azure combo.
  • Amazon is using algorithms with little human intervention to fire Flex workers - Amazon may be the biggest offender but they are hardly the only one. The name of this problematic game? Put AI/automation into production at scale; worry about the human consequences another day.

Overworked businessman


Amidst the techno-utopian fanfare of this robotics advancement, was I the only one thinking "Yikes - this mofo could be chasing me down someday?"

And, I've got a couple whiffs for the "If you don't laugh, you'd have to cry" division:

Another doozy:

Yeah, you really had that locked down! As Clive points out:

Maybe Morgan Stanley can hit Vegas soon? 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, King Checkmate © mystock88photo - all from Fotolia.com.

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

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