Enterprise hits and misses - retail searches for metrics, cloud BI pushes towards adoption

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed April 25, 2018
This week: why traditional retail metrics fall short for modern storefronts. Plus: cloud BI heads for redemption, with the stats to prove it. Infosys reveals its digital hand, and I hand out a rare pre-whiff to Google.

Cheerful Chubby Man

Lead story - Getting offline metrics right and avoiding nebulous thinking - retail stories by Madeline Bennett and Stuart Lauchlan

MyPOV: Madeline gets to the jugular of the retailer's in-store dilemmas in There's value in offline retail, but the metrics are wrong. Check this quote from Guy Smith, group design director, Arcadia Group:

We’re incredibly confident that in our stores we have astonishing technology, really cutting-edge stuff. The problem is that it’s not ours, it’s our customers’, they’re carrying it in their hands. They’re doing that at a cost of a few hundred pounds.

For us to invest in technology that advances their journey to a similar degree, it’s not an investment of a few hundred quid, it’s tens of millions.

It's a dilemma/wake-up call stores must face. Walking us through UK storefronts, Bennett get to the question in her title. What's wrong with retail metrics? Answer: the role of storefronts is shifting, from pop-up stores to embedding online pickup centers. But if the metrics remain focused only on traffic and sales, decisions on which stores to invest in or close will be based on tunnel vision. Bennett quotes retailer Schuh:

Traffic and conversions are still relevant, the question is where you draw the line around that traffic and conversion of what?

And yeah, as Bennett says, an all-male retail panel of six wasn't a good look either. Meanwhile, Stuart applied his discerning barbs retail savvy to Debenhams pays the price for "nebulous" digital retail thinking (bonus points for using "nebulous" in any capacity!). When your profits take an 85 percent hit, blaming it on the terrifying indifference of the universe horrid weather is small comfort.

But in Stuart's assessment, the problem runs deeper. Perhaps the digital/mobile strategy is not enough to make up for self-admitted product issues. Cue Stuart's twist of the reporting knife:

Last week’s heatwave in the UK ought to be good for a few more months worth of excuses, eh?


Happy children eating apple
Diginomica picks - my top two stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from a hectic week of vendor events:

  • Five reasons Oracle loves NetSuite - and vice versa - Phil on a software marriage that, surprisingly enough, still seems to have that honeymoon vibe. On the ground at SuiteWorld, Phil quotes Oracle's Mark Hurd: "We have no intention of ditching the NetSuite brand. We’ve kept the NetSuite brand, we’re actually promoting it, supporting it, we think it has tremendous brand value, and we’re actually bringing it globally, moving it around the world in addition to where it was prior to the merger."
  • SAP's McDermott - "We are going to rebrand the whole CRM category!" Stuart nails down a good news/bad news revenue update from SAP: "Good – cloud revenue has broken the €1 billion barrier for the first time in the latest quarter. Not so good – overall revenues dipped, from €5.285 billion for Q1 last year compared to €5.261 billion this year." Also see: my review of a vigorous day of discussions in New York City: SAP addresses the questions on its licensing and auditing news - an influencer event analysis.
  • A pivotal week for Cloud Foundry, Pivotal Software - Kurt on the steady/stealthy PaaS market and Pivotal's central role in it, including its own (Dell-controlled) IPO: "PaaS stacks remain the smallest segment of the XaaS taxonomy, but they are likely the most strategic since they affect the core architecture of custom applications with ramifications throughout an organization including developers, infrastructure teams and line of business analysts." Sidenote: Marko works in a terrific breakdown on why vendor surveys have inherent biases (which does not make them useless, as long as we keep our tin foil hats BS detectors on tight).

More vendor picks, without the quips:

Jon's grab bag - Even if Facebook's grilling wasn't life-threatening, you'd think Google would want to avoid the regulatory fire pit.. But as Stuart notes in Alphabet CEO and the data elephant in the room, it seems Google prefers to focus on redesigning Gmail rather than confront the data privacy-versus-ad revenue paradox.

Angelica examines a worthy (mobile) Paypal push in PayPal chases the 'unbanked' 55 million in Brazil. Speaking of worthy, it was cool to write about AI helping real people that matter, in this case, farmers (How The Climate Corporation uses deep learning as a tool for sustainable agriculture).

Kurt continues a terrific series on applied AI in AI-enhanced instrumentation - the fusion of deep learning and medical sensors creates dramatic improvements. AI is also refreshing when it gets practical, as Martin finds in Having a Level 1 chat with SAMI (a ServiceNow chatbot).

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
The State Of Cloud Business Intelligence, 2018 - by Louis Columbus

MyPOV: remember when cloud BI was a thing, and then it wasn't a thing? Well, it's a thing again. Fellow Enterprise Irregular Louis Columbus parses the high points from a Dresner Advisory Services report, which includes the following: "Cloud BI adoption is soaring in 2018, nearly doubling 2016 adoption levels." And, with legacy IT-centric classic BI projects being a notorious time/budget suck, it's worth noting that

66% of organizations that consider themselves completely successful with Business Intelligence (BI) initiatives currently use the cloud.

Columbus delves further than I can cover here, but there's industry and departmental variances to consider. Another nugget:

Dashboards, advanced visualization, ad-hoc query, data integration, and self-service are the most-required Cloud BI features in 2018.

It's no surprise to see cloud BI getting traction. As workloads shift to the cloud, data latency is less of a concern. Not to mention the cloud's "elasticity" around large data sets, and ability to pull in cloud data services. No surprise, then, to hear Columbus report that cloud-based data connections are a big factor, with interest in cloud application connections to Salesforce, NetSuite, and other cloud-based platforms increasing by 12 percent.

No, this doesn't mean on-premise BI tools are doing away. Nor does it take away from hybrid data integration headaches in the short term. But I don't expect cloud BI to falter again - even if we can't pick a winner's circle of dominant cloud BI vendors just yet. That's why everyone from Domo to Tableau to Salesforce to SAP is emphasizing cloud-based analytics and BI.

Other standouts

  • Can Infosys be the one to challenge Accenture's digital services dominance? - I didn't think I'd care for Infosys' new strategy, but I can think of worse things to do than riffing Accenture's digital services play. Phil Fersht of HfS Research breaks it all down.
  • Why Our Goal Should Not Be an Integrated Supply Chain - In a compelling post that could have been this week's feature, Lora Cecere explains why she left Gartner after losing a "hard fight" on this point. She believes that "planning needed its own system of record, and that this definition was distinctly different from a transactional system of record." Plus, in a view that gains validity as data sources proliferate, "It was also clear to me that transactional data was only one of the feeds to the planning engines."

Honorable mention


Overworked businessman
I'm not calling this a whiff, but it's worth a debate:

Prof says he'll grade students on a curve, so they organize a boycott of the exams and all get As https://t.co/eglsBm1m58 -> one brave classmate could have ruined this :)

— Jon Reed (@jonerp) April 24, 2018

For what it's worth, the professor firmly backs his students' unity/initiative/cleverness in maneuvering his grading algorithm. There's no debating this one:

Gartner's Hank Barnes has been clearing chips off shoulder lately, re: stupid positioning stuff that bugs him. That's led to acerbic Twitter fun like this:

The Google evaluators fanboys and fangirls at TechCrunch wrote an uncritical post on the lovely Gmail overhaul coming your way soon. Not this grouchy scribe. I'm still reeling from a craptastic Google Calendar no-value-add redesign, a flatulent Oreo Android overhaul that Google's own icons aren't ready for, and a Google Voice update so abysmal I still use the "legacy" option:

I've never called a whiff on a redesign I haven't even seen yet, but I feel pretty abysmally confident. I realized tonight that Google views its redesigns like a high tech Lego set ("wouldn't it be cool if it could do this?"). That's unfortunate for those of us who would rather get our jobs done than squander deadlines figuring out where the features we relied upon went in Google's constant attempts to dumb down mobilize the interface.

I ordinarily don't include inspirational tidbits in hits/misses. I figure you see plenty of that in your social streams as it is. But I can't resist this one:

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.