Enterprise hits and misses - retailers face the 2023 omni-challenge, ChatGPT owns the hype cycle, and the autonomous enterprise gets new buzzwords
- This week - retailers ace the holiday exam, but tougher omni-tests are coming in 2023. ChatGPT hype has reached fever pitch - context is needed. And: FAA's fail keeps the IT failures and legacy tech conversation on the front burner.
Lead story - Holiday numbers and omni-fails - a 2023 retail status check
The final holiday numbers are in - where do retailers stand? Stuart crunched the number in The most wonderful time of the year? How online retail coped over the Holidays, according to Adobe, Salesforce:
So, was it the most wonderful time of the year? Well, it wasn’t bad at all, according to Salesforce’s numbers. Although sales in the early part of November were lower than the previous two years - when the COVID boost was still working - discounting and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store) helped take online global sales to $114 trillion globally, with $270 billion of that coming from the US.
Adobe’s numbers, based on over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories, reckons that US consumers spent $211.7 billion, up 3.5% year-on-year. Some 38 days between 1 November and 31 December saw purchases top $3 billion. Particularly popular this season were toys, up 206% on the pre-Holidays period, as well as video games (115%) and apparel/accessories (94%).
Still, consumers had to be incented. Discounting factored in heavily: "Salesforce data indicating an average discount rate of 21%, higher than last year’s 19%." Both vendors cited BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) popularity, to the tune of about 20% of all purchases. No surprise: mobile commerce was big. Retailers, however, are contending with the unwanted backwash of surging returns, which accounted for13% of total Holidays season purchases, a stress-inducing 63% increase year-on-year.
Bottom line: retailers did pretty well, but not without pulling all the stops. However, in the new year, the winners and losers theme returns. As Stuart reports, Walmart presses on, providing smaller retailers with enterprise-level capabilities: Walmart gets local with omni-channel retail tie-up with Salesforce.
But omni-retail also brings omni-fail. Stuart's long-running Bed, Bath & Beyond saga took a rough twist in Bed, Bath & Beyond hope for omni-channel transformation as sales collapse, losses soar and bankruptcy talk increases:
Bed, Bath & Beyond will stand as a testament to how not to execute an omni-channel transformation in a new age of retail. It failed to recognize the digital revolution early enough, sticking to its paper coupon business model. As customers moved online, Bed, Bath & Beyond opened more and more physical stores. These did nothing to help when COVID struck and they all were shuttered. While e-commerce numbers went up during the lockdowns, there wasn't enough of a base to build on. Former CEO Mark Tritton's much vaunted turnaround plan, which said a lot of the right things, didn't deliver enough in practice and he was gone by the second half of last year.
So now bankruptcy looms.
Ouch. Looks like the beds and the baths have given way to the beyond. Something tells me this unsparing environment will put other retailers in tough spots before the year is up. For now, NRF 2023 is on deck in New York City. Stay tuned...
Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week
- The role of Enterprise Architect evolves to focus on business value - it's about time. Good 'un from Mark Chillingworth. He quotes Enterprise Architect Anjali Subburaj: "The Ivory Tower has to change, and Enterprise Architects must work closer to the business and deliver value. So the role of Enterprise Architect is evolving, and this will be difficult for some classic architects."
- UCL - London’s ‘Global University’ - improves employee experience with user-led design and low-code - Gary's latest use case is about "ending using frustration" with a overly-complex HR application process. Count me in.
- UK AI strategy - what did it achieve in its first full year? - Chris assesses the UK's AI progress, and this quote from CDEI Deputy Director Louise Sheridan jumped out: "Organizations often lack the information and ability to innovate with AI in ways that will win and retain public trust. This means that organizations often forego innovations that would otherwise be economically or socially beneficial."
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Have we entered the Automation Economy, or is intelligent automation just buzzword bingo? Automation Anywhere's CEO on what's next - Automation Anywhere CEO Mihir Shukla fielded my pesky automation questions - and explained how customers can avoid RPA silos and get a better automation result.
- Wrike CEO sees growth potential in a tightening economy after spin-out from Citrix - Phil: "There's evidence that productivity has been lost in the midst of this adjustment to a new paradigm. Improving visibility into shared work is one way to improve morale."
- From static reports to self-service BI - Texas Tech Credit Union shares Domo project breakthroughs - Alex with a meaty use case that gets deep into the challenges - and possibilities - of modern BI. "It's actually our CEO who's kind of taken on this effort, but we have a third party where we can pull in market data. He's built some ETL tools, and pivots, and puts it all together into one big data set so we can quickly see where we stand against our competitors in the market." When your CEO can build their own ETL tools, I'd say that's a good sign.
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- How Heap’s integration with HubSpot helps companies activate their customer journey data - Barb
- Francis Crick Institute builds its own ‘Trusted Research Environment’ toolkit with Snowflake - Gary
- Product tour and demo software – a look at Storyscale - Barb
- MessageGears acquires Swrve, adding mobile messaging to customer marketing - Barb
Best of the enterprise web - my top eight
- Software maintenance mistake at center of major FAA computer meltdown: Official - Reader Clive Boulton pointed me to this fail. The full story isn't sorted; different articles have different pieces. But when a contractor (or two) can make edits and bring down the flight grid, you have more IT problems than you can count. Isn't air travel grand?
- Qlik Intends to Acquire Talend for Governance Integration - I don't normally get too tweaked over acquisitions, but these are two of the more interesting enterprise vendors, with (mostly) complementary data analytics/integration offerings. One to watch.
- Is Microsoft about to get the deal of the century? Or is Sam Altman unloading OpenAI at just the right time? - Good to see some sober analysis of ChatGPT, this one from Gary Marcus: "At this point, I just have ask a question: If Altman genuinely thinks OpenAI is close to AGI, why is the company preparing to get out and take so much money off the table, when in principle they might be on the verge of owning the world?" I'll say this: I don't think ChatGPT is mature enough to help Bing overcome it's multi-year drubbing from Google search (before Google approximates whatever value is achieved) - but I'll certainly be paying attention.
- ChatGPT is enabling script kiddies to write functional malware - another cheerful reminder that whatever innovation has been achieved cuts both ways.
- How to Avoid Vendor Lock-in with Cloud Subscription Agreements - despite the SaaS-is-wondermuss narrative that dominates our industry, SaaS lock-in is a real thing. Adam Mansfield of Upper Edge is on the case: "Lock-in is a result of the often extremely high switching costs that come with trying to move off a cloud solution. The costs tied to data migration and the implementation of a new cloud solution can be expensive and prohibitive. There are also change management issues when moving to a new cloud solution."
- Top 5 Change Management Strategies Most Digital Transformation Teams Overlook - Speaking of which... Yes, change management can be as dull as it is important, but it helps when someone who's been there/done that (Eric Kimberling) can move beyond the cliches.
- The Six Principles of The Autonomous Enterprise (Part I) - Phil Fersht defines what enterprises should be striving for: "Ultimately this is about machines making decisions where we previously had humans and removing humans from loops that don’t need humans anymore."
- What Happened To Amazon’s Employees After AI Automated Their Work - Newsfeed readers liked this one - a good reminder that in-depth, primary research is still a vital thing for the enterprise media.
Technically this may not be a whiff, but it will be soon - if we don't get a handle on AI image-inhaling and generation:
A Huge Subreddit Suspended A User For Posting AI Art, But The Work Is 100% Human-Made https://t.co/yjbNlcHX9A
-> AI-generated text is getting most of the hype but IMO AI for image generation is far more advanced/concerning and is way ahead of smart regulations/fair use rules
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 15, 2023
Buzzfeed is pretty clever sometimes:
We Used AI To Write About CNET Writing Articles With AI https://t.co/7D3MonWDQR
-> okay, that's pretty clever.
(note that all the articles involved were adjusted by human editors and that factual inaccuracies from ChatGPT were an issue)
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 14, 2023
Question: how "smart" are smart homes when the so-called smart devices' corporate parents are feuding with each other and can't agree on shared protocols?
The oven won't talk to the fridge: 'smart' homes struggle https://t.co/BPiR2n271b
"Greengart said each company thought its ecosystem would draw in enough people and devices to dominate the others."
->why make devices interoperable? That interferes with the goal of dominance :)
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 7, 2023
Let's close it out with an RIP for an under-appreciated creator, who never let bots catch up with him:
Stevie Wonder and Jeff Beck Perform "Superstition" at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary https://t.co/T6irOzpNgW
-> one of my fave Beck moments - scorching guitar solo taking Superstition up one more notch somehow. RIP Jeff Beck
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) January 11, 2023
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.