Enterprise hits and misses - retailers get their foot traffic, while the return-to-office debate heats up

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed May 24, 2021
This week - retailers get a store traffic boost, but the future still belongs to the omnis. The momentum for return-to-office is building, but have we learned the right productivity lessons? Your whiffs include Google's Quantum 2029, and a gratuitous shot at Microsoft Teams.


Lead story - Shoppers are surging back, but retailers are still on the hook for digital

Seems like overnight, the Vaccine Economy took hold, and consumer shopping behavior shifted. But does this mean retailers can get away with digital mediocrity?

Walmart certainly doesn't think so, as Stuart reports in Shoppers are back in the aisles, even as Walmart commits to drilling down further on digital and omni-channel.

Walmart's not taking any chances here, continuing to invest in omni-channel, rather than relaxing into the improved foot traffic that started in April. Stuart concludes:

But what will be really interesting to see is if the oft-repeated cliche about Walmart’s physical proximity to most of America’s population comes back into play as the asset it once was.

Target, meanwhile, is taking advantage of its omni-stance. Stuart again: More stores in store as Target demonstrates (again) the value of striking the omni-channel balance in retail. The contrast shows up in the store traffic:

As shoppers venture back into stores, foot fall is 17% higher than this time last year, when COVID lockdowns were at their most stringent... It’s all about that elusive omni-channel balance that continues to evade all too many retailers, but which Target has down to a fine art.

This quote from Target's CEO sums up the revenge-of-the-new-store:

For us, the distinction between store sales and digital sales is largely irrelevant. Because of our unique stores as hub model, more than three quarters [ph] of our first quarter digital sales were fulfilled by our stores. That means, in total, more than 95% of Target's first quarter sales were driven by our store assets, store inventory and store teams.

Not every retailer can be Target, but when Macy's has decent news, we know the retail sector is turning a corner: Customers want their retail lives back as Macy's shows signs of omni-channel improvement in the Vaccine Economy. As Stuart says, it's not a Miracle on 34th Street just yet, but to me, this is the acid retail test: is your business in a better position to compete moving out of the pandemic than it was when you entered? Macy's CEO says yes; we're about to find out.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style.

ServiceNow Knowledge 2021 rolls on - Last week I gave a nod to ServiceNow for that rarest of achievements: a virtual event loaded with notable news and relevant use cases. Well, we roll on this week,  with a jam-packed diginomica Knowledge 2021 content hub. Here's a few picks from the latest batch:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - I used to think AI would ruin the music industry. Kurt has a different view in Hitting the right note as AI streamlines the business of music production and distribution. Now if AI can just write better songs than the "hits" that pass off as pop music today; it shouldn't be too hard.

Neil takes an exacting/necessary look at the roots of algorithmic bias in Statistical bias in context - AI didn't invent quantitative methods of bias. Finally, Chris continues his epic/musky cypto-deconstructions in CryptoCrash! The scent of Musk is everywhere as cryptocurrencies face their own Bloody Wednesday.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top six

  • Going Back to Work in the Office: It Has to Be Worth It - As return-to-office heats up, the spotlight turns to the office: what is it good for, and when does office productivity become the myth of the office? This Gallup piece frames it correctly: how can we actually improve engagement in some way, rather than a compulsive push to "normalcy" for its own sake?
  • The big digital flip: 60% of staff going back to the office - Phil Fersht of HfS opens their data kimono, and finds a solid 60 percent staff ratio expected at the office over the next year. "Simply put, it's becoming increasingly complex and awkward to run business operations in a remote model where training is a huge challenge..." Agreed - though I'd argue most businesses did not really use their digital collaboration tools correctly (or creatively enough). And there are other alternatives beyond grinding back into the same Dunkin' Donuts addiction time-draining commutes.
  • RISE with SAP: 100 Days Later - UpperEdge's Len Riley does as good as job as I've seen laying out the competitive reasons why SAP chose to go to market with RISE - and why it's proven to be a challenge for customers to make sense of, given the multiple cloud service models they are now propositioned with.
  • Why Is Organizational Change Management So Important? - Yes, change management isn't exactly the sexiest topic in the known universe, but Third Stage's Eric Kimberling explains why these nagging issues persist (and sink projects). And: how to make the change management business case.
  • Cloud Security Blind Spots: Where They Are and How to Protect Them - Most of these blind spots are human beings, leaving their credentials around like bird droppings.
  • Air India says data on 4.5 million passengers stolen - A very odd comment in here from Air India about thanking customers for their continued trust. Call me old school if you want, but isn't trust something you have to actively earn and maintain? Right now, if you're an Air India customer, you can trust that your customer data is likely to be on the dark web pretty soon - but perhaps that's not the type of trust they are aiming for?

Overworked businessman


So North Korea's Kim Jong Un banned mullets, skinny jeans fearing their capitalist allure. Yes, fear the mullet. Meanwhile, Facebook is doing Facebook things:

And when it comes to Quantum supremacy, Google has put us all on notice: for the year 2029 anyhow:

The social world was abuzz with the news of Microsoft Teams for friends and family. But I see a potential twist here:

Yep, that's pandemic humor for you. 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, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com - all from Fotolia.com.

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

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