Enterprise hits and misses - retailers learn from the omni-channel holiday stress test, ERP gets agile, and CX gets a terminology debate

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed January 18, 2021
This week - retailers passed the omni-channel holiday stress test, but are they ready for what's next? We kick off our NRF retail coverage. Meanwhile, agile ERP gets scrutinized, and customer data terminology sparks a CX debate. Your whiffs include lost-bitcoin-angst, and an early candidate for satirical tech tweet of the year.


Lead story - Retail passed the holiday omni-channel stress test, but what's next?

MyPOV: Typically, at this time of year, I'm slogging through the sludge and bracing Manhattan wind tunnels savoring the charms of New York City in January at NRF's "Big Show."

This year, the kickoff show (billed as "The Big Show, Chapter 1" is virtual - but the retail issues are no less important. Stuart frames it up in Data reveals omni-channel retail passed its biggest stress test during the 2020 Holiday season, but what happens next? So how did retailers do?

"Drip-feeding" holiday deals across weeks to avoid an unmanageable digital crunch seems to have worked. Stuart cites Salesforce holiday data from 40+ countries: $1.1 trillion in spend, up from $723 billion last year. He concludes:

What does come across is that the sort of pre-season planning to ease the load appears to have paid off, while those retailers that had their omni-channel thinking in order pre-crisis and were able to roll out digitally-enabled capabilities, such as curbside pick-up, more easily have benefitted from their earlier investments.

Salesforce's Rob Garf noted the big takeaway: this is no longer a temporary circumstance - new habits have set in. Stuart quotes Garf:

You know what, it's not like a rubber band - it's not going to snap back. This is all new digital behavior, embraced by a whole new demographic and generation, that will stick into the future.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Tech and health organisations come together to create a 'digital COVID-19 vaccine passport' - It's good to see a range of tech vendors coalesce around this problem (Oracle, Salesforce, etc.), but as Derek says, a vaccine passport raises serious privacy questions as well.  And, I'd add, unresolved health and safety questions also, given a vaccinated person can still potentially transmit the virus. Return to work/travel turns out to be thorny stuff, eh?
  • The problem of algorithmic opacity, or "What the heck is the algorithm doing?" - Opacity in AI used to be an academic problem - now it's everyone's problem. Neil explains why.
  • How an AI service won me over by becoming an AI platform - the Otter.ai machine learning transcription example - I've had plenty of satirical fun at AI's expense. Time to acknowledge that, with some blatant hypocrisy kicking and screaming on my part, AI services are helping me do my job better.

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

A few more vendor picks, without the quips:

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven of the week:  

  • Public Cloud adoption up but not without its problems - Ian Murphy digests a survey from Barracuda, which brings out a crucial point: the "shared responsibility" public cloud model is a serious matter for security, one that customers claim to understand, but some don't seem to be following through on.
  • It’s Time to Set the Record Straight on Customer Data Terminology - Constellation's Nicole France stirred up a LinkedIn guru comment frenzy kerfluffle with this one, which ain't easy to do. It's hard to believe that some poo-poo this kind of terminology talk. Clarification of terms is vital, especially when it comes to the precision of managing customer data ethically.
  • 6 Challenges of Agile at Scale for ERP - I find the "agile ERP" debate pretty tired. Some claim agile and ERP projects are incompatible. Others argue agile is effective for edge projects, but not for ERP. Others lazily slather "agile" on every project and hope for the best. UpperEdge's John Belden strikes the right balance with a much more practical look. The only missing point? Whether you can do agile ERP virtually, when team members aren't co-located. Bonus points for the use of the phrase "wicked messy decisions," I might have to steal that one.
  • Welcome to 2021: A new normal? Or new era for CRM/CX/CE? - Paul Greenberg issues a "state of CX" epic to kick us off right.
  • Successful Malware Incidents Rise as Attackers Shift Tactics - Malware purveyors have seized on the security vulnerabilities of the work-from-home contingent.
  • SolarWinds: What Hit Us Could Hit Others - Krebs rounds up the SolarWinds security lessons.
  • Why we must democratize AI to invest in human prosperity, with Frank Pasquale - "First, robotic systems and AI should complement professionals, not replace them. Second, they should not counterfeit humanity. Third, they should not intensify zero-sum arms races. And fourth, they must always indicate the identity of their creators, controllers, and owners." Pasquale is on his game it seems... I think his book might be worth a look.

Overworked businessman


Some keeper headlines this week: California man lived inside O'Hare Airport security zone for three months - because he was afraid to fly during COVID. So many puzzling things about this story, but it does have a "very 2021" vibe eh?

Also this:

He's not alone. This dude is contemplating a costly excavation project: Man who 'threw away' bitcoin haul now worth over $80m wants to dig up landfill site. Oh, and there is this: An unclassified report on UFOs must be released in 180 days, thanks to the Covid-19 relief and spending bill. Finally, some sensible legislation...

But the early tech tweet of the year goes to Josh Greenbaum, how managed to dismantle an entire analyst firm, as well as the biggest consumer tech trade show of the year, in 280 characters (or so):

Dude, that's going to be hard to top. 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, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com.

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

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