Enterprise hits and misses - retailers reckon with holiday lessons, the future of work gets distributed, and low-code hype rolls on

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed January 17, 2022
This week - retailers extract lessons from the (omni) holiday reckoning. The future of work irrevocably distributed, and low-code (hype) is surging into 2022. Your whiffs include: the worst of CE revisited, and hacked Teslas doing the Rick Roll.


Lead story - Retail lessons for 2022 - what did the holiday numbers reveal?

MyPOV: As the NRF "big show" attempts to host a successful on-the-ground event in Manhattan this week (with a startling indifference to hybrid event possibilities), last year's retail numbers came into focus.

Stuart parses the final holiday results in Retail 2021 - the last word from Adobe and Salesforce. What did we learn? It's a good news/bad news mix. Start with the good. Stuart cites Adobe's stats:

US consumers spent $204.5 billion over the 2021 holiday season, up 8.6% year-on-year. As noted, Black Friday and Cyber Monday impact now extends backwards and forwards outside of the traditional calendar boundaries.

Lessons? Retailers with omni-savvy, e.g. curbside pickup and mobile UX, won out. Stuart again:

As noted across the whole of 2021, fulfilment was a critical competitive differentiator with curbside or in-store pick-up used to complete nearly a quarter (25%) of online orders over the Holiday season as a whole, peaking on 23rd December - Christmas Eve Eve - at 40%.

Mobile factored in, but for the core shopping experience, desktops and laptops still hold sway:

Some 43% of online sales came via smartphones - $88 billion overall - but consumers still use desktop and laptop computers as their primary way to shop online.

Via Salesforce, Stuart reports:

As well as shopping early for Christmas, consumers also had a last minute splurge as the emergence of new COVID variants saw 23% of global digital sales placed after 18 December. It was stores that were able to offer curbside and safe in-store pickup that won on this front, capturing 62% of the last minute Holiday rush.

The omni-imperative doesn't look to ease in 2022. Stuart concludes:

As we push into 2022, many of the same pressures remain on the retail sector. The supply chain crisis is going to keep on hurting and the inflationary situation in large parts of the world isn’t going to help anyone.

Indeed - by the time we are truly in a post-pandemic economy, I suspect consumers' digital and safety-driven behaviors will stick. Storefronts will assert their value only if they are fluid enough to make shopping easier, or creative enough to bring "experiences" in-house. Though perhaps augmented reality/virtual reality will (eventually) have something to say about that, and give us one more reason to stay home. See also: Stuart's To market, to market - omni-channel retail lessons as Power Shoppers lean towards online marketplaces.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. My top choices from our vendor coverage:

Jon's grab bag - Chris says the UK is ready to rumble with Big Tech: UK’s Digital Market Unit wants to ask Big Tech for a fight (have fun with that). Meanwhile, Martin says he's found a valid (and interesting) blockchain use case: Someone’s talking Blockchain, but don’t run and hide - this is about proof of value.

Since I resemble the anonymous diginomica skeptic Martin cites in the piece, let me be clear: my definition of blockchain value (outside of crypto) isn't about the validity of the use case. It's about whether we are live - at production scale - which, year after blockchain-addled year, we never seem to be. This startup example is not. That said, they do have notable projects underway, and appear to have tackled some scale and energy consumption challenges.

Finally, I tried to spackle hard lessons into useful output in The do's and don'ts of the customer use case - the bedrock of B2B content strategy. Here's a fun one:

All customers speaking on webinars, panels, and at events should be aware: their comments will likely wind up on social media, and perhaps in published articles. Neglecting this leads to stressful situations, and, at times, the intervention of legal - which is ultimately powerless to do anything, but makes everyone miserable for a few days.

Maybe more than a few days...

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • The Great Switch: distributed work first - RedMonk's James Governor has seen the future of (distributed) work, and he's not looking back: "The joke about every hiring conversation ending in: 'must relocate to San Francisco' just isn’t true any more. These changes were set in place before the pandemic. Now they’re in stone. We’re not going back to the world’s elite software engineers all living in one city."
  • A busy year ahead in low-code and no-code development - And I was planning on putting low-code hype behind me in 2022. As per Joe McKendrick, it doesn't look that way. And yet, there is work ahead: "Even the most popular tools in the market requite significant API knowledge and most likely JavaScript experience."
  • How no-code AI development platforms could introduce model bias - Let's toss a bit of cold water on the hype, shall we?
  • Rethinking retail operations for the omnichannel future - A substantial piece from McKinsey: "The contemporary challenges of omnichannel can’t be solved by single-channel thinking in which each channel operates in a silo, managing its own inventory and measuring its own team performance."
  • eB2B solutions in fragmented retail - Another from McKinsey, this one on the B2B firms making the e-commerce push: "Fragmented retail is poised to be transformed by “eB2B” players: portals and applications that replace the in-person sales model for small retailers and restaurants."
  • AI’s 6 Worst-Case Scenarios - IEEE made a different kind of "AI dangers" list, focusing not on the Terminator but on more "mundane" AI scenarios. But these mundanities are anything but harmless: "To prevent these worst-case scenarios, we must abandon our pop-culture notions of AI and get serious about its unintended consequences."


Overworked businessman


I'm not totally sure if this is a whiff, but this Ars Technica headline is delicious - and deliciously accurate: After ruining Android messaging, Google says iMessage is too powerful.

More goofy extravagance extolling the creative genius of soulless robots who can supposedly mimic the intimacies of the human condition, you know, the imperfect qualities that make great art possible in the first place:

Remember my belly-aching about the lack of skewering of CES 2022? Well, we (finally) got it:

So much for cool tractors I guess... Speaking of overly-cool vehicles:

Over on Twitter, Meg Bear made an undeniably great point:

Bear is referring to this little nugget:

As a final troll measure, he states that he can even Rick Roll the affected owners by playing Rick Astley via the YouTube app.

Yeah, that is gold indeed. Though perhaps not for the owners... 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.

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