Enterprise hits and misses - retailers square off against holiday skeptics, customer success gets debunked, and Facebook faces a Meta critique

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed November 1, 2021
This week - don't cancel the holidays just yet - retailers press on. But will supply chains hold? A customer success debate froths up, and spills to other blogs. UK's test and trace gets a rough review, and, you guessed it, Facebook's Meta antics take over the whiffs section.


Lead story - Don't cancel the holidays just yet - retailers gear up for a massive economic health check

MyPOV: Now that Halloween is over - well, except for the candy binges - retailers can firmly square off against the pending holidays. With supply chains running amok, retailers that can accurately anticipate holiday demand will hold the winning hand.

Some pundits might advise writing down the holidays. Not just yet, says Salesforce's Rob Garf. Stuart got the low down in his diginomica exclusive, Retail faces some big questions in the Vaccine Economy, but Christmas isn't cancelled. One thing is certain: if consumers wait to shop last-minute, there will be problems. Stuart quotes Garf:

Christmas is earlier than ever before. This Holiday season we've been really urging anybody we talk to in the media to make sure that consumers are aware. I was asked by a customer of mine in the specialty apparel space, somewhat higher end -  and it's their wholesale division so they're selling into retailers - if our consumers are aware of the supply chain challenges? This was about four weeks ago and at the time my answer was, 'It's a lot different than a year ago'.

Consumers aren't necessarily aware, as they were last year, of the pending shortages they could face. But beyond consumer education, Garf sees a savvier retail sector:

I think the pandemic has taught retailers that the block and tackling of retail is actually really important. It's not just about the shiny object; it's about helping to solve a problem on behalf of the customer. We just did a global survey, the third edition of our Connected Shoppers report, where we surveyed 1000 retailers globally. Most of the investments that retailers made in the course of the pandemic, whether it was on the logistics side or particularly in the store, they were doing these to make the shopping experience easier, more convenient, healthier. Those [investments] are sticky, they’re not going away.

But, as Stuart points out, there's a catch: retailers with monster logistics networks now have a decided edge. A 'Mom and Pop' now has a "last mile" disadvantage. Garf sees both concern and opportunity there:

If it's hard for the 'Mom and Pops’, I think it's equally as challenging for the fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers. P&G, Unilever, Kraft, they know direct store delivery better than anybody. They can get cases, pallets or whatever into the stores and on the shelf in the most profitable way. They're really good at direct store delivery. They don't understand direct home delivery.

There will always be retail winners and losers over the holidays. But for the economy's sake, let's hope we land enough on the winners' side. The lessons are there for the taking.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

A few more vendor picks, all from the suddenly interesting cloud apps midmarket:

More earnings and show highlights:

Jon's grab bag - As you know I can get a bit crusty grouchy caustic about AI use cases, but Derek filed a great one: How The Trevor Project is using AI to support at risk LGBTQ+ youth. Meanwhile, Kurt tracks a fast-moving storyline as Arm accelerates IoT development while NVIDIA bides its time as a still-committed suitor.

Neil raised the caution flag on the AI nudge: Welcome to the algorithmic nudging debate - a potent AI practice with ethical implications. Stuart returned to his hobby of dismantling (pre-Meta) Facebook in More sinned against than sinning - Facebook's pity party fails to convince. Finally, I ratcheted up the customer success debate in Attention vendors - please stop the customer success hype train, unless you have these six proof points. Something tells me we haven't heard the end of this one. Read on...

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • Attention Customers: You’re Responsible for Vendors’ Customer Success Efforts Too. With Proof Points - When Josh Greenbaum saw my little scorcher on customer success, he had a scorching response - and a culture of mediocrity to warn us about, where projects go to lag. Yes, Josh and I will settle our differences on this one: stay tuned.
  • Humans in the loop: it takes people to ensure artificial intelligence success - AI project success is far from certain, but as Joe McKendrick notes, the lessons are piling up: "The cornerstone of AI success is people -- not only AI skills, but involvement from all disciplines, from marketing to supply chain management."
  • Yeah, we’re spooked’: AI starting to have big real-world impact, says expert  - As The Guardian reports, AI hypotheticals are fast becoming real-world realities, putting even AI advocates on notice.
  • Defending against ransomware is NOT rocket science - Fancy some straight talk on ransomware? "The vast majority result from code vulnerabilities where companies are not doing enough to test and secure their code. Many also rely on weak processes that allow attackers to gain access to vendors codebases, insert malicious code and then have it distributed by the vendor."
  • A Return to the General Purpose Database – Redmonk's Stephen O'Grady on a trend that is changing the NoSQL market: "It’s worth noting, of course, that just as the specialized datastores are gravitating back in the direction of general purpose platforms, the general purpose platforms have been adding their own specialized capabilities."
  • Give Analytics A Chance - Lora Cecere wants outside-in supply chains, and she wants them now: - "Today’s supply chains respond, but they do not sense. There is no place to put market data–weather, telematics, point of sale/consumption, unstructured data–in today’s infrastructure. We are very early in the definition of outside-in processes. The largest barrier is decoupling ourselves from believing that historic processes are best practices."
  • The Metaverse: What It Is, Where to Find it, Who Will Build It, and Fortnite - In honor of Facebook's corporate name change, instead of a scorching critique, I chose this 2020 piece, a thoughtful review of what a metaverse actually is. As for Facebook's Meta, I'll get to that shortly, in the whiffs section of course.

Overworked businessman


Yeah, spam calls are super-annoying, but still:

Then there is this rationale for "innovation":

Okay, ready for Meta? Let's start here:

In that light, I wasn't too crazy about this one:

For an independent blogger/analyst like Ben Thompson, scoring a timely interview with Zuckerberg is a huge get, but it comes with civic obligations. Not to press a company with more influence than most nation states is a big, almost incomprehensible miss. It's awfully convenient to focus on whatever your powerful interview subject feels most comfortable discussing.

This Atlantic critique gets at the heart of it - and provoked my verdict (for now): Why Facebook Became Meta:

Honestly, I hope that Zuck isn't chasing an elaborate tale. The world will be a lot better off if Meta > Instagram + Facebook.

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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