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Enterprise hits and misses - retailers swap a digital surge for foot traffic, return-to-office hits resistance, and T-Mobile is better at data breaches than 5G

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed August 23, 2021
This week - big-name retailers see faltering digital growth, but is in-store traffic finally back? The return-to-office push faces new critiques, as "hybrid" work falls short. Speaking of falling short, T-Mobile is back to what it does best - getting its customers' (and former customers'!) data breached.


Lead story - As digital sales falter, are retailers getting an in-store payoff? 

Up to now, projections about the return of in-store sales have been a Vaccine Economy hypothetical. But is that changing? As Stuart explains in Digital sales slow down at Target as omni-channel consumers return to the stores - the future lies this way?:

Total revenue grew 9.5% year-on-year to top $25 billion. Digital sales were up 10% year-on-year - that’s down from the giddying 195% growth for the same quarter last year as well as down sequentially from Q1 when the growth rate was 50%. At the same time, footfall in-store has risen 13% year-on-year, accounting for the majority of Q2 growth.

But if you think Target regrets its omni-channel wager, you'd be wrong. Stuart quotes Target CEO Brian Cornell:

The last 18 months have proven, beyond a doubt, the flexibility and resilience of both our team and our business model. And while sales in stores have been soaring so far this year, our operations and the team have demonstrated how they can pivot seamlessly between stores and digital commerce based on how our guests choose to shop.

That might sound omni-dreamy, but Target has proven the model with a host of same-day services, including in-store pickup, Drive Up, and Shipt. Together, those services grew 55% this year, and 270% last year.

Stuart finds a similar story playing out at Walmart, in Changing the business to be "more digital" - Walmart's challenge as the Vaccine Economy's 'new normal' takes shape. Walmart's digital surge has slowed, as per their CEO Doug McMillan:

Customer behaviors changed during the quarter as people were shopping with us more in stores than online.

But McMillan is backing down from the omni-push either:

Recent quarters have demonstrated more than ever that our omni-channel strategy is the right one as we serve customers regardless of how they want to shop.

I still don't think consumer behavior is predictable - not when the pandemic remains as such. An omni-channel strategy is the blatantly obvious hedge against that unpredicability. Heck, as Stuart documented, even Macy's is starting to figure that out: Macy's 5 million new customers as omni-channel turnaround plan shows clear signs of progress. That doesn't mean getting omni-channel right is easy.

What remains to be seen is how well a massive store footprint will serve retailers versus e-commerce pure plays, and Amazon's always-aggressive moves. If you want to hear me getting grilled on such topics (and returning serve), check out my appearance on the Commerce Talks retail podcast.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Facial recognition may be widely used, but that doesn't mean it's used appropriately. Derek spells out the high stakes in Campaigners call for ban on use of facial recognition tech in UK. You don't hear a defense of Shadow IT everyday, but Neil wants to call out those who stand in the way of BI ubiquity: Better decision-making requires better BI tools - and less fear-mongering about Shadow IT

Finally, my tea kettle blew a cap off I continued my series on changing enterprise events with So your company is customer-centric? Then your upcoming event better be hybrid. Fall event planners: there is still time to set a better tone on safety and virtual inclusion.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • The T-Mobile Breach Is Much Worse Than It Had to Be  - Should have probably saved this one for the whiffs section. What a disgraceful hack. Alas, I'd wager T-Mobile (flawed) practices are closer to the norm than the exception. WIRED quotes an attorney: "Generally speaking, it’s still the Wild West in the United States when it comes to the types of information companies can keep about us."
  • Are AI's recommendations curbing customer choice? - Raconteur, in its hits/misses debut and, apparently, finale, as it now appears as a registration wall for me. Maybe you'll be able to see it.
  • Building A Guiding Coalition for Change - Lora Cecere previews content from her upcoming supply chain insights show. Keeper quote: "Moving from inside-out to outside-in processes requires rethinking technology. Companies quickly realize that most of their applications are legacy, but the shifts cannot happen overnight. As a result, there is a focus on building a unified data model and improving interoperability to embrace disparate data."
  • Wanted: Disgruntled Employees to Deploy Ransomware - Krebs on Security warns that the ransomware stakes are rising: "The Lockbit 2.0 ransomware-as-a-service gang actually includes a solicitation for insiders in the desktop wallpaper left behind on systems encrypted with the malware." Yikes.
  • What is Innovation at SAP and How Far Can it Go? Josh Greenbaum muses on innovation, and why those obsessed with techno-gadget culture innovation sex appeal have lost the (enterprise) plot.
  • Stop calling DevOps teams 'DevOps teams' - I missed this punchy little ditty from Joe McKendrick while I was lollygagging poolside MIA.
  • Stanford AI experts warn of biases in GPT-3 and BERT models - How's this for an AI wake up call? "But [AI] foundation models have some very real downsides, explains Stanford computer science professor Percy Liang. They create 'a single point of failure, so any defects, any biases which these models have, any security vulnerabilities . . . are just blindly inherited by all the downstream tasks.'"

Overworked businessman


The inbox keeps on giving:

Meanwhile, I didn't know there was a global PowerPoint competition to look forward to each year:

About that low-code thing:

Some renowned IT experts bowed to the news:

Finally, on T-Mobile. Tech media lathered weak sauce onto the crummy news:

In WIRED's coverage, we got:

In an email overnight, T-Mobile shared details about the data breach it confirmed Monday afternoon. They’re not great.

Not great? What was T-Mobile doing with its fetishized/exposed collection of millions of social security numbers of people that are not even T-Mobile customers?

Why are we even talking about "no phone numbers were compromised, oh, that's good to hear" when the tools to capsize someone's finances were taken? Given how often T-Mobile data has been breached, they should just change their log in page to a picture of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Anyone can just help themselves to whatever they find there. Hey, at least they've been working hard on 5G, so identity thieves can swap out your SIM card even faster. There's no way to spin this one folks... 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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