Enterprise hits and misses - site outages are a culture problem, and the AI jobs debate takes a practical turn

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed February 19, 2024
Summary:
This week - are site outages about leadership and culture, not just tech? And the AI jobs debate is rekindled, but with some practical skills advice. Return-to-office versus remote work won't go away, and AI service chatbots get whiffy.

loser-and-winner

Lead story - Are outages linked to cultural problems? Lessons on risk from digital leaders

Are outages connected to cultural and leadership problems? It's a potent/unexpected question - one that Mark Chillingworth examines in Digital leadership - outages and risk management require a cultural focus.

Chillingworth finds that UK digital leaders see two disconnects. One is the lack of urgency about the customer impact:

Our digital leaders worry that technology outages are not understood in terms of how devastating they are to the end consumer, which is hard to fathom when you see images of airports jammed up with passengers unable to fly or if another financial services provider wins business from you.

The second issue is reducing disruptive incidents to tech malfunctions:

But the digital leaders have a point: there still seems to be a disconnect between business being lost by technology failure and for other reasons.

How did we get here?  Though lack of internal transparency, and that persistent-but-unwanted IT disconnect:

Kevin Gohil, a former CIO and now AI, data and digital specialist, says many of the problems stem from that old favourite, poor alignment and communications between the CIO and the rest of the organization.

How do we move forward? Design resilient digital systems, for one. But if we don't break that out carefully, we have buzzword salad. Chillingworth concludes:

Nar’s recommendation and experience follows the lines of Team Topologies, an approach to optimize value delivery of the organization by working on organizational design alongside creating the right culture. One of the benefits of this approach is the reduction of team cognitive overload and, therefore, errors and risks.

diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • What the US AI Safety Consortium means for enterprises - George contrasts the US AI Safety Consortium with other nations' approaches.
  • UK Online Safety Act – children’s champions speak out - Chris weighs the impact of new safety legislation. Online bullying problems are serious (and behavior often deplorable), but the solutions are not straightforward: "It is fair to say that the Act has not been well received by everyone in the tech community, with fears expressed that it may – ironically – encroach on everyone’s online safety by casting encryption as the enemy in a political drama, rather than the enabler of online trust and secure transactions. Indeed, encryption can also protect vulnerable people, such as whistle-blowers or people in oppressed minorities and communities."

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

ZohoDay 2024 coverage - a slew of analysts flew into (semi)rural Texas to better understand Zoho's approach to transnational localism. Like all enterprise vendors, Zoho has it strengths and weaknesses. To Zoho's credit, the company tends to evoke a different type of enterprise conversation - and the interactive nature of these (mostly) non-NDA analyst events allows us to bring the lessons public.

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - George looks at a new player in the digital twins space in How credit scoring pioneer FICO is extending its reach into Digital Twins of Organizations. Then, in one of my favorite diginomica pieces of the year, George takes on OpenAI's chip ambitions in Sam Altman wants to spend $7 trillion to accelerate AI; how about we #acceleratetrust instead?

The super AI that Altman hopes to build may or may not be smarter or hallucinate any less than any one of us. But I am certain that it will be way dumber, less just, and accelerate the productive use of AI much slower than billions of people who trust each other even a little bit more. Not to mention businesses, governments, scientists, institutions, and citizens that trust each other more.

Finally, Alex issues a welcome to UiPath as a diginomica partner - and digs into why "intelligent automation" matters to today's enterprises. UiPath's first partner-authored article, 2024 outlook - AI at work, sets the inquisitive, data-rich tone we strive to achieve in this type of content.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Future Of Technology Jobs – Vijay Vijayasankar issues a notable post on the threats AI poses to tech livelihoods, and how individuals should respond:

The next at risk role is managers who are largely serving an aggregation function with no hands on skills – engineering managers who cannot code at all, sales managers who only look at CRM and don’t make client calls , Ops managers who have no skills in optimization and so on. AI is excellent at summarization – and we already have other tech that can aggregate numbers and make comparisons and so on. All organizations have inertia when it comes to attacking structure – so it might take time, but there will be no place to hide soon for people who don’t have higher order skills to either make more money for their employer or save costs.

Well said, though as I pointed out on Twitter/X:

We can see that from the AI use cases in this roundup, where we see signs of efficiency/value (less email support, more customer interaction), or saving 97 minutes a week on enterprise search (per person). Notable savings, but not a trigger for mass unemployment either. Panic isn't useful, but skills planning, open discussion on AI futures, and continuous learning sure is.

Overworked businessman

Whiffs

My colleague Phil Wainewright called me attention to a doozie:

This one rang a few bells for me:

Applying to some of the most common customer and food service jobs in the country now requires a long and bizarre personality quiz featuring blue humanoid aliens, which tells employers how potential hires rank in terms of “agreeableness” and “emotional stability.”

Glad this test wasn't around in my teenage working years, or I probably would have remained jobless...

Finally, I missed this lovely pandemic video treat, but it holds up well:

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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