Enterprise hits and misses - storefronts face off with e-commerce, hybrid work policies emerge, and workplace neurodiversity gets a call to action

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 6, 2021
This week - the retail plot thickens as retailers choose divergent strategies. Collaborative work technology is surging, but are new "hybrid" policies already stale? Your whiffs include my worst workplace nightmare coming true.


Lead story - Vaccine Economy retail face-off - storefront investments, or e-commerce push?

MyPOV: Common thinking is that retailers are hedging their bets with omni-plays, across stores and online. But Stuart sharpens that discussion with Gap goes online-only in the UK, Primark doubles down on stores - two extremes of omni-channel retail in the Vaccine Economy, but who's right?

Contrary to the advisory you saw everywhere, Primark stubbornly resisted the e-commerce pandemic imperative, and took big hits (though they have invested in social media and are working online stock availability checks, etc.). But now, as Stuart points out, Primark is roaring back. As per the CFO of Primark's parent company:

Some of the fashion is flying off the shelves. That is a return to people really wanting to buy things because they’re starting to go out again.

Meanwhile, The Gap can't sell to a walk-in if their corporate future depended on it has given storefronts the white flag in the UK. Stuart concludes:

So who wins here? Primark with its focus on the store or Gap cutting its costs by heading to an online-only model?  In reality, it may be too early to say definitively. There’s still a sense of re-awakening when it comes to non-essential retail with shoppers enjoying getting back into stores to wander the aisles.  In my city, the lines outside Primark went right around the block on the first day of re-opening as shoppers poured into the store to satisfy pent-up demand.

As Stuart notes, that re-opening surge will level off. We'll see if a store like Primark can capitalize on the absence of some big competitors. Stuart sees one thing missing from retail analyst views:

People actually want to buy what Primark has to sell. And the blunt reality for Gap is that people don’t want to buy what it has to sell and haven’t for a long time.

No amount of omni-maneuvering can fix that. For an unexpected omni-channel success story, how about Stuart on his old nemesis, Bed, Bath & Beyond? Bed, Bath & Beyond's omni-transformation turnaround continues. It can be done!

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, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Cath raises a critical issue in COVID-19 has widened the digital divide - how can we bridge the gap? The power of customer reviews (and the potential of sentiment analysis to act on them) is a a key theme in Gary's latest use case, Kia UK motors ahead via AI-powered customer experience.

Chris reports back on another drones conference, with decidely mixed reviews on our robotic futures in Drones - are we opening our skies to nuisance and chaos? Madeline issues a bro culture warning in AI, bro? No! How do we stop AI being the next tech 'bro' domain?

Finally, Phil issued a tour de force on new hybrid work policies - and collaboration vendor news, The hybrid workplace - we're all feeling our way, who grasps the whole picture? As Phil points out, only the outliers are really challenging workplace convention. Most of these new hybrid work "policies' are clumsy at best. And yet, these vendors' own tools let us do more than their supposedly flexible employee policies would allow. Paradox indeed. As Phil wrote:

This is really about the shift from the old analog world to a new, digitally augmented future of work that's far more sustainable, inclusive and productive than what went before. And as I warned last year, many will resist its inevitable rise.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top eight

Overworked businessman


I don't know how bad this IBM internal email outage actually was, but whenever you can make gratuitous mentions of Lotus Notes, it's a whiffy win:

Should I throw LinkedIn under the bus again, or is this really about "modern" APIs, or is this really about those of us who opt into these free systems with casual understanding of how we can be compromised? I don't know, but let's call it a whiff regardless:

Finally, this should have made the column last week, but hat tip to Jonathan Becher for accelerating my personal dystopia:

As I responded to Becher: "That would be the end of my career, yikes." Hopefully that will take a few more years to make its way to the diginomica team... 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.

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