Enterprise hits and misses - vendors face the transformation imperative, careers get an AI and startup jolt

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed July 22, 2019
This week - CIOs face the transformation challenge - but software vendors must do the same. Summer is an ideal time for a career think - with AI and startup lessons in mind. Your whiffs include stranger than fiction doozies, and a high-on-AI award.

King Checkmate

Lead story - The diverging challenges of the enterprise CIO by Martin Banks

MyPOV: We all have our enterprise bones of contention. One of mine is captured in Martin's latest:

Are vendors undergoing a complementary digital transformation, or are they just happy with the prospect of selling more `stuff’?

When are vendors going to follow the implications of “cloud” down the rabbit hole, to what is really driving change: a different way of working with software vendors entirely? Martin underscores the point:

Digital transformation is an area where user businesses – and the vendors that serve their needs – now need to work in even closer, longer lasting partnership. Yet the vendor side of the equation, and how the transformation process affects them, has tended to be restricted [to technology].

Martin explores how vendor Computacenter is making that shift. It really does come down to better partnerships:

As Computacenter demonstrates here, the ability to be long term partners willing to help, counsel and manage business process delivery rather than just deliver `technology’ is now becoming one of the key skills required.

Yes, talk of "partnership" becomes happybullpucky brochureware pretty quickly. But I’ve seen it time and again: the right partnership can overcome the inevitable project curve balls. Full stop - customer dependence on anyone partner is always inherently problematic, no matter how battle-tested the relationship. Ergo, two related enterprise trends are worth a close look:

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style.

Microsoft got the scrutiny this week, with Kurt looking at the Microsoft Insight partner angle (Microsoft uses symbiotic relationship with partners to bootstrap cloud, AI, collaboration services). Typical partner "thank you for your leadership" techno-happy talk? No, says Kurt: “The company realizes that its vast army of partners, MSP and certified professionals provide a unique strategic advantage against its two largest competitors.”

Phil hit the collaboration angle in Microsoft Teams vs best-of-breed in the battle of the collaborative canvas In a comment, I argued Teams wouldn’t be in the thick of it unless it was best-of-breed also. Microsoft also factors into Stuart’s DoD cloud update: Amazon or Microsoft set to pick up $10 billion DoD cloud deal after Oracle complaints rejected in court.

More vendor picks:

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon’s grab bag - Enjoying the viral FaceApp? Well, Stuart’s about to tinkle in your online punchbowl critique your fun away: “What is it going to take before people understand that that funny free viral app that everyone’s using is collecting personal data that enterprises in a digital economy are slavering to get their hands on.” (FaceApp and data privacy - the joke’s on you). Ah, but he’s not done killjoying: “If you can’t be bothered to read the small print, that’s your problem.” If only Stuart was wrong...

I recently mocked Domino’s horrendously deteriorated online ordering on Twitter, but evidently Domino’s isn’t hung up on my bleatings. As Stuart reports in the The self-driving pizza - coming to your door fresh from Domino’s , Domino’s is gambling that autonomous vehicles go better with anchovies.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - summer career rethinks, with AI and startups in mind  

MyPOV: As the enterprise news cycle mercifully slows down and beach blankets come out, so does career navel-gazing. Gut checks are good; especially of the hard-won variety. Enterprise software startup ace Dave Kellogg gets it rolling with Career Decisions: What To Look For In a Software Startup. Kellogg’s criteria are not really limited to startups. Take this on culture fit:

Culture runs deep in both people and in companies and when it’s a not a fit, it’s very hard to fake it.

Yep. And this:

My advice here is to go with your gut and if something feels off even when everything else is on, you should listen to it.

That bold emphasis is mine - that little zinger is probably the one we’ve all fallen prey too. Sometimes a great job offer doesn’t pass our internal smell test. Saying no in those cases is everything.

No one does the get off your rump roast and make a change “AI is coming” motivational rant better than Phil Fersht of HfS. He’s in top career fitness instructor form in Want to survive the AI era? YOU have a simple choice to make. After we all do fifty pushups, Fersht exhorts us to apply that same vigor to our skills: 

An alarming 37% of enterprise leaders do not feel their current workforce is aligned to their innovation strategy.

That skills gap comes from WEF data. But for those plan to tip their tippy toes into what’s next, Fersht has more pushups for you:

There are no half-measures here, folks - you can’t dip in and out when it comes to driving automation and AI solutions – people are quickly getting found out for having a veneer of understanding.  Either you decide to focus on really understanding how to apply these solutions to your business, or decide you can’t be bothered and focus on maintaining the old way of keeping your business’s operations lights on.

Yep, I'm on board. The tougher question is how to attack it: soft skills, tech skills, data/analytics skills? Fersht has some good answers there - including adaptability, problem-solving, and knowing your audience. He's right that AI and automation still need to overcome adoption hurdles, but I subscribe to the notion that we should pro-actively try to automate our jobs in the areas we can. The amount of online resources to push this forward is ridiculous - I've been checking out Qlik's data literacy courses this summer.

Other standouts

  • Passwords Are The Weakest Defense In A Zero Trust World - Louis "Zero Trust" Columbus is back, and he's set on undermining our wavering confidence in passwords. Why? Because mobile access of enterprise data is surging, and hackers are salivating. Columbus: "Low-friction identity management approaches improve user experiences while simultaneously enhancing security."
  • Fatal Flaws in the Digital Transformation and ERP Software Industry - Eric Kimberling strives for the "bite the hand that feeds you" award with his takedown of digital transformation. But risk awareness is better than flogging buzzwords anyday.

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


It was an absolute doozy of a week for “stranger than fiction” headlines. Here’s just a sampling:

My state police seized the day:

Via Jonathan Becher, we’ve got this truly epic “words matter” whiff:

And, I had to give up road trip credentials:

Analyst Josh Greenbaum is threatening to write a country song about this...

Finally, this week’s “We’re high on the fumes of AI, and it feels all right” award goes to DigitalTrends.com for this headline: IBM’s Wimbledon-watching A.I. Is Poised To Revolutionize Sports Broadcasts. What they are describing here is sorta cool, I guess - but if automatically packaging sports highlights qualifies as a revolution, I’m not sure why George Washington bothered to cross the Delaware in the first place.

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.