Lead story - ERP’s new direction - it’s coming from the outside
Brian sees a bounty of ERP innovations coming. But here's the big ol' catch: they might not be coming from ERP vendors:
While technologies like AI/ML and RPA have been around for a while, the power and ease of use for these has improved dramatically in recent time. It’s now common to find solutions built on modern platforms. The new tech stack within these means that users can:
- Develop new white space apps with no- or low-code tools.
- Develop these apps without IT help.
- Integrate a growing number and type of databases to these tools.
While "AI/ML" might conjure up sexy new features, Brian makes another key point. Many benefits are eminently practical:
These tools can shave days/weeks out of approval timeframes. They can rescue accounting, HR and other users from the tedium of dealing with repetitive events (eg, processing employee paid time off requests). And possibly one of the more important benefits comes from identifying new, non-standard or unfamiliar events that warrant human scrutiny or concern.
Brian goes on to cite specifics, from Automation Anywhere to Workato (process automation) to OneStream (AI-enabled EPM/CPM) to Auditoria (finance RPA). The question is: where does this leave ERP vendors? What is their play here? Brian urges a "rethinking" of ERP and makes the ring-fence argument for CXOs: "I have yet to meet a CEO, CFO or CIO who wants to upgrade or replace their ERP software unless there’s simply no choice."
Needless to say, ERP vendors cannot just
sit on their collective behinds and cheer on these new solutions. If ring-fencing prevails as the dominant transformation model, the so-called "ERP back office" will eventually wither into cloud application workloads, as specialist cloud vendors break off more and more chunks (example: cloud-based CPQ engines). Instead of losing market share quickly via "rip and replace," ERP vendors would therefore shrink over time, and lose even more boardroom relevance.
I believe the future of ERP, if there is one, is deep/rich verticals - a cloud industry backbone, if you will, NOT a back office (this may sound bloody obvious but remember, ERP became entrenched as a [mostly] horizontal play). Now ERP must become a logistical backbone (err, platform, plus community plus industry experts) that plays quite nicely with whatever third party tools the business wants - and plugs into whatever native AI or data platform the ERP vendor provides (or else their robust APIs). Does that sound like many ERP vendors you know today? I can think of a couple...
At any rate, Brian is putting ERP vendors on notice here. He's not wrong.
Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week
- Omni-channel retail realities in the Vaccine Economy - learnings from Walmart, Macy's and Lowe's - If you've missed Stuart's notable retail coverage the last week weeks, this is a good catchup. Yes, there is a retail push to some kind of Vaccine Economy normalcy. But as Stuart concludes, if you don't have your omni-act together, you are in trouble. Pay tech lip service, and be held to account: "What does emerge from front line testimony so far is that token deference to the concept of omni-channel capabilities as a tactic is a thing of the past. The past 18 months have made that crystal clear to everyone and whatever lies ahead, the agility demanded by consumers of their retailers is not going to go away."
- The digital risers and fallers in this year’s global country rankings revealed - Derek's got some good news: some countries are digitally kicking butt ("digital rises" if you will). And some bad news: that list doesn't include the US, UK, Germany or and Japan. This year's winner's circle: China, Canada, Italy, and Brazil.
- Web site accessibility is the right imperative - but why are so many organizations failing to invest? The data on web accessibility commitments isn't exactly flattering. Why? I asked Avasant's Computer Economics group for answers.
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Workday acquires Zimit to bring CPQ automation to the services industry - Remember what I was saying about ERP-as-industry backbone and CPQ? Phil on Workday's latest move: "This is a 'white space' opportunity where no automation currently exists in most companies."
- Google readies Workspace for hybrid world of work - Kurt turns his exacting analysis back to Google's hybrid work play: "The substance of Google's product announcements and recommendations isn't as significant as the fact that they reflect the new hybrid organizational reality."
- Atlassian continues to be the dark horse in the digital teamwork market - Phil shares the latest Atlassian updates, via his chat with CRO Cameron Deatsch: "The free tier arrived just in time to meet the sudden need to quickly add digital tools in the pandemic, and is fueling a 'land-and-expand' strategy."
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- Salesforce Service Cloud introduces AI-powered workflows, Slack integration and conversation mining - Derek
- Uncertainty levels remain high, but customers are embracing increased spend, says Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn - Stuart
- SOCAR Malaysia drives towards in-app personalization with Confluent - Derek
Jon's grab bag - UK readers get their get fix with this two-fer, first from Derek: UK outlines proposed changes to GDPR - what businesses can expect. Then from Stuart: Broadband Britain can be done, but it needs to stop being so damn difficult to achieve.
Neil returns to his evaluation of Quantum computing in Quantum computing today - commercially viable, or held up by technical obstacles? j Finally, I
blew another gasket over dead services made a fresh case for the power of curation in Twitter silenced Nuzzel, so what's next? Why social news aggregators matter to content curators.
Best of the enterprise web
My top eight
- Strained supply chains keep U.S. producer prices hot - another angle on our logistics conundrums, via reader Clive Boulton. A twist on our logistics shortage comes with the headache of chip shortages. The Verge delves in: Why the global chip shortage is making it so hard to buy a PS5.
- Last Week in AI #132: High-risk AI applications, AI can't be granted patents - if you don't track Last Week in AI, it's a handy roundup with links across AI-for-business and AI ethics. One hotly debated AI story comes out of the EU's push to define AI risk levels: The Fight to Define When AI Is ‘High Risk’.
- Surprise! Many Enterprise Buying Teams Don’t Know Their Own Buying Process - Just when you thought the enterprise buying process was mysterious enough, Gartner's Hank Barnes has a few more curveballs: "The idea of putting decision making close to the groups that will be getting the most value seems like a good idea But it also means that you will have a lot of people involved in big buying decisions that they don’t make on a regular basis."
- How to orchestrate customer journeys in real time at scale - "Autonomous customer journey orchestration" fueling a "real-time interaction engine"? Not many could get away with those hefty buzzwords and make it into this column - except in the whiffs section. Thomas Wieberneit pulled it off.
- How Docker broke in half - InfoWorld breaks down the strategic mistakes that turned Docker from a dominant company into a bit player.
- Offshore has become Walmart... as Outsourcing becomes more like Amazon - Phil Fersht of HfS is back in his services wheelhouse: "In the Virtual Economy, no one cares much about “offshore” as a strategy - it has become part of the fabric of managing a global operating model."
always-be-patching problematic security year continues, via Krebs: Microsoft: Attackers Exploiting Windows Zero-Day Flaw (includes info on address the flaw; there is no patch yet).
Meanwhile, the Matrix Resurrections (over)hype festival got to me a little bit:
"teasing the eye-popping and astonishing visuals" - which, after the first Matrix movie, unfortunately had to compensate for a bloated/ridiculous storyline featuring gratuitous underground clubbing scenes, etc. If this movie can salvage that mythological mess I'll be shocked. https://t.co/yraHTbS4xm
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 9, 2021
Closer to the enterprise, AI whiffery was on the agenda:
Scientists develop AI to predict the success of startup companies https://t.co/UG9blLeRTt
"Their results show that these models can predict the outcome of a company with up to 90% accuracy. "
-> but since 90 percent of all startups fail, I could easily match this percentage.
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 11, 2021
More AI gaffes as GPT-3 enters the trough of disillusionment:
GPT-3 mimics human love for ‘offensive’ Reddit comments, study finds https://t.co/ZTO0XlRYJ4
"both DialoGPT and GPT-3 were almost twice as likely to agree with an offensive comment than a safe one."
-> other than mimicking the worst of human behavior AI text tools are great
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 12, 2021
Meanwhile, I got a tad worked up over a remote work report peeps were heaping praise on. Yes, the report is worthwhile - but I took issue with how it was framed:
Interesting data but I strongly disagree with framing this study as a "remote work experiment" at scale. This is an extreme pandemic work adaptation, big difference. It is not a true test of the art of the possible with more flexible workstyles. (1/x) https://t.co/IyojW7yULi
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) September 12, 2021
You can read the rest of my banter on Twitter, but the gist is that without proper framing, those attached to centralized office culture will use this data to back up the push to a normalcy that will never really come back - and was creatively stifling to begin with. Sound fun? Oh, and Den Howlett shared (or had?) a customer service meltdown; I might need to return to that one next week... See you then.
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.