Enterprise hits and misses - Walmart and Target are ready for Black Friday, but who else is? Low-code and AI dominate as event season winds down

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed November 22, 2021
Summary:
This week - big retailers say they are ready for the holiday surge - but will their optimism hold? As fall event season winds down, low-code and AI are buzzword pals. But does the hype hold up? Your whiffs include swallowing AirPods, rideshares in the sky, and "masterclasses."

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Lead story - As holiday season looms, big retailers express confidence

Are retailers ready for a defining holiday season? If you judge by Target and Walmart, the answer appears to be yes. Stuart takes on Target's Q3 earnings in What supply chain crisis? Target CEO Brian Cornell predicts an omni-channel Holidays boom.

How is Target planning to avoid a holiday supply shortfall? Start with hiring 30,000 supply chain workers. But that's not all. Stuart quotes CEO Brian Cornell: 

Given that we were already anticipating tight conditions many months ago, the team has been writing this year's holiday purchase orders much earlier than last year to proactively mitigate the risk of both known and unexpected delays. We're also benefiting from really strong performance across our domestic transportation network.

With goods in stock, Stuart explains, Target will shift its focus to customer experience, with new point of sale systems and a new service initiative all set up. Sounds like Target is ready - well, as long as they got their demand forecasting right.

Consumers appear ready to get back into the stores, but they've got digital devices on hand for surgical strikes - and omni-convenience. It's that type of shopper that Walmart is preparing for, as Stuart documents in Walmart's digitally-ready for the Holidays as bosses talk up AI and ML to cope with Vaccine Economy retail challenges. And how will AI and ML fit in? Stuart quotes John Furner, CEO Walmart US:

We're using ML (Machine Learning) and AI to do a number of different things. We used it to help adjust to the pandemic and use the stores as fulfillment hubs. We use it for predictive baskets, smart substitutions. Our in-stock assistance is AI empowered. And this modernization that we've been talking about is continuing, which unlocks more capability to use that data. We've moved 153 petabytes of data to the cloud so far, and we've got room to grow there.

Based on a ridiculous e-commerce episode with Walmart that exposed a lack of order management dexterity, I'd say there is room to grow indeed...  I'll find out what Stuart thinks about my personal debacle Monday. And, hot off the presses, looks like retailers not-named-Walmart-and-Target aren't feeling so dandy: Unhappy Holidays ahead as Coupa study finds supply chain crisis leaves retailers pessimistic. Stuart:

Meanwhile, onwards to the Holiday season and a changed retail environment.

Indeed - game on.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

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

So many events, so little time (before Thanksgiving) - diginomica's hybrid road show continues:

Unit4's Experience4U virtual user conference is a wrap, along with the companion analyst event in Boston that I attended:

Freshworks Refresh 2021 is in the books. Stuart added to our coverage with several nifty use cases, including:

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

  • When The Chickens Come Home To Roost - Speaking of supply chain woes, Lora Cecere issued another tough love reality check. Our biggest weakness? Lack of effective outside-in forecasting: "When transportation became a bottleneck and a constraint, there was no way for the average shipper to model the impact. Most continued running planning models assuming average leadtimes without variation."
  • Zero Trust: An Answer to the Ransomware Menace? - Count me amongst those wary of "zero trust" as a cure-all. Still, it has merits to consider: "Human error is the root cause of all cyberattacks, and zero trust puts the spotlight back on user identity and access management. Zero trust also helps reduce the attack surface significantly as internal and external users only have access to limited resources and all other resources are completely hidden."
  • Low code and no code may open more doors to artificial intelligence - ZDNet's headline implies another dose of happy talk about 'low code and AI going better together,' but underneath the headline, writer Joe McKendrick has a more reflective piece for us: "Not everyone agrees that low code and no code platforms can blaze a path to high-end application development -- at least not yet."
  • ERP Implementations: The Problems with “Best Laid Plans” - Shawn Stamp of UpperEdge has a Thanksgiving dose of ERP lessons learned for us: "Scope almost always increases over the life of an ERP project, because slogans quickly crumble once process owners and end users realize that “standard solutions” aren’t going to get the job done."
  • The new key to automotive success: Put customer experience in the driver’s seat - McKinsey writes: "Customer experience has replaced engineering prowess as carmakers’ critical battleground." No doubt that's true, but I'm not sure if it's a good thing. I kind of like engineering prowess...
  • Should Your Website Drive Prospects to a Demo? - Seems like the answer is a no-brainer yes, but Dave Kellogg isn't so sure.
  • Facebook’s Algorithm Is Broken. We Collected Some Suggestions On How To Fix It. - I picked this piece, less as another grilling of Facebook, and more as a deeper look at the commercial imperatives of flawed algorithms.

Overworked businessman

Whiffs

Headline-of-the-week honors were tight this week, with a woman who got kicked out of her church for cilantro (confused with marijuana), a close second, but I'll go with this: Woman swallows AirPod instead of painkiller, records audio from stomach. Speaking of cheeseball headlines, when a headline is as vague, yet over-the-top as this one: Delta Air Lines just made a chilling admission that'll affect all flyers, I assume there is an underlying insecurity about the article itself. Reading the article, I can see why.

Oh, and did you know we'll all be floating around on air taxis by 2024?

What a load... Kurt Marko was busy puncturing hype balloons also:

Oh, and guess who was invited to too many "masterclasses"?

Seriously, if someone out there can explain to me the difference between a "masterclass" and a "class" I'm all ears. Oh, I know - a "masterclass" is where someone tells you what your "superpower" is... 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.