Enterprise hits and misses – retailers confront the digital supply chain, employers face reskilling, and Amazon gets TikToked

Enterprise hits and misses – retailers confront the digital supply chain, employers face reskilling, and Amazon gets TikToked
Jon Reed
Sun, 07/12/2020 – 01:43

This week – retailers get a digital supply chain gut check, while the return-to-work push faces obstacles. Microsoft Teams gets evaluated, Facebook gets called out (again), and Amazon makes life hard on itself.


Lead story – Why are so few retail supply chains digital? And what role should data science play?

MyPOV: Time to dig into the retail tech engine. Chris kicked things off with Why are so few retail supply chains digital? Lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 crisis:

Behind all of these epic challenges is another, perhaps larger one: managing the supply chain, which has itself been disrupted by lockdowns that have rolled across the globe, pulling apart networked relationships and demand forecasting… After all, what is any bricks-and-clicks store but a branded supply chain that is displayed to passing customers?

Chris cites a new study from WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group):

[The study] finds that just 15% of retailers worldwide have what WMG calls “digitally-ready supply chains”. This has made it difficult for them to beat a path through COVID-19 disruption, is the report’s grim conclusion.

The retailers in this report are mostly from “three exposed groups” – supermarkets, clothing outlets, and grocery stores. That’s a bad spot to be in – especially if you’re relying on legacy tech and spreadsheets to pore your way out somehow. In a sense, Coronavirus has simply increased the heat of vulnerable links in the retail chain. Chris concludes:

Take COVID-19  out of the picture and the same challenges remain. The lesson? Modernize now to survive.

Can data science be part of a winning retail strategy? Jess picks that up in her use case, ThirdLove looks to data science for support in meeting its inclusive retail goals Check this quote from ThirdLove on combining “art and science” :

The data science and analytics team are the science side of this: they’re the information lever that we pull to drive all our other marketing functions, and that’s an integral part of my approach. But that being said, there’s also the art of all this, you know?

So the marketing teams come in and take the insight that data provides but add to it the human element – a little bit of gut instinct and a lot of experience – to really understand consumer behaviour and what’s happening in the wider marketplace from an overall trend perspective.

Give me that art-and-science mix anyday. That beats the heck out of the get-your-(overpriced)-AI-poundcakes-here “AI is personalization magic” crowd.

Diginomica picks – my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. :

Microsoft Teams hit the enterprise newswire this week:

SAP and ASUG’s virtual events are in the books, but every SAP answer creates newer, SAPpier questions. Owen tackles the pressing ones:

Virtual events – summer roundup – We wrapped up a meaty IFS MindFuel event, with fresh debates and use cases:

Meanwhile, Phil put a use case ribbon on FinancialForceX:

Jon’s grab bag – No, not every interview is exceptional. But for me, this one was: CEOs on surviving the pandemic – will long-term optimism prevail over economic concerns and business disruption?  Joe McKendrick honed in on a keeper:

Stuart and Jerry teamed up for a scorching take on Facebook’s ongoing habit of bottom-feeding for our collective currency self-incrimination: The buck stops with Zuckerberg for Facebook’s civil rights shortcomings says…Facebook’s own audit report.

If I’m an Internet founder, I’m pretty much in the bell jar right now. But as Chris reports, Vint Cerf is way too busy trying to make things better to indulge: Confessions of an Internet pioneer – Vint Cerf’s 2020 vision with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story – Reskilling and remote working to recover in the next normal

MyPOV: Even a remote work advocate like myself must admit: the problem of recruitment and upskilling is tougher in remote settings. Especially when it comes to creating a welcoming and inspiring culture. As a team of McKinsey writers note, even in the downturn some companies have had to urgently upskill: UK-based Tesco recruited 35,000+ employees in ten hectic days in March; U.S.-based CVS plans to hire for 50,000 new positions.

How do you get there? As per McKinsey, Chinese company Ping An had a successful remote push based on these principles:

  • Establish smaller cross-functional teams, “with clear objectives and a common purpose” 
  • “Take security seriously and established a confidentiality culture, mandated awareness training, and limited data access to a need-to-know basis.”

Reskilling and upskilling are another matter. I maintain companies expect too many skills out-of-the-box –  largely fail at effective training and upskilling of diverse talent. Sure, deep-pocketed firms like Amazon, Walmart and JPMorgan Chase are investing here, but too many companies aren’t. McKinsey raises the crucial point: before we retrain, we better know what we are going for:

While near-term upskilling efforts may need to focus on enabling effective remote working, longer-term reskilling efforts will need to be more holistic—and address issues across strategy, skills, and social responsibility.

Creative ways of identifying unconventional candidates?” Now we’re onto something…

Cybersecurity picks

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


So the TikTok security wars are heating up, with Wells Fargo the latest to tell workers to delete the app. But it’s going to be hard to top Amazon for sheer TikTok whiffery: The ban that wasn’t: Amazon’s TikTok reversal leaves tech world wondering WTH? Asking employees to remove TikTok by email was “a mistake”? Yeah, very well handled Amazon, very well done.

Changing the subject: Garanimals anyone?

But the award for most ridiculous tech headline of the week goes to notorious headline exaggerator Wired: 5G Was Going to Unite the World—Instead It’s Tearing Us Apart. Yeah, of all the dangers the world faces, it’s 5G that’s going to do us in. I’m sure nationalism has nothing to do with it – it’s 5G that’s to blame, yeah. I’m sure blockchain isn’t helping either. Oh wait, I ruined next week’s headline.

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.

Image credit – Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa – all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure – Workday, ASUG, IFS, FinancialForce and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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