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Data Sheet—Friday, August 19, 2016

What’s the cost of a so-called “digital transformation”? Judging from recent layoffs hitting big business technology companies, it appears to be more than 60,000 jobs over the past year.

Cisco’s decision this week to slash 5,500 employees highlights an unfortunate truth in an era in which businesses are bombarded with the message that they must go “digital” or face irrelevancy and extinction. Essentially, Cisco wants to focus more on higher-growth product lines involving software and less on its slowing legacy networking hardware business.

Yes, businesses must stay competitive in a rapidly changing technological world. But doing so is not as easy as buying the latest software service in the cloud or analyzing buckets of marketing data that have been unexamined since the early 2000s.

There’s a human element that often gets overlooked when companies try to stay up to date with current technological trends. The quest for more “business agility” means that employees whose work is presumably no longer relevant or needed will be cut sooner rather than later.

The irony, though, is that many of the enterprise technology companies preaching the “go digital or go home” message are undergoing massive restructurings themselves, primarily because customers are no longer buying business technology in the same way as they used to.

Companies like Cisco, EMC, NetApp, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and IBM are all overhauling their businesses as customers change how they buy technology. As these established companies shift to more software-oriented products, the hardworking hardware teams that were once their crown jewels are being slashed.

It’s as cold as it is digital, and it’s a software-oriented transformation that these companies are making just to survive.

Jonathan Vanian is a writer at Fortune. Reach him via email.

 

BITS AND BYTES

Uber’s lawyers sure are busy this week. The takeover specialists are writing up another contract to cover the buyout of Otto, a 90-person self-driving truck startup started by former Google and Carnegie engineers. The labor law experts must rewrite another proposal for handling driver expenses after their $100 million settlement was rejected Thursday by a federal judge in San Francisco. And the tax team needs to convince Taiwan it shouldn’t owe sales tax. (New York Times, Reuters, Reuters)

This is Amazon’s latest strategy for attracting tech talent. The e-commerce and cloud services giant is creating far more part-time positions with flexible hours to support the work-life “ratio.” The clincher: These positions still come with generous employee benefits. Amazon is re-examining its workplace culture after harsh criticism last year. (Fortune)

Square signals European expansion. The mobile payments service, which is testing some services in London, is quietly hiring. Right now, Square focuses on the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Australia. In other news, it just won a pretty high-profile retail entrepreneur as a new customer, Kanye West. (Reuters, Fortune)

Yes, Oracle funds this Google critic. The secretive Campaign for Accountability usually lobbies for social rights. It also runs a permanent campaign called the Google Transparency Project. The software giant, which is still embroiled in an intellectual property skirmish with Google, just confirmed it’s a backer. (Fortune)

Microsoft continues open-source charm offensive. The software giant has released one of its most popular tools for developers, an administration product called PowerShell, on the Linux operating system. It’s another sign of CEO Satya Nadella’s willingness to accept a heterogenous computing world, something his predecessor resisted. (Fortune)

THE DOWNLOAD

Sprint CEO dishes on pricing, mergers, and his rivals. In much of Marcelo Claure’s first year, as Sprint was hemorrhaging customers and its stock price kept plumbing new lows, the Bolivian-born executive faced what some analysts said was an impossible job.

But Claure combined a savvy marketing campaign–featuring customers with chain saws and deeply discounted prices–with some clever financial engineering to get Sprint back on track. Fortune‘s Aaron Pressman quizzes him about what’s in store for the next 12 months.

Plus, the feud between Claure and T-Mobile CEO John Legere turns uglier.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Slack Rival Atlassian Beats It to the Punch With Video Chat,
by Heather Clancy

Twitter Shut Down 235,000 Terrorist Accounts This Year,
by Jeff John Roberts

Here’s Why Uber Is So Aggressive and In a Hurry, by Kia Kokalitcheva

Walmart’s E-Commerce Sales Finally Reignite, by Phil Wahba

Google’s International Startup Program Gets a Home in San Francisco, by Jonathan Vanian

ONE MORE THING

The death of Gawker isn’t something to cheer about. The company’s flagship site will be shut down next week—although buyer Univision plans to keep properties like Gizmodo and Jezebel. Love it or loathe it, Gawker “spoke truth to power”—and there’s a shortage of independent outlets willing to do the same. (Fortune)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

VMworld: Software-defined data centers and cloud computing strategies. (Aug. 28-Sept. 1; Las Vegas)

SAP SuccessConnect: The evolution of HR software. (Aug. 29-31; Las Vegas)

Oktane 16: Explore the role identity plays in connecting people and technology. (Aug. 29-31; Las Vegas)

BoxWorks: Box’s annual customer conference. (Sept. 6-8; San Francisco)

The Exchange Community: Workiva’s training and development event. (Sept. 7-9; San Diego)

nginx.conf: Strategies for application development and delivery. (Sept. 7-9; Austin, Texas)

Women in Product: A gathering of experienced female product managers. (Sept. 13; Menlo Park, Calif.)

GitHub Universe: For people building the future of software. (Sept. 13-15; San Francisco)

Oracle OpenWorld: The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18-22; San Francisco)

Gigaom Change: 7 transformational technologies. (Sept. 21-23; Austin)

Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26-29; Chicago)

Microsoft Ignite: Product road maps and innovation. (Sept. 26-30; Atlanta)

Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem meets. (Oct. 4-7; San Francisco)

Atlassian Summit: Tips and training for developers and project managers. (Oct. 10-13; San Jose, Calif.)

Virtuous Circle: The future of the Internet ecosystem. (Oct. 10-11; Menlo Park, Calif.)

Gartner Symposium/ITexpo: A gathering of CIOs and senior IT leaders.  (Oct. 16-20; Orlando, Fla.)

DellWorld: Dell’s annual global customer conference. (Oct. 18-20; Austin, Texas)

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: The world’s largest gathering of women technologists. (Oct. 19-21; Houston)

TBM Conference: Manage the business of IT. (Nov. 7-10; San Diego)

Drone World Expo: Commercial apps for unmanned aircraft. (Nov. 15-16; San Jose, Calif.)

AWS re:Invent: Amazon’s annual cloud conference. (Nov. 28-Dec. 2; Las Vegas)

 

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.

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