Monday, June 2, 2014

A Poster Child for Platforms – Amazon in the Enterprise

A Poster Child for Platforms – Amazon in the Enterprise

I received a good amount of feedback on my last post about how platforms make the world go round – more than usual.  Thanks for the comments.

That post prominently applauded the impact felt by the success of in paving the way for enterprises to recognize the opportunity to rethink and redesign how business processes are served.  I also gave a nod to the fact that the business principle that underlies platform-based operations is cascading across many other front-office, mid-office, and back-office disciplines.

Well, it’s appropriate for me to tip my hat to another of the trailblazers in this transformation from legacy-laden to platform-nimble: 
Most of us might think foremost of books and online retailing when we hear the name Amazon.  Increasingly, businesses are recognizing Amazon for Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a leader in provisioning compute/storage infrastructure services – the platform for computing capacity.

Yet, Amazon has embraced and promoted the notion of platforms so thoroughly that it prevails in virtually everything that they do.  It’s how the leadership think about the consumer, the access to the consumer, and the ongoing relationship with the consumer.  Ditto for the enterprise. 
My colleague John Rossman just published a fascinating book called The Amazon Way. 

John’s perspectives are also published via his blog at
A Business Week interview with John is also fascinating.

John and I frequently compare notes on the profound changes we see in businesses of all sizes and forms.  John is fond of telling the story of FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon – as one of the more successful distribution “as a service” platforms that is helping to drive efficiencies for so many businesses.

In a recent meeting with a CIO, just after AWS had made one of its recent dramatic price adjustments for its IaaS services, I was asked: "What are we supposed to do with our existing ITO agreements when the market for those services is so highly variable?"  Indeed ... platforms deliver agility at an entirely new scale and pace.
If you think that Amazon has revolutionized retailing, just wait to see what it is planning for the enterprise.  John’s insights give a sense to the genuine conviction that Amazon’s leaders hold for platform-based business models.