Amazon: Purveyor of Innovative Disruption

When you think about Amazon and the revolutionary effect it’s having on markets worldwide, several sayings (or slogans) come to mind:

  • “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” (Unknown)
  • “Just do it” (Nike)
  • “Don’t worry, be happy” (Bobby McFerrin)

Companies everywhere – in the technology channel too – are staying awake at night obsessing about how to beat Jeff Bezos’ online-retail powerhouse at its own game. Meanwhile, Amazon marches on, brave and strong.

In a Webinar yesterday, “The Real Amazon Effect on the Channel,” Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group, suggests we start viewing things a little differently. “History is unfolding before us, and there’s no stopping the tide of change,” he said. “Amazon is emblematic of the changes taking place in our industry, in retail, and in society as a whole. The challenge isn’t trying to figure out how to beat Amazon. It’s observing the company’s best qualities and incorporating those into our own businesses.”

Yes, Amazon is disrupting life as we know it. It’s disrupting retail, Hollywood, and the media. Closer to home, it’s rattling the IT distribution space, B2B dynamics, software, and technology systems. But Amazon is also opening doors and generating opportunities for vendors and partners alike.

For a moment, let’s not think of Amazon as a friend, foe, or puzzle to be solved. Let’s think of Amazon as a teacher. What key lessons can we take away from this dominant force?

  • Day 1, every day. Amazon lives every day as if it’s the first – full of endless possibilities. There’s no room for complacency or standing still. Imagine what tech vendors and their channels can do with a mindset like that?
  • It’s all about the customer. Sounds obvious, right? But what’s made Amazon such a master of innovation is its ability to continuously enhance the customer experience. Low prices? Those were just the smoke and mirrors on Amazon’s debut stage. The real magic trick is delighting customers with easy, convenient, seamless shopping experiences. The same could be said for selling technology to partners and end users.
  • Reward performance, not promises. Forget SLAs or revenue targets. What have you done for me lately? In the technology space, we have to stop making excuses for underperforming partners. But performance isn’t just about dollars and cents. Vendors should focus on customer engagement and support, delivery of business outcomes, and the power of influence.
  • Efficiency is king. Internally, Amazon leverages small entrepreneurial teams for optimum collaboration and productivity. No fiefdoms here. Technology companies, too, would benefit from tight, efficient groups whose members are laser-focused on the task at hand: pleasing the almighty customer.
  • Go ahead; make a mistake (but learn from it too). Amazon encourages risk-taking and the mistakes that inevitably result. “Decisions are like software,” said Walsh. “If they don’t work, you can always roll them back.” But making the same mistakes over and over? That’s just insanity. Speaking of which…
  • If something’s not working, stop doing it. A prime example of this in the technology sector is vendors’ insistence on reviving their channels’ long tails – the 80 to 90 percent of underperforming partners that generate 10 to 20 percent of the revenue. Perhaps it would be better to take a page from Amazon’s playbook: If a partner isn’t adding value to the equation, cut it loose. Instead, focus more energy on how to interact better with strong partners, reassign roles and responsibilities, and reassess channel coverage.
  • Forget about keeping up with the Joneses. Constantly comparing yourself to peers and competitors is “a Cold War mentality, and it won’t make you any better,” Walsh said. “Who cares what everybody else is doing? All you need to know is what customers want and how to give it to them.”


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The Amazon Effect on the Channel

Amazon is an innovative and disruptive force that’s impacting several industries, including the channel. While many fear Amazon disrupting distribution and reseller channels, this multifaceted company provides many valuable examples of how to develop new products, transform service delivery and remain relevant in the market. In this groundbreaking research, 2112 CEO Larry Walsh will reveal why IT vendors’ shouldn’t fear Amazon’s expansion and, instead, take lessons on how to succeed in this ever-changing world and marketplace.