Write a 2 page double-spaced paper (no need to follow any writing format such as MLA or APA) addressing the following questions:
Gallaugher – Information Security – http://gallaugher.com/chapters p. 1
Amazon.com: An Empire Stretching from Cardboard Box to Kindle to Cloud1 a draft chapter provided for comment. Will eventually be included in the Summer 2013 version of the award-winning & low-cost textbook “Information Systems: A Manager’s Guide to Harnessing Technology”. © Copyright 2013, John M. Gallaugher, Ph.D. – for more info see: http://www.gallaugher.com/ Draft version last modified: May 3, 2013 – comments welcome [email protected] INTRODUCTION: LEARNING OBJECTIVES: After studying this section you should be able to:
1. Appreciate the breadth of businesses that Amazon competes in. 2. Understand that Amazon’s financial performance has not been consistent. 3. Begin to recognize the reasons for this performance inconsistency and set the stage
for the examination unfolding in subsequent sections. As CEO of tech industry research firm Forrester Research, George Colony is paid to predict the future. Firms spend big bucks for Forrester reports that cover trends and insight across the world of computing. So when Colony turned his attention to Amazon.com, the Internet retailer founded by Jeff Bezos, there were a lot of people paying attention. Colony proclaimed that the recently public firm would soon be “Amazon.toast” as larger traditional retailers arrived to compete online.1 Colony wasn’t the only Bezos-‐basher. Fortune, The Guardian, and Barron’s were among the publications to have labeled the firm “Amazon.bomb”. Bezos’ personal favorite came from a pundit who suggested the firm should be renamed “Amazon.org” adopting the domain of a non-‐profit since it’ll never make any money2. Amazon went seven whole years without turning a profit, losing over $3 billion during that time. The firm’s stock price had fallen from a high of $100 a share to below $6. Conventional wisdom suggested that struggling dot-‐coms were doomed as retail giants were poised to bring their strong off-‐line brands and logistics prowess to the Internet, establishing themselves as multi-‐channel dominators standing athwart the bloodied remains of the foolish early-‐movers. But during those seven years and through to this day, Bezos (pronounced BAY-‐zose) steadfastly refused to concentrate on the quarterly results Wall Street frets over. Instead, the Amazon founder has followed his best reckoning on where markets and technology were headed, postponing profit harvesting while expanding warehousing capacity, building e-‐commerce operations worldwide, growing one of the net’s most widely-‐used cloud computing platforms, leading the pack in eBook readers, and developing the first credible threat to Apple’s dominant iPad in tablets.
1 Faculty: I’ll post my personal slides online at gallaugher.com, but there is also a wonderful deck by FaberNovel that covers much of the content in this case. You can find it at: http://www.fabernovel.com/en/works/97-‐amazon-‐com-‐the-‐hidden-‐empire
Gallaugher – Information Security – http://gallaugher.com/chapters p. 2
Tellingly, Amazon’s first profit was posted the week one-‐time brick-‐and-‐mortar goliath Kmart went bankrupt. Kmart was also the former parent of another giant of the offline world, Borders, a firm that completely shuttered in the wake of Amazon’s dominance. And for Amazon, profits continued. In a three-‐year period following the introduction of the Kindle, Amazon’s net income climbed from $476 million to $1.15 billion. Barnes & Noble’s fell from $150 million to $37 million before dipping into the red. Punditry is a dangerous business, but Barron’s made up for the dot-‐bomb comment, putting Amazon on its cover under a headline proclaiming the firm the world’s best retailer. Fortune atoned by naming Bezos the “Businessperson of the Year”3. Amazon’s future continues to be hotly debated as the firm’s profitability swings wildly. Massive investments crushed Amazon profits in 2012, with the firm dipping $39 million into the red. Yet stock performance during this period suggests Wall Street expects a huge upside. And Amazon was recently named as having the “Best Reputation of any US corporation.”4 So is Amazon the “unstoppable monster of the tech industry” or a “charitable organization run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of customers”5? Both? Neither? SIDEBAR: Jeff Bezos & the Long Term (in his own words and more) “Our first shareholder letter, in 1997, was entitled, “It’s all about the long term.” If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.”6 Just how far ahead is Bezos’ time horizon? His personal investments include Blue Origin, a commercial rocketry and aviation firm that intends to send humans into space. Bezos has also built a 10,000 year clock deep inside a mountain on his ranch in West Texas. The timepiece plays an elaborate cuckoo- like sequence, composed by musician Brian Eno, to mark every year, decade, century, millennium and 10 millennia. How’s that for a symbol of long-term thinking!7 Why Study Amazon.com? Looking at the Internet’s largest retailer provides a context for introducing several critical management concepts such as cash efficiency and channel conflict. We see ways in which tech-‐fueled operations can yield above-‐average profits far greater than off-‐line players. We can illustrate advantages related to scale, the data asset, and the brand-‐building benefits of personalization and other customer service enhancements. Amazon’s Kindle business allows us to look into the importance of mobile computing as a vehicle for media consumption, a distribution channel for increased sales and advertising, a creator of switching costs, a gathering point for powerful data, and in competition for platform dominance. And the firm’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) business allows us to see how the firm is building a powerhouse cloud provider, generating new competitive assets while engaging in competition where it sells services to firms that can also be considered rivals.
Gallaugher – Information Security – http://gallaugher.com/chapters p. 3
KEY TAKEAWAYS: • Amazon is the largest online retailer, and has expanded to dozens of categories beyond
books. As much of the firm’s media business (books, music, video) becomes digital, the Kindle business is a conduit for retaining existing businesses and for growing additional advantages. And the firm’s AWS cloud computing business is one of the largest players in that category.
• Amazon takes a relatively long-‐view with respect to investing in initiatives and its commitment to grow profitable businesses. The roughly seven-‐year timeline is a difficult one for public companies to maintain amid the pressure for consistent quarterly profits.
• Amazon’s profitability has varied widely and analysts continue to struggle to interpret the firm’s future. However, studying Amazon will reveal important concepts and issues related to business and technology.
QUESTIONS & EXERCISES: 1. Which firms does Amazon compete with? 2. Investigate Amazon’s performance over the last five years. How has the firm done with
respect to revenue, net income, share price? How does this compare with competitors you’ve mentioned above?
3. What are some of the advantages in having a longer time horizon? What are some of the challenges? What needs to happen to enable Amazon to continue to ‘think long term’? What could derail this approach?
THE EMPEROR OF E-‐COMMERCE: LEARNING OBJECTIVES: After studying this section you should be able to:
1. Recognize how Amazon’s warehouse technology and systems are designed to quickly and cost-‐effectively get product from suppliers to customers with a minimum of error.
2. Understand how high inventory turns and longer accounts payable periods help fuel a negative cash conversion cycle at Amazon, and why this is a good thing.
3. Gain insight into various advantages that result from the firm’s scale and cost structure.
4. Appreciate how data can drive advantages not fully available to off-‐line firms, ranging from increased personalization to innovation and service improvements.
5. Identify the two-‐sides in Amazon Marketplace network effects, and why this is important in strengthening the firm’s brand.
6. Appreciate how mobile access is influencing opportunities through additional changes in how, where, and when consumers shop.
Amazon got its start selling books online. The firm’s first office was in a modest space boasting a then appealing 400 square foot basement warehouse in a low-‐rent area of Seattle, where neighboring establishments included the local needle exchange, a pawn shop, and “WigLand.”8
Gallaugher – Information Security – http://gallaugher.com/chapters p. 4
Today the firm is decidedly larger. Its ninety plus distribution centers worldwide boast well over 26 million square feet of warehouse space. 9 And Amazon is now the world’s largest online retailer in dozens of categories. The stylized smile in the Amazon logo doubles as an arrow pointing from A to Z (as in “we carry everything from…”). A new downtown Seattle headquarters will take up three full city blocks anchored by three signature office towers. How does a firm that sells products that pretty much any other retailer can provide, grow and create competitive advantages that keep rivals at bay? Look to the napkin – Amazon’s headquarters lobby sports the framed vision scribbled out by Amazon’s chief (see below).
Figure X: Amazon’s “Wheel of Growth”, adapted from a Jeff Bezos napkin scribble (note: publisher needs to see if permission for use is required/can be obtained – has been widely shown in Amazon Investor Relations
slides & reprinted in the media. At the heart are three pillars of Amazon’s business: large selection, convenience, and lower prices. Says Bezos “I always get the question, what’s going to change in 10 years? I almost never get asked, what’s NOT going to change in the next 10 years? That’s the more important question, because you can build a business around things that are stable. [Things like] low prices… faster delivery[offering customer convenience]. Vast selection.”10 The three pillars of selection, convenience, and low prices reinforce one another and work together to create several additional assets for competitive advantage. Exceptional customer experience fuels a strong brand that makes Amazon the first place most consumers shop online. More customers allow the firm to provide more products, creating scale. Amazon also opens its website up to third-‐party sellers – and a dynamic where more customers attract more sellers which attract still more customers (and so on). That virtuous cycle of buyer-‐seller growth is a two-‐sided network effect, yet another source of competitive advantage. And all this activity allows Bezos and Company to further sharpen
Gallaugher – Information Security – http://gallaugher.com/chapters p. 5
the business battle sword by gathering an immensely valuable data asset. Each digital movement is logged, and the firm is constantly analyzing what users respond to in order to further fine-‐tune the customer experience, squeeze out costs, and drive profits. Let’s look at each of these items and see how Amazon’s bold tech-‐based strategy is realizing additional advantages in the domain of marketing, accounting, and operations. Fulfillment Operations – Driving Selection, Customer Convenience, and Low-‐Price Amazon has always sold direct to consumers, but it didn’t always do this well. The firm’s early warehousing was a shambles of inefficient, money-‐burning processes. Said one analyst, Amazon’s “inventory, and warehouse operating costs, [were] so high they made old-‐fashioned retailers look efficient.”11 The situation was once so bad that in order to stay in business Amazon had to issue more than $2 billion in bonds. To fix the problem, Amazon looked to others for talent, hiring away both the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Logistics Officer from the world’s largest retailer, Walmart (Walmart sued, the two eventually settled out of court). But raiding Walmart’s talent pool wasn’t enough. Amazon’s warehouse and technology infrastructure is radically different than any conventional retailer. While Walmart warehouses that support its superstores ship large pallets of diapers to thousands of its retail locations, Amazon warehouses pick and pack boxes of disparate individual items, sending packages to millions of homes. To build a system that worked, Amazon focused on costs, data, and processes so that it could figure out what was wrong and how it could improve. One effort, “Get the C.R.A.P. out” focused on products that “Can’t Realize Any Profits”. The firm’s Senior Vice President of North American Operations recalls visiting a Kentucky warehouse and watching a staffer spend 20 minutes packaging up a folding chair – a …
We are a professional custom writing website. If you have searched a question and bumped into our website just know you are in the right place to get help in your coursework.
Yes. We have posted over our previous orders to display our experience. Since we have done this question before, we can also do it for you. To make sure we do it perfectly, please fill our Order Form. Filling the order form correctly will assist our team in referencing, specifications and future communication.
2. Fill in your paper’s requirements in the "PAPER INFORMATION" section and click “PRICE CALCULATION” at the bottom to calculate your order price.
3. Fill in your paper’s academic level, deadline and the required number of pages from the drop-down menus.
4. Click “FINAL STEP” to enter your registration details and get an account with us for record keeping and then, click on “PROCEED TO CHECKOUT” at the bottom of the page.
5. From there, the payment sections will show, follow the guided payment process and your order will be available for our writing team to work on it.
Why Hire Safehomework.com writers to do your paper?