Amazon Web Services (AWS) marketing and programs are generally technically oriented – about products, services and features. But as the company evolves, so does its relationship with customers as it becomes a more strategic supplier. Recently there has been a movement to provide more guidance about processes, people and culture. Enterprises are fascinated by Amazon’s culture and ability to succeed in so many fields with velocity, which has opened new opportunities for the firm.
At re:Invent 2017 earlier this week I attended a session called Using Amazon as inspiration for innovation. It was interesting to see how AWS is now productising it’s own approaches to innovation. While in the tech world the phrase “two pizza” teams is pretty well known, for enterprises the idea that small interdisciplinary teams can get more done goes against the grain somewhat. AWS has developed a program for all global accounts. called the “Working Backwards Workshops”. The idea is to bring executive leads, and customer experts and AWS facilitates the workshop using it’s own approaches. One core idea is to foster an environment where a wider range of voices contribute to decision making about how to proceed.
Amazon has a unique approach to product development. The team tasked with building the product first writes the “press release” about the product and it’s benefits before they do anything else. The idea is that if the press releases is clear then anyone will understand the value of the product. The what and why is a press release. Meanwhile the “how”, is a FAQ about implementation choices. The workshops are structured around creating a design challenge. then an empathy map, with a customer journey. and framing the problem.
To be honest as an analyst I would normally choose the technical track, but one reason I was keen to join the innovation session was the chance to see Sandy Carter, who used to work at IBM, but is now working at AWS as an Enterprise Innovation lead. Sandy is a super hard working executive who should fit in nicely in Amazon’s hard-driven culture. She is definitely someone that raises the bar from an execution perspective. A program like this is perfect for her. She is also about programs, repeatability and results.
I think Amazon’s customers will potentially get a lot out of the program. It’s a different way of thinking about product delivery, and AWS is obviously very good at getting things done.
AWS is a client. paid T&E to re:Invent