Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), took the stage on Tuesday morning to launch day two of AWS re:Invent 2020, where he addressed the industry’s latest trends and challenges, emphasized the importance of speed and reinvention, and announced several new AWS services and solutions aimed at helping customers transform their business.
Since AWS re:Invent is completely virtual this year, more cloud enthusiasts than ever before have access to the latest AWS announcements, resources, and content. Jassy mentioned during his keynote that there were more than 500,000 registrants this year!
In a separate article, we covered the main announcements and product updates from week one of re:Invent. In this article, we’ll focus on Jassy’s eight keys to create a culture of reinvention.
Jassy pointed out that only a small percentage of Fortune 500 companies in the past still remain on that list today. In fact, only 10.4% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 have remained on the list through 20191. What’s different about the companies that stay on top?
It's often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. For businesses to survive (and thrive), they need to continuously reinvent themselves—adapting to market disruption, customer demands, and competition.
What does it take to reinvent?
Eight keys to create a culture of reinvention
1. Leadership’s will to invent and reinvent
Organizations like Netflix, AirBnB, and Peloton pave the way for innovation. Each of these organizations have leadership that’s willing and determined to do something new. Jassy emphasized the importance of data and digging into hard truths about your business performance to determine the direction you should go next, and then having the courage to take the next steps.
2. Acknowledgement that you can’t fight gravity
Jassy said that’s "It's better to cannibalize yourself than having someone else do it to you.” Leaders need to be able to take an objective view of the market, competitors, and their own products/services in order to make decisions about changes that need to be made.
These decisions are often difficult, but may be necessary to have an impact on your business model. Jassy referenced Amazon as a specific example—he said that it was a difficult decision to include third-party sellers on Amazon.com, but it paid off in the long run. Now, third-party sellers contribute to more than half of Amazon’s retail sales.
3. Talent that’s hungry to invent
Not only do you need leadership that’s willing to reinvent, but you also need to hire new talent to build a strong team and culture of reinvention. And once you’ve hired innovators to your team, make sure you listen to them! Newcomers can provide a fresh perspective that long-time employees often can’t.
4. Solve real customer problems
Jassy emphasized that listening and acting on customer feedback is one of the biggest contributors to Amazon’s success. Don’t just reinvent for the sake of reinvention—listen to your customers’ needs and let that be your compass.
If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t wait to reinvent. If you wait too long to take the next step, another business will take your place. Don’t be afraid to fail, and if you do, fail fast, learn from your mistakes, and keep going.
6. Don’t “complexify”
Business transformation is complex enough as it is, so when you’re choosing who to work with and what technology to use, Jassy recommends you start by keeping it simple—choose a primary partner, gain momentum, see results, and go from there.
7. Use the platform with the broadest and deepest set of tools
As a follow up to point number six, Jassy says that businesses looking to create a culture of reinvention should use a platform with the broadest and deepest set of tools. As a clear plug for AWS, he shared the company’s consistent position of leadership in the market, citing industry analysts and sharing the broad range of AWS services and solutions to meet customer needs.
Does this mean AWS is ignoring the inevitability of multicloud? We don’t think so. As mentioned earlier, AWS is willing to reinvent itself to better serve their customers, which often means opening up their offerings to include third-party organizations.
Two key announcements from Jassy’s keynote included ECS Anywhere and EKS Anywhere, which now support customer workloads running on private data centers, as well as Azure and Google Cloud Platform2. We’ll see how these services play out more next year, since they won’t be generally available until 2021. However, we see this as a step in the multicloud direction for AWS.
8. Pull everything together with aggressive top-down goals
To conclude, Jassy said that you should propel action and speed with aggressive top-down goals. He mentioned General Electric as an example—by setting aggressive targets from the beginning, General Electric successfully migrated thousands of workloads to AWS in just a couple of years.
If you’re not sure what goals you should be setting, see our article: Cloud KPIs You Need to Measure Success
AWS re:Invent 2020 is far from over. We’ll be keeping our eye on the keynotes, product announcements, and leadership sessions for more insights into everything AWS has to offer.
For a recap of week one, see our article here, and stay tuned to the blog, where we’ll be providing recaps at the end of each week.
1. "Only 52 US companies have been on the Fortune 500 since 1955," American Enterprise Institute, May 22, 2019, https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/only-52-us-companies-have-been-on-the-fortune-500-since-1955-thanks-to-the-creative-destruction-that-fuels-economic-prosperity/
2. "AWS quietly enters the multicloud era," Protocol, December 2, 2020, https://www.protocol.com/manuals/new-enterprise/aws-multicloud-era