This is simply magical – Amazon now employs 1.1 million around the world. In the United States, it comes behind Walmart as the private sector largest employer of labour. Today, Amazon is a digital conglomerate with tentacles in ecommerce, web cloud services, robotics, logistics and voice recognition. And in these domains, it is one of the top three, if not the category-king.
Amazon will add 3,000 more employees to its books — this time in Boston. The online giant is expanding the technology and software development teams that work on Alexa, Amazon Web Services, Amazon Robotics and Amazon Pharmacy. After Walmart, Amazon is the country’s largest employer, employing more than 800,000 people just in the U.S. The company has experienced “unparalleled growth” in the last 12 months, says The Wall Street Journal, hiring over 400,000 employees in 2020. Its global workforce totals more than 1.1 million.
What is happening here is typical: the most important element in modern companies is building the fundamental stack. Yes, spend the fixed cost, and once that is done, other things can be added on top. It takes out the old construct of core competency, since adding new services today does not require extremely new capabilities, once the fundamental stack is there.
Yes, if you have a cloud infrastructure, you can add music services, voice recognition technology, web metric technologies, and more, largely because the core investment has been done and these ones are not evidently onerous. That is why Facebook can do many things today since the hard work has been done. Facebook Local, check. Facebook Portal, check. Facebook fintech, loading.
If Amazon has logistics infrastructure to move books and office supplies, why not add drugs by opening a pharmacy? If Amazon has a supermarket chain, why not offer pick-up? Amazon does some of these things already and they are connected under symphonic innovation.
Symphonic Innovation is innovation that is not domain-specific, but is anchored on a unified and harmonious approach in the deployment of technology components to accelerate productivity gains and cushion competitiveness. With Symphonic Innovation, you do not deploy and launch for one technology area like blockchain only to be tripped by AI or big data; you launch with a mindset that these technologies are like extended musical compositions which must be carefully organized to make the orchestra an unforgettable experience.
There is one core lesson for emerging regions like Africa: the vision can start as a digital business, but can quickly grow into the meatspace, providing huge societal benefits besides fixing market frictions, but also providing jobs to the citizens. Scale has value because, most times, only big companies tackle extremely challenging problems. Amazon is serving America, Nigeria needs its equivalent.
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