Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Has Great Advice for Anyone Running a Business
What home technology pros can learn from a recent talk by one of the world foremost CEOs, Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
Recently, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos published a shareholder letter in which he attributed his business's success to its ability to remain a “Day 1” company — one still at the beginning of reaching its true potential.
The remainder of his letter went on to outline four ways that companies can fend off “Day 2,” which he describes as a state of “statis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death.”
Long heralded for its commitment to innovation, Amazon is clearly a manifestation of Bezos’ way of thinking. But what can we, in our corner of the technology world, take away from the advice of one of the world’s foremost CEO’s?
Dissecting the entirety of Bezos’ article is more than we need to tackle here (you can download it in its entirety here).
However, there were two principles he discussed that I found highly-relevant to home technology professionals today: true customer obsession and embracing external trends.
Are You Truly Obsessed with Your Customers?
The argument Bezos presents here is that there are many ways to focus your business. You can be product focused, technology focused, competitor focused and more. But, Bezos argues, being truly customer focused is the best way to fend off Day 2.
“...customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don't yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. “
Given the ever-deepening penetration of technology into the homes of everyday consumers, we take this advice about the merits of a customer-centric approach to heart.
The Internet-of-Things will become the Internet-of-Broken-Things. The connected home will become the frequently-disconnected-home. Consumers, who may not yet know it, will begin to recognize the real value of high-quality support and service, creating a burgeoning market for those of us in a position to provide it.
Embracing External Trends
Another of Bezos’ points that is highly-relevant to the CEDIA integrator is the idea of embracing external trends. He argues that although large trends can be easy to spot (they get a lot of attention in the press) they can be "strangely hard for large organizations to embrace."
He goes on to say:
“The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won't or can't embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you're probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.”
While Bezos specifically mentions large organizations in his argument, I believe firmly that these trends are difficult for established businesses of any size to act upon. This is not all bad, of course. In a small business especially, resources are too constrained to pursue every new market opportunity, making a strong case for remaining focused on your core business in the face of constantly evolving trends.
The growing importance of service-based pricing strategies in our channel is a perfect example. As the recently released CE Pro 100 report highlights, our industry is thriving. There is plenty of money to be made now and in the foreseeable future executing complex projects. This is, of course, great news all around.
But don’t allow yourself to become a Day 2 company by losing sight of inevitability. Project revenues are, of course, as critical to your business now as ever. However, the future of our industry belongs to those who also embrace service as a core part of their value proposition.
As the technology that drives the connected home continues to commoditize, those companies that stake their claim on expertise, guidance, and an exceptional client service experience will be best positioned to thrive in the years ahead.
The growing awareness happening in the smart home will drive significant changes in consumer perceptions. These consumers will increasingly gain access to all manner of new, inexpensive devices promising a delightful experience. Soon after, they will be disappointed to learn how often these devices require management, service, and support.
This will inevitably lead to an increased demand for 24/7 support, as well as an increase in the perceived value of home tech pros positioned to provide this valuable service. Those who aren’t positioned to meet this demand will soon find themselves far behind the curve, losing both new sales opportunities and longtime clients.
Jeff Bezos: "Always Day 1"
Bezos’ letter is a powerful read which perfectly highlights what home technology companies can do to ensure they always remain Day 1 companies.
By maintaining a sharp focus on the customer experience, we can stay in front of demand, shaping offerings before our clients even perceive a need for them. And by keeping our fingers on the pulse of new trends, we can ensure that we don’t allow comfort and complacency to keep us from capitalizing on market segments poised for substantial growth.
Joseph Kolchinsky is the founder of OneVision Resources and investor of companies in the personal and home technology industry. He is also a frequent speaker on the evolving nature of supporting the connected home and related IoT. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Joseph at [email protected]
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