Last week, Jeff Bezos was declared the richest man in the world by Bloomberg. His estimated net worth is $85 billion dollars and it is speculated he is on his way to becoming a trillionaire by the year 2042.
Let’s explore where he came from, how he fostered the use of technology to further Amazon’s growth and what you can take away from his strategy.
Who is Jeff Bezos?
Jeff Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. From a young age, he loved computers and studied computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton University. After graduation, he worked on Wall Street.
He opened Amazon.com, a virtual bookstore, in 1994 that went public in 1997. Bezos continued to diversify Amazon’s offerings with the sale of CDs and videos in 1998, and later clothes, electronics, toys and more through major retail partnerships. In 2006, Amazon.com launched its video on demand service. In 2007, the company released the Kindle, a handheld digital book reader that allowed users to buy, download, read and store their book selections.
Today, Amazon offers almost any product a standard retailer would have. They currently sell the Kindle Fire, digital assistants such as Alexa and Echo, Fire TV, provide original programming via the Amazon channel and offer cloud computing via Amazon Web Services. Just recently, they purchased Whole Food Markets as an attempt to enter the brick and mortar grocery store business.
Bezos has been CEO of the company since its beginning; owns 17% of Amazon and resides in Seattle, Washington with his wife and 4 children.
How Did Bezos Position Amazon for Growth?
Bezos original thought was he would only be the largest online book seller when he started his business in 1994. What he did not understand until he launched Amazon, was the public’s thirst for online shopping. He certainly knew he was onto something when Amazon rose to a $100 million company in three short years.
Since he was already a technologist, it was easy for him to understand and appreciate the importance of gathering the buying habits of his customers. Each product purchase suggests up to three additional purchases that relate to the product the customer just bought (big data), has a search bar to find out what they want and a way to ship the product to them when they want it. He uses technology to give his customers more choices; bringing offerings to the market quickly and less expensively than his competitors.
Bezos constantly asks his team and himself two questions:
- What is NOT going to change in the next 10 years? He builds his business strategy around these answers.
- Are we meeting core human needs in the most effective and efficient way possible given changes in technology and customer expectations?
He asks the questions, listens to the responses and develops the best solution to meet Amazon clients’ needs.
Lessons Learned from Amazon's CEO
In my opinion, here are the things that launched Bezos and his team to greatness:
- Bezos is a long-term CEO.
Bezos has been with Amazon from the beginning; for over 23 years. He has the history, passion and vision to make his company succeed. He learned from his successes and his failures.
Do you have long-term leadership in your business? If not, you may want to assess your hiring practices and cultural patterns within the company to cultivate long-term employees.
- Bezos has a vested interest in Amazon’s success.
As a significant shareholder, he knows every product launch can affect shareholder confidence in the company. This is different than a bonus at the end of the year because almost anyone can own shares of Amazon.
Are your leaders tied to company improvement measurements other than a yearly bonus? Eliminating this structure all together and tying their success to stock or other objective measurements might be the ticket to your long-term success.
- He adapted and used technology to bring up Amazon’s game.
Listening to his customers and using technology to implement change, Bezos provides a platform for users to find what they want at a price point that is valuable to them. He uses relatively new technology offerings including big data and AI to develop predictive buying patterns that bring the customer what they want, when they want it.
Are you using technology to become more efficient with your process and effective with your customers? Are you using big data and other technology advancements or are you waiting for something to happen?
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