No, this has nothing to do with strange anthropological experiences it’s even more fascinating…
I watched a great video from iTunes U (my new favorite pastime) and it made two (of many) interesting points;
- Wal*Mart, which would be China’s 8th largest trading partner if it were a country and is the United State’s largest business, doesn’t make a single thing. Instead, their success is due to their logistical knowledge and expertise.
- UPS doesn’t just “deliver things” they’re also “in-sourced” to perform operations for companies, for example Toshiba. When you mail a laptop out for service, it gets picked up by UPS, taken to one of their facilities, repaired by UPS and mailed back to, all without ever touching Toshiba’s hands.
In that many ways the world wide economy is turning into a “knowledge based economy”where the ability to conceive of an idea dictates success, not specifically the ability to build or deploy that idea, those proficiencies can be contracted.
There is certainly value for operational excellence a la Wal*Mart, Starbucks, UPS and today I think we get to add one more to that list, Amazon.
They’ve announced a “Fulfillment Web service (FWS)” which allows you to leverage Amazon’s existing distribution network to store and ship your products.
In addition to offering warehousing and shipping, in true Amazon tradition, they’ve coupled this capability with a programmatic webservices interface. I think this may be a pretty key differentiator. It’s not that Wal*Mart doesn’t have a business to business (B2B) interface, but EDI can be complex and costly to implement.
Wal*Mart attempts to server “the common man” but it seems clear that Amazon’s focused on “the common business”.
One last question and thought; Why has this taken so long? We can be pedantic about definitions or dissect the statement that innovation can truly not exist without invention. Semantics aside, I believe Amazon’s practice and “inventions” in the webservices technologies has afforded them the “innovation” required to bridge this gap.
PS, if you have the opportunity check out iTunes U, specifically the presentations by Thomas L. Friedman at MIT; “The World is Flat” and “The World is Flat 3.0”.