Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been the market leader in Public Cloud for years, standing out with its technological advancements in services and automation. Among others, Garter has confirmed this in its Magic Quadrant which ranks AWS as the leader.
Not what I expected.
The start of July saw the AWS Transformation Day held in Munich, aimed mainly at decision-makers from companies across Germany. My expectations of the day were quite concrete—lots of marketing slides and introductions of new services in addition to the relentless public cloud preaching. The audience—hippie Amazonians (yes, that’s what Amazon’s employees call themselves), young IT admins, and IT decision-makers in grey suits.
What I experienced there was quite different and really special. The day focussed exclusively on the technical, organisational, and human transformation of enterprises. And I only saw two marketing slides. The attendees? A mix of many different companies and sectors with various interests. The huge space was completely full, every seat taken—a great event that really made the transformation tangible.
Cloud is the result of changing enterprises.
Right from the keynote, it was clear that the AWS Transformation Day covered more than just IT. It spanned how companies are changing, adapting their business to new opportunities, and aligning their corporate culture towards new types of employees.
AWS sees itself as an enabler for rethinking enterprises. Miriam McLemore demonstrated this impressively in the opening keynote. She is currently an AWS Enterprise Strategist, drawing on her experience as CIO of Coca Cola. The keynote addressed the complete transformation of the Coca Cola Company. The technical transformation from diverse on-premise data centres to a modern, secure, and scalable cloud infrastructure with AWS forms the backbone of Coca Cola’s business transformation. It’s impressive that a global IT organisation can be transformed by sustainable change management, to achieve the level of agility required despite dispersed teams and enormous complexity of the applications.
Corporate culture—Amazon as the role model of change.
Transformation means, above all, creating great solutions with the people you already have. The key to success is changing the culture within an enterprise. We saw concrete proof that AWS doesn’t just rely on theory here, as they showed us their own journey from a bookseller to the leading cloud provider. Amazon’s own culture is tangible through transparent communication of their Leadership principles but, above all, through their spirit and the behaviour of the Amazonians.
In a modern, dynamic, agile world, present and future behaviours need to be rethought, to analyse and adjust them where needed. A culture of making mistakes is a fundamental factor for Amazon’s success in innovating. Mistakes are seen as an important contribution to success if these can be learned from and used to improve processes, technologies, or the culture in the future.
The customer first. Then the product.
Why is Amazon successful? There’s no one answer to that. One success factor is certainly that all products are aimed at the customer. This was clear from the leadership principles alone: Customer Obsession is the guiding principle of every Amazonian.
Additionally, AWS has developed a concept or procedure model in which every process starts with the customer and maps everything out from there, working backwards. The fascinating thing is that a service or product can only be developed if there is at least one practical use case for at least one customer. When other customers and or use cases supervene, this process begins again from the beginning and any product adjustments made where possible.
From companies, for companies.
As well as the keynotes and talks at the AWS Transformation Day, it was interesting that at least every hour there was at least one success story presented by an AWS customer. The majority of AWS customers are German companies from a wide range of industries and of all shapes and sizes.
Me and my customers were able to take a lot away from these talks. Cloud has become more than just hype, really having arrived in German companies. The success stories provided inspiration on how to use the use cases presented in their own companies, the added value they would generate, and how Bechtle could help them.
Transformation. Now. But how?
The bottom line of the AWS Transformation Day is that transformation can only be successful if there is enough attention paid to management with a dedicated team with the sole task of shaping, accompanying, and realising the transformation.
In all of the success stories, the decisive factor was founding a company within the company. This new organisation makes it possible to completely restructure and continue optimising structures, processes, ways of thinking, and much more. The transformation is most at risk of getting forgotten in large, established companies among their daily business.