How Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft Innovate

How The Tech Titans Plan To Stay On Top Forever

“ When a person takes out a mortgage or a car loan, there’s a repayment date. But that’s only because people have finite careers and lifespans, so there’s an “end date” where all debts have to be repaid.

Countries (and to some extent companies) are different. They have indefinite lives. So they can remain indebted indefinitely, even with rising debt” — Said Morgan Housel in his very thoughtful blog post Titled ‘Who Pays for This?’ (link at the bottom of this post)
He concludes his post saying:
“But if we’re lucky — that’s the right word — the panic-induced innovation that comes from Covid-19 will spark enough eventual prosperity to let us maintain or grow out of this debt, like we have before.”

This book encourages Companies (big/small) to spend more time ‘Inventing’ rather than ‘Executing’ just like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft.

My Notes:
There are two types of work: Idea Work and Execution Work. I liked this new perspective of looking at the work each of us do!

During the Industrial Economy, somebody would come up with an idea, setup a factory and then it would be all about execution. “Let’s build widgets!” The owner of the factory said and the entire factory would build widgets!

During the Knowledge Economy, a select group would come up with Ideas (Visionary CEO!) and still a majority of the folks would be doing the Execution Work.

Now, in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the execution work will be done by the machines, giving us humans time to do more creative work. More invention rather than incremental improvements!

Amazon — Always Invent. Have a Day 1 Mindset. Automate any part of the job or all parts of your job that are repeatable and move on to do the inventing parts.

Facebook — Give Feedback. Constant feedback. Surround yourself with people who disagree with your world views

Don’t stigmatize copying! Facebook copied Snapchat’s stories to the T and managed to stem (atleast temporarily) the loss of its users engagement on their platform.

In both Amazon’s and Facebook’s cases AI and Data are central pieces. Amazon has over 25 years of users buying pattern data and can predict with a high precision on what the user is likely to buy next. This has helped Amazon free their employees from doing demand forecasting, price negotiation with vendors for goods that need to be at their Fulfillment Center(FCs)

Likewise Facebook has a the biggest data on human behavior and can predict with high precision on what its users need or are going to do next!

Apple, Google and Amazon own platforms. Facebook has to build apps that run on Apple’s (AppStore) and Googles (Play Store). This means Facebook is almost at the mercy of the rules of the owners of the platform. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus means that should AR or VR takes off, they get to have their own platform, one which they could set their rules.
Own the distribution channels! Amazon purchased Whole Foods, to own distribution channels. Apple owns their own distribution channel courtesy the iOS and AppStore.

Google — Culture of Collaboration

How Google Reinvented itself over and over again

Google started as a website (Search) but then Microsoft cut its distribution by removing it as the default search engine on Internet Explorer. Google developed Chrome. Then with more and more people using mobiles, they got Android. Now with voice being used more frequently, Google is reinventing Search in a voice assistant. With each reinvention Google builds elements of its existing product suite into a new offering, requiring intense collaboration. The Google Assistant for instance, places Google Search, Maps, News, Photos, Android, YouTube and more into one cohesive product and to build these products Google needs to be able to work seamlessly across groups. And its collaboration tools (Hangout, Drive, Google Office) enable this.

Amazon’s 6-Page Memos are the channel for ideas to reach Bezos. Facebooks feedback culture allows ideas to bubble up to Zuckerberg. Googles Collaborative tools helps ideas move across the organization and allows collaboration, while Pichai largely stays out of the way.

A good book reminding us on the massive opportunity for companies to leverage AI and other technologies like Cloud Computing, Collaboration tools to accelerate their Digital Transformation initiatives.


Collaborative Fund


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I love the profession of Product Management that helps me build meaningful relationships with teams and customers. I just can’t get enough of reading!