Insights | 2.2.21

Innovators That I Admire – Creating the Next Generation By Rob Baum, CEO of TechFlow

Jeff Bezo’s success at building Amazon into the agile and powerful competitor it is today is truly unique. I think everyone alive knows the story of his start – selling books on the internet.  But in my opinion, what is so unique about Jeff is his relentless drive towards customer satisfaction and his intuitive focus on technology for the future to accelerate unprecedented growth.

With COVID-19, face masks and social distancing, Amazon has grown even more dominant. I myself order items on-line and skip going to the store more often than not. Amazon provides so many convenient features, an unlimited inventory, and delivery in some instances that occurs the same day – it is truly hard to beat! Jeff made Amazon’s mission focused on serving and responding to my every need as a customer. Whether it is the honest product reviews, free delivery, great inventory, superior search, or fantastic prices, Jeff’s focus on the customer makes Amazon an unquestionable market leader and an extremely tough competitor.

I admire his drive to deliver fantastic customer service – that alone is exceptional, but Jeff’s vision of technology in the future adds a whole new layer. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Kindle for reading books, Alexa as a natural language processor, and Blue Origin as a human spaceflight company, just to name a few, demonstrate Jeff’s ability to find a need before anyone else sees it.

AWS by itself has created the environment that supports the huge and ever on-going migration to cloud computing. AWS is a clear leader in this space previously dominated by companies that have been writing software since the first computers: IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and many more.  So how did an internet book-selling company create architecture that drives modern cloud deployments? Vision: a relentless drive to provide customer value and sees opportunities to deliver that value before they exist.

Kindle readers have a following like Tesla people, or Apple customers for their products. Jeff digitized the world’s library of books so a person can carry hundreds of them on one small device that feels like a book, but he didn’t stop there. When you’re reading a Kindle book, you can look up words, find references, and do 100 other useful things.  Kindles created a market for digital book readers that we didn’t realize would be so cool.

Alexa was driven by Jeff’s desire to recreate the USS Enterprise computer from Star Trek.  Once AWS was built and provided access to unlimited data and affordable processing power, pushing forward with a natural language processing engine like the computer on Star Trek became a reality.  It took investment, conviction, and vision to make it happen. Tying it to your home and extending it over 100s of different valuable uses is just another example of vision greatness.

Jeff’s determination and conviction to push the boundaries on technology to deliver useful innovation for the future leaves me awestruck. Working on technology-driven solutions myself, I understand that delivering these often takes time and persistence. Amazon grew quickly – but not overnight. It was a steadfast growth focused on their core and expanded gradually through entrepreneurial opportunities. Some failed. Some failed, and then succeeded. Some were immediately successful. Some took years to get started and get right. Some were developed agilely and iteratively improved focused on customer value. I admire that persistence and conviction to try new all along the path of creating something of value for the consumer – your customer.

To create the next generation of solutions, you need to lead with a vision. At TechFlow, we use the tagline “Always Ahead” to describe how we endeavor to lead our customers not to where they are today, but where they need to be in the future. Jeff’s primary focus on the customer and enabling technology to improve the customer experience has translated into his incredible success at Amazon and helps to validate what we are trying to accomplish with TechFlow’s vision. He has inspired us to keep dreaming! Having a succinct vision that is broad enough to provide many opportunities but specific enough to drive direction is something I aspire to with TechFlow’s vision of the world. Provide a vision that creates guard rails but allows people to be entrepreneurial.

Look at where that entrepreneurial spirit can lead! Amazon has had an immeasurable impact on the world.  Jeff’s drive to constantly drive and push Amazon towards serving the customer has forever changed how a company views its market and its competitors. He’s proven that if you provide awesome service to the customer, the competition will have trouble keeping up. One key takeaway – keep your focus on the customer, not on the competitors.

If I could sit down and have coffee with Jeff, I would ask him what’s next. How does he envision his customers’ needs will evolve and how will he use the power of his platform (Amazon) to flush out the technology to deliver a solution? What does the future look like in Jeff Bezos’ mind? As the CEO of a company on a mission to be “Always Ahead”, I would love to tap into the inner thoughts and imagination of someone who has managed to do just that – better than anyone else.