Innovate or Incinerate

If someone had told me about 10 years ago when I graduated from my engineering course that I would never have to pick up my phone and talk to another person at the other end of a line to order food, I would have laughed. If someone had told me 5 years ago, that I could order clothes that I like through some web portal where I would have a Try as you Buy option, I would have laughed. If someone had told me 2 years ago, that cargo ships across the world can be controlled from a Star Trek like command and control center from any remote corner of the world, I would have guffawed.

While most of the changes that an end-user experiences are often at the front-end of this product or service, what remains largely invisible is the complete overhauling of a decades-old paradigm that is predicted to completely change the way we live. Amazon, the retail behemoth is most often associated with an online portal from where you can buy everything from diapers to a pair of Madagascar hissing cockroaches (not a joke!), is at the forefront of this paradigm shift. Step by step, they are innovating, replacing and optimising every major business function associated with the world of Supply Chain Management.

They have an army of 45,000 robots (Kiva robots) that have maximised the space efficiency of their warehouses many times over. They have patents which can predict shopping habits of customers, they have an on-demand video service (Amazon prime video) to compete with the likes of Netflix and IOT devices fused with an AI platform to help you in your day to day chores (Alexa, Echo family of products). They have started experimenting with drone deliveries in the UK and are working on their own driverless car platform to automate inbound and outbound transportation functions. Amazon has designed all this with one single objective in mind; to keep the customer engaged in the Amazon retail eco-system as much as possible. Their recent acquisition of Whole Foods adds a whole new dimension of capabilities for Amazon to transition from the online to the offline world of retail and overhaul that eco-system too.

This cyborg-esque fusion of online and offline worlds is an inevitable result of the boom in technology in the past few years. Many traditional job functions are likely to be made obsolete. But this also opens the doors to a whole new portfolio of jobs in the future. The only thing one can do is prepare for it well in advance and spot the next big opportunity. The pace at which Amazon is trying to change the status-quo holds an interesting future for the backbone of business and promises to change the face of the retail industry in the days to come.  Innovate or Incinerate, that is the name of the game!

About the Author

Venkateshwaran Subramanian (GMBA’ 14) began his career at Infosys as a Quality Assurance engineer. After his MBA, he joined the MiDCOM group in Dubai where he currently heads the Product Management division of FERO mobiles, an up and coming mobile phone brand in the MEA region.

Venky, as he is known by friends, is a technology enthusiast and speaker. He loves cooking, travelling, and blogging. His hair started greying at the age of 25 and he dyes his hair out of fear of being shouted at by his mother back in India. He and his wife both enjoy baking, blogging, singing, and making YouTube videos. He believes in letting his inner child dictate the way he lives and calls it the most fulfilling way to live life.

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