Assignment: Extensive Technology Platform
Consider the now‐historic rise of companies such as Amazon.com, Google, and Zappos. Amazon.com began as an online bookseller and rapidly outpaced traditional brick‐and‐mortar businesses like Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Waterstones. Management at the traditional companies responded by having their IS support personnel build Web sites to compete. But upstart Amazon.com moved ahead, keeping its leadership position on the Web by lever- aging its business model into other marketplaces, such as music, electronics, health and beauty products, lawn and garden products, auctions, tools and hardware, and more. It cleared the profitability hurdle by achieving a good mix of IS and business basics: capitalizing on operational efficiencies derived from inventory software and smarter storage, cost cutting, and effectively partnering with such companies as Toys “R” Us Inc. and Target Corporation.2 More recently, Amazon.com changed the basis of competition in another market, but this time it was the Web ser- vices business. Amazon.com Web services offers clients the extensive technology platform used for Amazon.com but in an on‐demand fashion for developing and running the client’s own applications. Shoe retailer Zappos.com challenged Amazon’s business model, in part by coupling a social business strategy with exemplary service and sales. It was so successful that Amazon.com bought Zappos.
Likewise, Google built a business that is revolutionizing the way information is found. Google began in 1999 as a basic search company but its managers quickly learned that its unique business model could be leveraged for future success in seemingly unrelated areas. The company changed the way people think about Web content by making it available in a searchable format with an incredibly fast response time and in a host of languages. Further, Google’s keyword‐targeted advertising program revolutionized the way companies advertise. Then Google expanded, offering a suite of Web‐based applications, such as calendaring, office tools, e‐mail, collaboration, shopping, and maps and then enhanced the applications further by combining them with social tools to increase collaboration. Google Drive is one of the most popular file‐sharing tools and Gmail one of the most popular email apps. In 2015, Google’s mission was to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It is offering its customers very inexpensive fiber connections. In so doing, Google further expanded into infrastructure and on‐demand services.3
These and other online businesses are able to succeed where traditional companies have not, in part because their management understood the power of information, IS, and the Web. These exemplary online businesses aren’t suc- ceeding because their managers could build Web pages or assemble an IS network. Rather, the executives in these new businesses understand the fundamentals of managing and using information and can marry that knowledge with a sound, unique business vision to dominate their intended market spaces.
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