so said Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor in one of his talks at his company event last week. Darn, I should have had the quote in my new book. I describe the trend as “the enterprising of consumer tech”.
The book describes the amazing efficiency of Apple’s retail operations and its business model innovations , Google’s cleantech investments, Apple and Google’s huge ecosystems, Facebook’s hyperefficient data center, Amazon’s logistics, PayPal’s financial engine, Zynga’s blend of public and private clouds, HP’s global supply chain, Lexmark’s social savvy, Dell’s packaging innovations and and…
Three things that stood out in my research
a) How little even business pubs write about these operational details. The Swishers and the Mossbergs and the Pogues write plenty about new iPad features and gossip about their executives, but given the likely interest of their executive readerships, surprisingly little about the sausage factories. I was pleased to see Adam Lashinsky of Fortune touch on at least some operational detail in his book Inside Apple.
b) Lots of enterprise vendors whisper about what they are doing with Apple or Amazon, but then clamp up citing non-disclosures. Truth is often they are doing surprisingly trivial stuff in consumer tech companies.
c) Few enterprises are acknowledging consumer tech provides the new benchmarks for their industries. Amazon and Google data centers are more best practice than those of IBM and Accenture. Foxconn’s contract manufacturing of many consumer products is redefining economics, quality and time to market expectations for outsourcing. PayPal’s micro-payment capabilities are better than those of much larger banks. It takes a brave board like J.C, Penney’s to hire as its CEO the head of Apple Retail.
In a joke, when asked what he had learned at Oracle, Phillips joked “not to announce a product (Fusion) seven years before it was ready”. Last week in a call with SAP I told them that years after talking about HANA I would have expected it to have atleast 20,000 customers with some level of adoption.
That’s another lesson from consumer tech. Have your channel, your ecosystem ready to roll it out months before a formal product announcement.
Marc Benioff of salesforce.com is one of the few enterprise executives who has long admired consumer tech. In my 2010 book, I quoted him
“ We stand on the shoulders of giants like JerryYang [founder of Yahoo!], Pierre Omidyar [of eBay], Jeff Bezos [of Amazon],
and Biz Stone [of Twitter]. ”
Marc is so right - it behooves us all as writers, and enterprise vendors and IT to learn more about what makes consumer tech go. This is the new industrial grade.