Company NewsJune 4, 2018

3DEXPERIENCE FORUM Keynote: Q&A with John Rossman, Former Amazon Executive and Digital Disruption Expert

We’re honored to welcome John Rossman as the keynote speaker at the…
Avatar Suzanne Moran

We’re honored to welcome John Rossman as the keynote speaker at the upcoming 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM North America in Boston later this month. We had the opportunity to catch up with Rossman in advance of his June 20 presentation to get a preview of the themes that will be discussed.

Rossman is most known for launching and scaling the Amazon Marketplace business which now accounts for more than 50% of all Amazon units sold and shipped. He also served as Director of Enterprise Services at Amazon, where he managed worldwide services to enterprise clients such as, Toys R Us, Sears, Marks and Spencer, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Since leaving Amazon he has advised clients across most industry verticals on digital strategy, operations and culture. Rossman is the author of “The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company,” and,  “The Amazon Way on IoT: 10 Principles For Every Leader from the World’s Leading Internet of Things Strategies”

John, you were the leader behind Amazon’s Marketplace.  What lessons from the Marketplace experience could you share with companies who may be launching a similar business stream?

John Rossman

JR – To some degree, these lessons led to two books, so there are a lot of them.  Maybe one of them that’s been on my mind is tied to Amazon Leadership #2 – Take Ownership.  Part of “acting like an owner” is never sacrificing long term enterprise value or brand value for short term results.  We walked away from some really important deals early on when we needed them because we thought it might compromise customer trust and our brand proposition.  Walking away from business is never a great day or my recommendation – unless you’ve tried all other approaches of shaping the business into something that does not compromise enterprise value or brand value.  But too many companies are solely focused on financial results and simple results, and not considering the enterprise value and brand risk that can come from poorly shaped deals.

You’ve written about the ways that Amazon seeds disruption and implemented IoT. What are the biggest takeaways or business strategies that people should learn from Amazon’s approach?

JR – Be relentless.  Be a problem solver.  Get to “root cause” and don’t treat just the symptoms.  After you really understand the problem and its root cause, then approach solutions leveraging technology like IoT.  If you skip over the hard work of “innovating solving a problem”, you’re just putting lipstick on the pig.

You’ve stated that at the center of successful disruption invariably lies great customer experience. Where do companies falter when attempting to deliver experiences to their customers?

JR – Let me count the ways!  First, they don’t truly build customer empathy and understanding.  Second, they don’t test, measure and adjust enough, and they are too eager to “scale up” versus incubation where you can test/measure/adjust.  Third, they get impatient.

What can companies learn from Amazon in the digitalization of their businesses?

JR – Read The Amazon Way books!  Depends on so many factors, but maybe the universal one is that “digitalization” is about creating change.  Creating change in business and in ecosystems takes leadership.  Company leaders have to truly be champions, in every sense of the word, to make this happen.  If company leadership (board, CEO, CXO) are nominally committed, the risk of failure goes up exponentially.

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