I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years? ' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that second question is actually the more important of the two - because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time...." Jeff Bezos, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Amazon.com
Some keen insights from Jeff Bezos around the constant around e-commerce; actually applicable to all commerce. In this post by Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital, there are quotes from Jeff Bezos who goes on to describe three constants or what's not going to change in the next 10 years.
(1) We know that customers want low prices
(2) They want fast delivery
(3) They want vast selection
Sounds over-simplified, right? But, it is profound in its simplicity and high degree of empathy for the customer. Looking at the Amazon press releases and third party writings about their new features and products, I can almost correlate everything to the above three constants.
- Deals - Low Prices - Constant 1
- Drones, Home Services - Fast delivery and Consumption - Constant 2
- Music, Doubling of Amazon.ca - Increased selection - Constant 3
Inspired by Jeff's insights, I looked towards the current disruptions underway in the data storage industry where I spent some of my formative years. I realized that there are constants that will be true in the next 10 years. Indeed, they have been true for the previous ten years. Ironically, it is these constants that will drive change. Upstarts will disrupt incumbents by solving for one or more of these constants better.
In data storage, the constants are:
(1) Customers want flexible storage implementations.
(2) Customers want cheaper storage implementations.
(3) Customers want scalable storage implementations.
(4) Customers want available storage implementations.
Data Storage Constant 1 - Flexible - Customers want flexible storage implementations.
Also frequently termed business agility, users always wants to know if they can build apps faster, respond to un-anticipated web scale traffic surges, provision storage fast enough to support changing business needs in lines of business and so on. This constant is reflected in the rapid rise of the cloud computing (for storage in this case) model over the past few years, The pay-as-you-go and scale-on-demand elements of the cloud model is a disruption along the vector of flexibility. The financials of the cloud computing bellwether Amazon Web Services and the growth of Amazon S3 speak for themselves.
Data Storage Constant 2 - Cheaper - Customers want cheaper storage implementations.
Storage cost reduction technologies has been a critical driver in the creation of new business models such as photo sharing apps, enterprise file serving and in fostering customer-friendly price wars in the cloud storage industry. Looking ahead, the volume, variety, growth rate of data will demand continued innovation for cost-effective storage implementations. Companies that respond in this vector will prosper - whether it is by reducing
- management costs
- purchase price
- deployment costs such as reducing data center footprint
- integration costs through emerging hyper-converged solutions etc.
In storage, "Do More with Less" is always a popular message that resonates with customers.
Data Storage Constant 3 - Scalable - Customers want scalable storage implementations.
The amount of data and the sources of data (machine logs, sensors, click streams etc.) are growing exponentially. Data stores must grow without service disruptions. Any growth related restrictions such as larger scale-up machines that hit limits or systems that require service interruptions will not meet this critical need. In response to this need, witness the rapid rise of distributed systems built on top of clusters of commodity servers and disk drives such as Hadoop and NoSQL databases.
Data Storage Constant 4 - Available - Customers want available storage implementations.
Users expect data to be available anywhere, anytime, any device. Cloud Storage provides that availability and access. In the distributed systems described above, data protection is implemented across multiple nodes thus preparing for the loss of a single disk or even an entire node. Current disruptions around cloud storage, distributed computing incorporate this storage constant.
So, what does this all mean? For marketing professionals, resist the urge for new and complex terminology. Instead, incorporate these constants in your messaging. This is the language of the customer. These constants will stand the test of time. For product strategy professionals? Jeff Bezos said it best " you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time ".