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Fighting the Fear

Tips to Compete with Amazon’s Accelerated Disruption


This will be my fourth Insight Tuesday about Amazon in the last three years. Why? Almost everywhere I turn, people are talking about Amazon and its effect on companies and entire industries. Most are fearful that their company and industry will be disrupted too.


The conversation accelerated last summer with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods.  Just two weeks ago, the buzz started about the new Amazon Go store. Simply wave the app over the turnstile, continue shopping and walk out.  Shelf sensors, cameras and technology do the rest, and shoppers get a digital receipt as they leave. That’s the classic Amazon formula: use technology and data to scale a business while bringing total ease and convenience to consumers.


Which industries has Amazon caused disruption in so far? First, every retailer is doing all it can to avoid becoming an ill-fated brick and mortar retailer. Meanwhile, in the auto industry, Amazon’s aggressive pursuit to create driver-less cars has already created disruption. Banking is on notice as well. Amazon’s ability to buy a bank charter and use its data prowess to create new levels of efficiency and value has bankers everywhere wary – especially in the payments sector, where companies like Zelle are taking a sizable piece of every payment transaction.


Even retail pharmacy and pharmacy benefits management companies are on Amazon’s path to disruption.  And now, the healthcare industry is officially on notice too.  Last week, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan announced a partnership to create a new healthcare company which will be free from profit-making incentives.  Scary, right?


Look at it this way. Don’t worry about Amazon.  Amazon is just an example, the best example, of a company embracing innovation and disruption.  Now, disruption is accelerating because of the maturation of internet-based technologies, big data and the integration of machines and sensors through IOT.  Here’s how not to fear Amazon or disruption in general.


  1. Get Smart – Every leader in every organization needs to smarten up.  Innovation is accelerating.  If you want your organization to survive and thrive, put your best and brightest on key initiatives to ensure your business focus. Be obsessed with meeting the evolving needs and expectations of your customers. Choose the general course and invest the necessary time and resources. Lighten up your craft by unburdening it of any legacy processes or products that are not creating value.  That way you can reduce unproductive overhead to invest in the future.


  1. Keep it Simple – Focus first on your primary mission and customer base. Choose your territory and role.  Pick your niches and your target customer segments.  Then, find out how to simplify their lives, choices and interactions with your business. Finally, engineer your employees, process and technology to make the customer experience as simple and easy as it can be.


  1. Embrace a New Speed of Change – Change can be painful for most people.  But embracing change with confidence and speed is necessary for every employee if the organization is to succeed.  Create a growth mindset for everyone.   Cut out old processes and habits that reduce productivity.


None of us like to think about the consequences of failing to embrace disruption: loss of market share, declining margins, loss of relevance, stagnation, and demise. But we do like to think of personal growth, teamwork and succeeding together. That’s how Amazon’s people think. So to beat Amazon in your marketplace, be like Amazon. Embrace disruption and the power of change. Set your organization up to succeed in big ways by focusing on what you know about your industry and all the possibilities to improve customer experiences.

Marketing Agency Blog Post Author of Fighting the Fear

February 13, 2018
Written by Tom Sullivan

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