Talking Data: Going customer-centric with Amazon architect Adrian De Luca

The vision at Amazon is to ‘be the Earth’s most customer-centric business’. It’s a big aspiration, but not impossible, says Adrian De Luca – Head of Solution Architecture for Partners & Ecosystems in Asia–Pacific at Amazon Web Services.

Speaking at Talking Data on Thursday evening, part of Melbourne Business School’s Centre for Business Analytics event series, De Luca discussed what makes the customer-centric strategy at Amazon a global winner – especially now as Amazon prepares to redirect Australian customers to buy from a local site rather than its UK and US sites, after 1 July.

“Being customer obsessed is different to being customer focused or customer orientated,” says De Luca. “At Amazon, it’s understanding that difference and how it makes sure we deliver exceptional customer service in every market.”

Back in 1994, Amazon was founded on a pioneering technology that could innovate, disrupt and fundamentally change the world as we know it, states De Luca. Underlining this was the use of four simple, but powerful aspects aptly named Mechanisms, Architecture, Culture and Organisation that the company continues to employ today.

“Simply put, Mechanisms deals with encoded behaviours that facilitate innovative thinking. Architecture is about the technology structure supporting growth and change, such as how Amazon Web Services came to be.

“Culture is customer obsession. And Organisation runs on our axiom that it’s better to create small, empowered groups, who own things end-to-end, than large teams where there are too many decision makers,” says De Luca.

How a company becomes and stays customer-centric, even amidst global disruption to its business, evoked positive feedback from attendees. Many asked De Luca about building a company up from its vision and culture points, which De Luca answered with examples of how Amazon incorporated each aspect into each facet of its business.

“Be prepared to be misunderstood for long periods of time,” says De Luca. “The key to business is to almost fail. If you don’t embrace this, then you will never be successful.”

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