Amazon: From Book Seller to Service Provider
Amazon’s strategy is to maintain its role as an online retailer while diversifying its product and service line. While many people still see Amazon only as an online book retailer, this is no longer true. Amazon is now best described as a technology retailer. Capitalizing on its large and reliable Internet infrastructure, Amazon Web Services now include the following: Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), SimpleDB, CloudFront, SQS, Flexible Payment Service and Mechanical Turk. These services are aimed at helping other companies to succeed. Amazon has moved away from its original core competency as an online book seller and has become a technology firm. Further evidence of this is found in Amazon’s launch of the Amazon Kindle, an electronic reader developed by the Amazon.com subsidiary Lab126. This places Amazon squarely in the hardware and software development business, a further diversification of its interests.
Amazon is competing with Google and Microsoft because Google and Microsoft offer their customers rival computing solutions, including database management, storage, and running programs on remote servers. In short, Amazon, Google and Microsoft are all offering business solutions to companies. These solutions include Software as a Service (SaaS) and Hardware as a Service (HaaS). It is only a wise strategy for Amazon to compete with Google and Microsoft if Amazon can maintain a competitive edge as a technology firm. As an online retailer, Amazon is doing well and has recently posted strong earnings, but this is largely because of book store bankruptcies and problems at e-Bay. Amazon may be doing well in the retail market but it will have to remain innovative if it wants to stay competitive in the area of SaaS and HaaS business solutions, and to stay ahead of Google’s and Microsoft’s development of new platforms. The strategies of Google, Microsoft and Amazon are very similar: they are offering medium-to-large companies the means (such as cloud services) to store data on and undertake processing through the Internet, and at a competitive price.
Amazon’s services, especially its S3 services, can help companies significantly reduce storage costs as they use Amazon’s own storage capacity. For example, by using Amazon’s S3, companies do not need to purchase IDE disks, RAID controllers and single CPU servers. One company recently reported a $500,000 annual saving using Amazon S3. Similarly, Amazon’s EC2 can reduce business overhead as companies can host software directly on Amazon servers. Todd Pacific Shipyards Makes Effective Use of Information Systems
The Time Tracking application is already linked to project management, payroll, accounts payable and employees’ time and work assignments. If I were the CIO at Todd Pacific (and only thought about the bottom line), I might also link the Time Tracking application (which is a wireless application) to: • customer billing
• inventory management, particularly for just-in-time manufacturing • employee performance reviews
• capturing personnel data in order to match employees to assignments or to re-assign employees to different tasks • contract management with unions
• employee e-mail, so that information could be sent quickly and efficiently to employees, particularly when a dangerous situation arises • workplace accident reporting.
If I were a worker at Todd Pacific, I would have serious concerns about the Time Tracking application and its impact on my privacy. I would be concerned about the security of my personal data, especially my payroll data as it includes my personal banking information. As Time Tracking uses wireless transmission of data, this means the data is vulnerable to hackers and could be intercepted. I would also be concerned that the Time Tracking application would be unfairly linked to my performance review. I might...
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