As usual, he covers a bunch of amazing statistics. Like AWS Cloud Computing is now a $20 Billion (with a “B”) business, and how 40,000 people (including 2 RunSignUp developers) attended their annual developer conference. Bob remembers going to the first one 6 years ago and forecasting they would be bigger than IBM and HP, and Amazon AWS certainly is today compared to those company’s hardware businesses. They certainly have given RunSignUp and our customers a wonderful platform that speeds our time to market and lowers our costs. Other interesting stats include over 100 Million Prime members, over 5 Billion shipped items, Alexa has over 30,000 skills from outside developers (RunSignUp really needs to get some going there!), and over 140,000 small businesses generated over $100,000 selling thru Amazon. Wow!
The central theme of the letter this year is setting high standards in a company to meet the high expectations of customers. We are completely in sync with Amazon’s focus on customers. We also agree that high expectations are a part of a company culture and can be taught (this fits one of our Guiding Principles – to Learn). We also buy into the concept of “practice makes perfect” – both the fact that we are really just starting to learn the endurance market after 8 years, as well as the fact that we allow our new employees a ramping period to get up to speed to become fully effective.
The thing that could be from Amazon’s explanation of high expectations was the concept of Continuous Improvement. The letter seems to say that high expectations are achieved instantly, when in fact Amazon is known for continuously improving – always adding value to Amazon Prime (like we do to RunSignUp with lots of free goodies) for example. Bob is writing this as he is returning from a CloudBees meeting, where he serves on the board. CloudBees is a fast growing technology company that is focused on enabling the Continuous Delivery of software, so we bring those ideas back into RunSignUp.
Continuous Delivery has many elements and advantages. Some of the highlights are:
- Customers get access to the latest advances and technology as soon as possible
- RunSignUp gets real customer feedback early based on real use
- No feature is ever “complete” – we learn and continue to adjust and improve
- Small changes reduce the chance of problems. By delivering over 1,500 releases of our software each year, we detect and correct issues in small, bite-size pieces. This minimizes negative customer impact and (knock on wood) has been a major factor is RunSignUp being Continuously Available (Zero Downtime) for nearly 3 years.
- Brings energy to our company and to our customers – there is always something new happening
- Our employees and customers are always learning – which is not only fun, but expands all of our capabilities
As Jeff Bezos says, it is still just Day 1 for bringing technology to the endurance market. We will use the concepts he describes, as well as our focus on Continuous Delivery to bring our customers the technology solutions you need to make your events the best they can be.