A New Innovation Model: Amazon Evolved from Books to Cloud and Groceries & Meal Delivery
Data, AI, Automation, Quantum Computing and the Post-PC Revolution
IDC projects that total worldwide data will be 163ZB (that is a trillion gigabytes) in five years. The power to transform our world is locked up, unused and unstructured, in this data. Fully a third of business leaders say they cannot access their own data in meaningful ways, let alone discover all new insights from it.
A strategic cluster of technologies will take a fast-growing flame of human knowledge and accelerate it into a chain reaction, immeasurably larger and hotter than anything imagined today.
Innovation in cloud, data and analytics have lit a fuse. EDM and machine learning added fuel and commercial AI and Quantum Computing will launch self-fueling chain reaction.
Cloud accelerated data, data accelerated analytics, analytics accelerated automation, EDM accelerated analytics, AI accelerates automation. Quantum computing will supercharge the whole ecosystem.
AI Growth Accelerating Past 300% a Year
Forrester says businesses investment in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will increase 300% in 2017 than in 2016. Current generations of Machine Learning technologies allow us to analyze data at scale and will ’drive faster business decisions in marketing, e-commerce, product management, and other areas of the business by helping close the gap from insights to action.’ AI will be used to automate discovery, experimentation and even coding and further AI. It is a self-fueling technology with no practical limit in scale.
Rose’s Law of Quantum Computing is Moore’s Law on Steroids
Rose’s famed predictions for Quantum Computing tell us that we are about to break Moore’s Law forever. For all our technology improvements, we compute much like we did decades ago. We don’t know when we will get commercial devices that use quantum states in place of binary values. But we know when we do it will change everything. Quantum devices will allow AI to solve problems and innovate, manage data and develop insights at orders of magnitude greater than imagined today.
The End of Tools
Computers, data, cloud services, analytics tools and so on are tools. Better, more powerful, easier to use tools. AI fuels automation and, when hyper-charged with quantum computing power, takes the tools out of our hands. The chain reaction of all this means innovation at speed and scale that will require new terms for measurement.
The Amazon Innovation Model
This means that humans will primarily contribute principles, strategies and vision to the next revolution. Those who don’t focus on building strategy and capabilities now will be left behind. Companies of all sizes and in every industry need to develop a strategic road map. Innovation will come to every industry and from unexpected directions. The model that took Amazon from books to challenge cloud computing and retail food and meal services is the future of innovation. Their strategic competitive driver is data and computing power. They didn’t expand or pivot into new businesses, these businesses were exposed to disruption by anyone who could innovate using this new model.
Contact us today. CCC helps business and technical leaders to develop these strategies and capabilities to ensure more than their survival.
Citing data from Dow Jones VentureSource, Cloud Commerce CEO Michael Zammuto published a warning for startups. Raising your next round will be tougher than the last round. Zammuto wrote that several trends including the economy, some successful startup exits and seed and venture platforms combined to increase rates of startups. From 2010 to 2015 the rates of seed and ‘A’ round investments more than doubled but “B” and later rounds did not increase. At the same time, startup failure rates dropped to historically low rates. All this supports the premise more startups are launching but failing to get growth funding to scale.
The Cloud is Pushing Down Startup Costs
Research has shown that cloud services, particularly Amazon Web Services (AWS) have led to an increase in seed and early venture funding. This is because cloud providers succeeded in lowering the costs t founder of launching and operating a startup. Shared work spaces, freelancer networks and faster and cheaper development tools and technologies are also lowering costs. The implications of this are that it has become cheaper for a founder and investors to test an idea so we saw a corresponding increase in startup rates.
We have not seen a corresponding increase in the success rates of startups. Venture staffing did not increase substantially so startups got less guidance and VCs are less connected to many of their investments. We have already seen a large drop off in later round funding or successful exits. But we also have not seen an increase startups ceasing operations. This is because this same reduction in startup costs also means lower operating costs.
Scraping By – Not Winning But Not Losing
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of under-capitalized startups where the founders struggle to raise funds. Early stage staff have become great at keeping these companies limping along but many are not really progressing. Cloud Commerce Consulting helps firms avoid this trap. First, we can help firms to gain the momentum and validation they need to stand out and succeed in ‘B’ round investments. Second, we can help with workable, organizational scaling program that transitions the firm from startup to growth mode.
Startups are not just competing within their industry against entrenched players and other innovators. They are competing against startups of every kind for increasingly dear venture dollars. You developed a development plan for your product and a marketing and sales plan for your growth, do the same for your fundraising today.
Michael Zammuto has launched a new blog focused on major technology trends and their impact on our future. This journal included writings on Artificial Intelligence, Automation and various policy issues. Please consider visiting,
Cloud Commerce CEO, Michael Zammuto on a Challenging Environment for ‘B’ Rounds
The gap between initial funding and firms shutting down has increased and with overall funding dropping Michael Zammuto says
to expect a massive increase in failures in 2017 and 2018. From 2010 to 2015 the number of companies receiving early stage angel and ‘A’ round investments climbed dramatically. Market forces, tech trends contributed but so too did some concerted efforts to make it easier to form a tech fund. Everything from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to shared workspaces, to better smart phones to better development tools all contributed to lowering the barrier to entry for startups.
As published online today, Michael Zammuto explains the the unintended consequence of this is that those startups did not get access to more VC governance or talent (or luck). Overall funding has started to drop and the gap for later stage, ‘B’ round investments has gotten large to a concerning degree. This creates a special challenge for startups to stand out and demonstrate why they deserve more capital.
To offset this increased challenge, Cloud Commerce suggests reviewing your strategy well before you need to raise money, to start raising money earlier and ask for more. Critical to ‘B’ round funding it to ‘prove’ that the core assumption about how the business will scale is demonstrated, even on a small scale. If you depend upon network effect, or cheap content or clients upselling then focus on optimizing for that metric. Don’t spend unnecessary capital on product enhancements, focus instead on proving you have the model right and just need capital to hit your multi-year projections. You should expect that your ‘B’ round will be more difficult to complete and you have a business to run so get help and stay focused on proving your story.
As mentioned in this LinkedIn post, ‘B’ round fundraising is getting more difficult in 2017 and may stay that way for some time. Starting several years ago, a number of innovations came together to make startups cheaper faster and easier to get off the ground. There are actually a lot of contributing elements. the Journal of Financial Economics report focuses on AWS and certainly cloud services and cloud infrastructure have helped a lot of startups get from concept to beta very quickly. I would add a lot of other things to the list including shared work spaces, freelancer networks, angel investing and kick starter funding platforms and even improved mobile communications and productivity apps.
All these things did cause an increase in Angel funding and that also led to more ‘A’ round candidates and funding. More ‘A’ round funding has not led to more success. Venture firms are not increasing staff along with the increase in early stage funding so their early stage investments are getting less governance and attention. So, at least so far, this has led to more failures and harder ‘B’ round fundraising. Cloud Commerce Consulting is here to help in this process and can position early stage companies to demonstrate the progress and market traction needed to warrant closing that critical ‘B’ round.
About the author
Michael Zammuto is the founder and CEO of Cloud Commerce Consulting. He has helped 6 startups achieve profitability, been involved in six exits and major fundraising rounds. He is an adviser to several companies. He also currently servers as Chief Executive of Completed.com. Zammuto was the CEO of Brand.com and Sapago and was President of Chaikin Analytics and Chacha.com. Zammuto also served as COO of Ontario Systems and was a senior executive with Ecometry Corp. before the acquisition by Golden Gate Capital. Mike’s full profile can be read here.
As a generation of Baby Boomer business owners plan their estates, some in the software industry say that thousands of firms providing the highly-specialized software running many businesses will cease operations or be absorbed by competitors by 2021. This will lead to the largest ever consolidation of business software: the elimination of as many as 100,000 tech jobs and the evaporation of billions of dollars in value from Boomer estates.
Michael Zammuto, CEO of Cloud Commerce Consulting specializing in advising mid-sized software companies, claims “These firms are at a crossroad and, while a few will sell for big dollars, I expect 5,000 will be gone by 2021. Many companies, employees and their customers simply are not prepared.”
Boomers Automate Every Business
Throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the personal computer revolution and access to inexpensive and simpler software programming tools allowed enterprising Baby Boomers to found independent, usually niche or vertical business software and service companies providing the first software to thousands of types of businesses including storage units, produce wholesalers, furniture manufacturers, liquor distributors, call centers, collection agencies, insurance companies, restaurants, and thousands more. These businesses required highly specialized solutions to replace their paper-based processes for every aspect of the business including purchasing, manufacturing, service delivery, customer service and account management. Businesses of all sizes bought their first computers and built their first computer networks, launching a revolution in business productivity.
Young software firms often customized the software for each new customer and structured software licensing deals where large licensing fees are captured up front followed by smaller annual maintenance fees of 10% to 20% of the original licensing costs. Over time, software for even small businesses could grow to include thousands of options and configuration settings, ensuring the sales and setup of the software was a costly and lengthy process. As a result, software companies producing vertical software solutions developed fewer economies of scale than more horizontal software providers such as IBM, Salesforce.com or SAP.
Rapid Growth but Little Consolidation
New industries often experience rapid growth in the number of startups followed by similarly rapid consolidation. For example, hundreds of automobile manufacturers were started in a short time span. But, in the 20 years following 1909 more than 200 of them went out of business. This trend eventually left a few huge Detroit behemoths with access to top talent, technology and cash. The software industry grew rapidly throughout the 1980s and 1990s. For reasons that are unique to vertical business software this segment often bucked the traditional patterns.
A similar trend of consolidation did occur in many segments of the tech industry. Computer hardware companies, providers of operating systems and ‘horizontal’ business software like accounting poured hundreds of billions of dollars of sales into IBM, HP, Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Salesforce.com and others providing the platforms for personal computer and internet revolutions. In the 1990s, search engines exploded in number and then consolidated to Google and Bing whose combined market share is reportedly over 95%. Unlike computer hardware, search engines and horizontal software companies, many vertical business software segments didn’t consolidate in the same way.
The founders of many of these vertical business software companies discovered that it was more difficult to raise growth capital or find strategic buyers. The high degree of customization, often relatively small vertical market sizes and usually aging technology limited their appeal as acquisition targets and their access to the capital markets. Some leaders in the space, often backed by private equity, acquired competitors but their success varied due to the same factors that prevented natural consolidation.
Many firms stayed founder-led (or at least family dominated) to varying degrees of success. Most founders discovered their kids couldn’t or wouldn’t take over the business. Much needed outside management expertise and investment capital went to faster growing horizontal software and internet businesses.
Now the one obstacle the founders haven’t been able to avoid is at the door. These founders, with immeasurably valuable experience, are getting old. The oldest boomers are already over 70 with millions more crossing that line every year. Many have stayed vibrant much later than their parents did and are working long after they expected to retire. Their businesses stayed successful enough to keep them engaged but many are still dependent upon their founders’ involvement. Like other Boomers, many are not as financially prepared as they expected due to the 2008 financial crisis and high, long-term health costs eating into their retirement and estate plans.
Large numbers of these firms will not find buyers. Many will simply cease operations, either de-facto closed or sold at bargain basement prices and absorbed into larger software firms. This will lead to a huge opportunity for those few survivors who can gain market share faster than before and an opening for the horizontal platforms and startups looking to take their places. “The ones who survive are preparing today,” Zammuto says, “Cloud Commerce Consulting has a 90-day transformation process to improve these businesses to make them more attractive to acquirers or improve profits and cash positions so they can survive and thrive.”
Contact Cloud Commerce Consulting For a Free Assessment of your software company
The rise of online “mega-platforms”, a small number of sites controlling huge amounts of the internet, is obsoleting traditional Sales and Digital Marketing leadership roles to make way for a new Chief Growth Officer. CGOs drive huge sales growth by combining sales, marketing, operational, entrepreneurial and data expertise and they see traditional marketing and sales tactics not as integrated programs but parts of a whole they construct from the ground up in what we are calling Sales Architecture.
Growth In A World of Giants
Today, any scalable, successful sales and marketing program must start with your strategy for working with the mega platforms that control the internet. The main effect of this is that traditional B2B sales and marketing programs must give way for a single, enterprise Sales Architecture that aligns the entire experience from your target audience’s phone and laptop screen to the successful booking at the bottom of your sales pipeline.
Traffic is power and the power has shifted to the huge and mighty. Every gatekeeper, influencer, recommender and decision maker that you need to reach is on some combination of Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, eBay, Instagram or a handful of other sites but social marketing won’t let you reach or influence them.
The number of internet users continues to grow but that growth is dwarfed by the surge in the number of websites. In 1993 there were 108 thousand people on the internet for every website. Ten years later it was 19 people per site and today less than 4. So, your website is lost in an endless digital jungle.
The monsters are getting an ever-growing share of all that traffic too. In 2012, ChaCha built the largest PPC social traffic platform in the world on Twitter. We harnessed a deluge of data to align topics and keywords of large influencer tweets to keywords in articles to optimize advertising revenue per session. As a result, ChaCha.com shot up to become the 35th busiest website in the world in just a few months. Today, if a site had that same traffic today it would nearly make the top 10 because the mega platforms are consuming more and more of the traffic.
At Brand.com we built a platform to connect over 100 major news sources to marketers and could (for a while) use content marketing and SEO to strongly influence search traffic. But Google decimated traditional SEO tactics so the ‘above the fold page 1’ spots are increasingly dominated by mega-platforms and sites with authority you cannot practically build. As planned, this helps shift traffic to Google’s paid search offerings meaning you pay for what used to be free. Increasingly, sites like Google are integrating information into their search results effectively hoarding traffic from sites in their own search results. Today content marketing is a powerful tool but without paid traffic sources you will rarely get volumes for large scale marketing programs.
This consolidation means the giants are squeezing everyone else. Publishers are getting killed by the downward trend in advertising rates while marketers are having to pay more and more for access to eyeballs. This means that traditional online marketing, especially so called ‘brand building’ is getting killed with out of control costs per leads (CPL) and campaigns that drive clicks for the behemoths but few sales for you.
Sales Architecture: One Internet – One Pipeline – A Billion Cohorts
Clicks don’t equal sales. Clicks equal cost. Because the mega platforms were built themselves around network effect, at their core they are B2C engines. Every step in the process needs to be built around how these mega platforms can be tamed to profitably increases B2B sales at the end. This means the correct message must reach each person in the sales process at the right stage. This means that online marketing and your inside and outside sales have to work together as a single unit. Small errors in one tactic can be harder to find but cost you dearly in missed growth. Guerilla marketing and the company website or blog and niche sites such as those around verticals have their place but are decreasing elements of the sales architecture. For starters, no activity can be done without clear cohort analysis that connects every marketing and sales decision with the outcome and few organizations have true end-to-end management of their spend.
Extinction Level Event: The Demise of Sales & Marketing
At great firms the traditional border between sales and marketing campaigns has collapsed. These companies are seeing massively scalable success by moving to a Chief Growth Officer who owns the company’s Sales Architecture and views every marketing and sales activity as part of a continuum. I always house sales and marketing together and measured and reward every step from beginning to end. Getting complete cohort analysis and testing of every critical decision and visibility and KPIs at every step is a massively difficult process that many traditional sales and marketing experts cannot tackle.
Traditional sales and marketing roles historically attracted very different types of people and they approach the internet from their silo. Most have failed to keep up with the lighting-fast pace of change. Surprisingly few have any deep knowledge about the internet. Many talk a good game but probe and ask your sales manager the CPL for their leads. Ask them how to social proof during the proposal phase in a world where every company is Googled. Ask them to show you the cohort of close rates for outside sales on leads from content marketing vs. advertising. Or ask them how they connect the dots between the positioning value prop in social marketing with the final pitch. Too often you will find a disconnected process. Many sales people view online marketing purely in terms of market awareness and lead generation. As leads reach the bottom of their sales funnel the tactics and messaging increasingly looks like the same approach as 5 or 10 years ago. Chief Growth Officers, on the other hand, ensure that every step of the process supports the sales team converting the booking by ensuring cohesive prospect experience throughout.
Marketers are even worse off. Many corporate marketers feel totally disconnected from the sales process. So, they strongly naturally resist any integrated pipeline metrics. Few are taught direct response marketing and fewer still know how those responses support the later stages of the sales process. Too often, traditional marketing leaders want the same tall wall between their online efforts and close rate and want to be judged on engagement metrics that make direct marketers roll their eyes.
The Chief Growth Officer owns the Sales Architecture and is comfortable at the entire continuum of the marketing and sales process. They align the sales and marketing resources in new ways that allow them to leverage the mega platforms to drive massive growth. Armed with essential operational and technical skills, this new breed of growth leaders build organizations that use data like never before.
About The Author
Mike Zammuto, CEO Cloud Commerce Consulting
Mike is an Saas and internet executive and expert in organizational transformation and building highly scalable sales & marketing organizations. Mike
Transformation Executive Who Repeatedly Accelerates Growth to >100%
Deep Expertise Selling and Marketing High Growth SaaS CRM, PoS, ERP & Revenue Lifecycle from $1k to $5M Price Points
Top Digital Marketing Expert Who Built The 35 Busiest Website, The World’s Largest Social PPC Network, Content Marketing Network of 100 News Organizations, Massive Global Email Marketing, Hugely Profitable Webinar Programs and Keyword Hyper-Optimized Display Advertising Programs
Operator – Entrepreneur Hybrid Who Builds Optimized, Data-Addicted Sales Operations That Win
Case Studies at Stanford Business School & Microsoft Dynamics CRM