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If Amazon was a bank

It amazed me to see the back office of one of the largest operations in the world in action today.

Yes, I’m talking about Amazon.

A place you would think would be a seamless operation of high technology but, in reality, is a bit of a mess.

I mean sure, from an external view, it all looks like one great brand with multiple divisions as encapsulated by this slide deck from Erick Schonfield at Techcrunch recently:

But dig away internally and it’s a little bit different.

The book division doesn’t talk to the music division.  The music division won’t talk with the electronics division. The retail business won’t talk with the wholesale business.  The wholesale business won’t talk with the cloud business.  Oh, and the Kindle division won’t even talk with the book division!

None of them will share customer information with each other and, as a result, no-one knows what customers buy from Amazon as a group, when or with what sort of payment type.

There’s no view on Amazon’s share of wallet or who is cross-selling what to each customer.

They have tried to improve this over the years, but the line of business heads for books, music, electronics, retail, wholesale, cloud and kindle are all at each other’s throats, motivated by their own line of business results.

I heard that Jeff Bezos thought about a mass clearout of all management and replacing them with a new organisational structure that would allow seamless integration of all divisions with a single platform for the company to see a single version of all the customer information in a single view … but no sooner was this mentioned than the Board’s management and Chairman slapped him around the face and he had to back down.

This was due to a number of senior managers questioning his integrity with the Chairman.

Oh, how easy it would be if Amazon were a brand new, fresh business that could change things.

Ah, but Amazon is a brand new business and it has changed things.

Of course, it has divisions – and divisions are meant to do just that, divide – but Amazon’s divisions don’t divide the organisation by customer owners but by logical structure of organisational delivery.

So what sort of business would divide customers across lines of business so that never the twain shall meet?

What sort of business could have customers caught up in several areas of their business, but dealt with as though they were all separate people rather than just one person?

What sort of business could not recognise that a small business customer might be one and the same as their premium accountholder?

What sort of business could ignore the fact that this person is living with that person with two teenagers in the family?

What sort of business would allow their loans business to stop their savings business from making contact with the customer, even though they work for one and the same company?

What sort of business would allow line of business owners to stake their turf for internal gain but at the customer’s loss?

Hmmmm ….  I think I could name a few.

And the one’s I’m thinking of have four letters that start with ‘B’ and end with ‘K’.

Why did I blog this?

The answer is in a blog post I placed recently about information wars.

Worth bearing in mind.

 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Bob

    Chris, you are missing the point. Amazon is customer centric in its approach even if its technology is not entirely glued together. Basic things like tracking a customer query are part and part of their service, banks have no concept this. A global operating structure and a single customer channel are other features that banks are incapable of delivering other than in the most superficial way. Technology may be 10 years old and the result of a growing business strategy, and yes they are storing legacy for themselves. But banks have been there for 20 years and with all the regulatory change, internal challenges for resource and pressure on costs funds these are unlikely to be addressed in the medium term.