Thoughts on Playing to Win

I was fortunate to be a panel member on the ‘Playing to Win’  keynote session at ad:Tech along with MarkCuban, Ian Wolfman of MEplusYOU, and Stephanie Fierman of MediaCom.

While a fair amount of coverage of the session zeroed in on some strong comments about Apple, the main theme that emerged was the perceived strength of Amazon has the benefit of a clear vision and an incredible ability to execute on strategy. Their ability to enter into new markets that align with their customer-first, marketplace for the world vision is second to none.

While poling my friends and peers on their view of Amazon, several themes came out clearlu again and again: Transparency and customer service. Amazon excels in being upfront about what they offer and then executing on their promise. It’s a clarity of purpose that comes through to the user. The other panelists agreed. While Amazon might not have the best net margin, it has the clearest strategy and perhaps the best operational abilities of the tech giants.

Google, Apple and Yahoo, the other companies we discussed, seemed challenged by the need to redefine themselves, or to enter into entirely new markets very different from their legacy business. Google especially has seen few business models it does not want a part of, yet it still derives the vast bulk of profits from advertising – search advertising especially – their legacy business.

Mark Cuban also noted how Facebook seemed to have lost some focus on their users, saying to the effect that they shifted “180 degrees, from customer-focused to investor-focused” since going public. While this does not seem to have hurt Facebook yet, it’s hard to know what the future holds.




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