Amazon.com has apparently lost its corporate mind. I say "apparently" because
it hasn't really -- but it has suffered the consequences of being
entrepreneurial, as evidenced by its pricing policies for Kindle e-reader
As I write these words, Amazon has priced the Kindle edition of Michel Roberts'
"Strategy Pure and Simple II" (2001) at $15. It asserts you save 40 percent off
the list price of $24.95.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Communication is king in the corporation, as Bob points out
in "Don't let layers of management obstruct the flow of information" | Get sage
advice on IT careers and management from Bob Lewis in InfoWorld's Advice Line
This brings up the question of how these savings are calculated, as it has
priced the hardcover edition of the same book -- not the paperback, mind you --
Well, not exactly -- it appears the book is out of print and only available
through third-party resellers. However, these are new copies we're talking
about, and it puts Amazon.com in the uncomfortable position of violating the
entire Kindle value proposition, which is that once you've bought the device,
every book you buy saves you money.
It's a problem many entrepreneurial companies face as they grow. They pursue
multiple independent strategies, which is a wise thing to do as the chances of
hitting paydirt are better when you try more possibilities.
The downside is that they can find themselves colliding with themselves in the
marketplace. When this happens, they can look quite foolish.
Services companies face this when they go to market in more than one way --
their (for example) SOA and health care sales teams can and do bump into each
other in a prospect's hallway, at which point the company finds itself competing
What does this have to do with running or working in IT?
IT lives and dies on the quality of its relationship with the rest of the
business. One way smart CIOs improve those relationships is to encourage
managers at all levels to reach out and develop personal networks throughout the
company. As they do, they'll find themselves holding informal conversations,
sometimes with the same people. Once that happens there's a danger, and the more
political the company, the worse it is.
Some of those people might play them against each other, trying to manufacture
inconsistencies or to get one to make promises another will have to keep. This
doesn't mean you should try to ride herd on these personal networks and informal
conversations -- but it does mean you should alert everyone to the risks.
As for any advice I might have for Amazon, I don't think so. Jeff Bezos is a far
cannier retailer than I'll ever be, and I'm guessing he's figured this out and
has decided the occasional inconsistency isn't a big enough problem to bother