In a recent post over on a dedicated website for discussing ecosystems and platforms, I was discussing the differences between Amazon and Alibaba. I quote “I’d say Amazon are “asset heavy” whereas Alibaba remains “asset light”.
They might be operating at the two ends of the current internet trading spectrum and are coming from different market maturity positions but it is the asset management that is becoming critical for delivering the profit or dragging performance.
Now Amazon is far from “asset heavy” when you compare them to the Industrial companies like GE but asset orchestration is seemingly getting far greater management time for all companies it seems. The lighter you are, the more likely you are to be more flexible and adaptive to respond to more disruptive challenges being faced by industries that are undergoing the shift to being more “digitally enabled”. Alibaba is very much a good asset orchestrator.
We so often get caught up in the building of our capabilities. In some ways, I keep attempting to “peel the innovation onion” in explaining the need to focus on building the capabilities in different ways but to be honest, it needs these various approaches to an ever-changing environment.
A different intensity of innovation onion perhaps? Why, well we have the business of today, the emerging business of tomorrow and the future business that will provide a radically different set of capability building needs?
The struggle to date is that innovation remains hard to manage well; we strive to systematize it and then attempt to replicate any success we then have, so as to achieve more, yet more often than not. we do not take into account all the variables that came together for that particular winning outcome. Often this does not work on a repetitive basis as the variables that make up innovation can be different for each innovation event or activity but we can learn under a growing ‘range of’ differentiating capabilities.