Amazon and Whole Foods expose an ecosystem gap – the last mile

In case you were hibernating or out of range of cell cover or WiFi during the last few days, you know that Amazon has made an offer to acquire Whole Foods.

This places the largest online merchant in direct competition with some of the largest retailers in the US – grocery stores – and continues Amazon’s move into “bricks and mortar” businesses.

On this blog Paul and I have been writing about the importance of innovation in platforms and ecosystems.

With this acquisition, Amazon is attempting to extend its platforms into the “real” world and link up its power in the online world with physical stores.  Amazon understand a lot about attracting customers to its site, and does a reasonably good job at distribution.  Amazon gains a trusted “bricks and mortar” company that is respected (or sneered at) by consumers.  Whole Foods isn’t nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” for nothing, and there are some interesting dynamics between a company that isn’t concerned with profits and a company well-known for top of the line products and good customer service.  But we aren’t here to evaluate the integration of these companies, as much as to identify an ecosystem gap.

Amazon and the last mile problem

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So Let’s Take the Autonomous Car in the Wider Ecosystem Perspective

Image Credit: Rinspeed

My collaborative colleague here on this website, Jeffrey Phillips, recently wrote a piece on his own blogging site “What autonomous cars tell us about the future of innovation.”  I could not resist picking up on this by taking a broader ecosystem perspective to autonomous vehicles and all the mounting “unintended consequences,” many yet to be fully worked through.

We tend to focus always on the innovation promises of new growth and achieving a clearer competitive advantage, yet we often ‘gloss over’ or push issues and problems onto others to resolve, it is often that innovation has many “unintended consequences”.

Many “unintended consequences” are often very unfortunate and we so often fail to see the consequences, many times our capabilities run ahead of our foresight.Casual maps or cognitive mapping can help reduce these.

We often fail to recognize the “connected system” as we focus on our narrower objectives and fail to fully appreciate the primary objectives of others or the impact this might have. We need to take more of the ‘wider system’ approach into consideration as it might highlight missed opportunities but equally, consequences can have a higher impact cost than expected that allows one part of this wider ecosystem to gain increased value and return but for many others will have a higher knock-on economic cost. Continue reading