Monday, July 23, 2012

Amazon Career Choice Program posted the following message on its primary landing page this morning:
[Quote is between the two rows of asterisks]
Dear Customers,
At Amazon, we like to pioneer, we like to invent, and we're not willing to do things the normal way if we can figure out a better way.

One area where we've seen particular success is our fulfillment center network. Sustained innovation inside our fulfillment centers has driven improved reliability, accuracy, and speed of delivery, as well as productivity and safety. Our high productivity allows us to pay our fulfillment center employees 30% more than traditional physical retail store employees while still offering customers the lowest prices. Our work on safety practices has been so effective that it's statistically safer to work in an Amazon fulfillment center than in a traditional department store.

Our bias for reinvention extends into our recruiting teams. For most of the year, our full-time fulfillment center employees can keep up with customer demand. But during the holiday gift-giving season, our peak needs temporarily double, and we employ many more people. Our seasonal recruiting program called CamperForce — where RVers combine work with camping — has been very successful and much written about in the media. And our military veteran recruiting program effectively helps vets transition into the civilian workforce. Amazon was recently named the #1 Top Military Friendly Employer by G.I. Jobs Magazine.

Those are just a few examples, and innovation doesn't stop. Today, we're announcing our newest innovation — one we're especially excited about — the Amazon Career Choice Program.
Learn about the Amazon Career Choice ProgramLearn about the Amazon Career Choice ProgramLearn about the Amazon Career Choice ProgramLearn about the Amazon Career Choice Program
Many of our fulfillment center employees will choose to build their careers at Amazon. For others, a job at Amazon might be a step towards a career in another field. We want to make it easier for employees to make that choice and pursue their aspirations. It can be difficult in this economy to have the flexibility and financial resources to teach yourself new skills. So, for people who've been with us as little as three years, we're offering to pre-pay 95% of the cost of courses such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, nursing, and many other fields.

The program is unusual. Unlike traditional tuition reimbursement programs, we exclusively fund education only in areas that are well-paying and in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Like many of our innovations at Amazon, the Career Choice Program is an experiment. We're excited about it and hope it will pay big dividends for some of our employees. This is one innovation that we hope other companies in this economy will copy.

Thanks for being a customer.

This is a very intriguing and innovative program that addresses several urgent issues that are plaguing the job market and the economy. I applaud Amazon for truly thinking "outside the box" on this one, where many people who may be filling boxes for Amazon today may be studying to be skilled workers and technicians with Amazon's help in just a few years' time. And let's face it, for a huge percentage of the workforce, this is WAY BETTER than a standard college-track degree program. Tip of the hat to Jeff Bezos and company! You've done it again!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Amazon UK and the Olympics

I received the following email from this evening:

"As London 2012 approaches, customers in parts of London may be preparing to make changes to their daily routine. We wanted to let you know about the steps we've taken at Amazon to ensure that your deliveries continue uninterrupted.

"We have worked closely with our carrier network to ensure that you receive your packages on time, from the moment the torch arrives in London on 16 July until the closure of the Olympic Park on 14 September. This includes residential and commercial addresses in or around the Olympic venues. The carriers delivering your Amazon orders have all planned for any disruption that the Olympic Road Network could cause. They're using a variety of different methods to ensure your usual delivery service continues including employing more staff, bicycle routes and foot deliveries, to name but a few.

"If you'd like more information, we've created a dedicated page with all you need to know about deliveries to London and the other Olympic venues. This page will give you all the latest details about Amazon's delivery options during London 2012:

"We're also pleased to let you know about a new way to receive your Amazon orders. There will be 25 automated Amazon Lockers situated at convenient locations like shopping centres, high street locations and some transport links. The Amazon Locker network is growing and will continue to be available even after the Games have finished, allowing you to choose where to have your Amazon order delivered--then you can collect at a time that's best for you."

Ironically, I mentioned the Amazon Locker network in a previous post today.

PCI and the Cloud

Robert Westervelt, News Director of Cloud Security, has an excellent in-depth interview with Diana Kelley, a partner at Amherst, N.H.-based consultancy SecurityCurve on the impact of Cloud Computing on PCI compliance, discussing in part how the PCI Data Security Standards (on a three-year update/approval schedule) are struggling to keep up with fast-evolving technologies.

Things are complicated enough when SaaS providers offer gateway services for things like tokenization and encryption, but these are relatively straightforward compared to "custom payment software such as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), where the responsibilities [of the provider] change a little bit," to say the least!

I highly recommend Westervelt's succinct, insightful article.

Amazon's Same-Day Delivery Strategy

Now that Amazon has given in on the sales tax issue, it has decided that it should leverage its new "nexus" in populous states with a strategy of same-day delivery on most purchases (for a small surcharge), based on a bevvy of new state-of-the-art warehouses (using picking robots from newly acquired Kiva Systems) it is building in New Jersey, Virgnia (2),Tennessee, Texas, and California (2) costing over $500 million. Ten more states will see new Amazon warehouses in the next three years, employing 10,000 people.

For details on this and other possible Amazon delivery strategies (such as PIN-accessed lockers in drug and convenience stores), see this article in Slate.
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