Here we are—the 10th AWS re:Invent conference is close at hand. What a long way we’ve all come—from 6,000 hardcore techies sitting in the hallways on one floor of the Sands Conference Center in Las Vegas learning about a handful of AWS services, to the last pre-COVID conference in 2019, when more than 60,000 of us were running around Las Vegas and now a full Hybrid event to support the massive ecosystem that AWS has become.

What a long, strange trip it's been

AWS revenues 10 years ago were not public and most likely a rounding error in the overall Amazon annual report, but now it’s the most profitable part of the business, with over $45 billion in annual revenue. The AWS Partner Network has grown to tens of thousands today, making it one of the biggest cloud ecosystems in the world. From Accenture’s point of view, we had only a handful of AWS certifications and less than 20 attendees at the first re:Invent. Today, we have more than 20,000 certified resources holding over 25,000 AWS certifications, and we are recognized by AWS with more than 20 competencies, with more in the works.

Back in Vegas

This year, the event will be back in Vegas. Due to travel restrictions and the hybrid option, I expect the crowd to temporarily fall back closer to 2012 levels. But I’ll be happy to welcome at least some of you in person. It will be great to see so many friends and colleagues, and to feel the excitement of all the great things AWS is doing. 

It will be different this year not seeing Andy Jassy on stage, as he passes the clicker to new CEO Adam Selipsky to do a deep dive into the amazing services AWS has developed over the last year. Adam is no stranger to AWS nor re:Invent. He was front and center with Accenture in 2015 as we launched the Accenture AWS Business Group. Adam has a passion for the technology and for the builders that make it all come to life. I’m sure he will have many exciting things to say and announce—things we’ll be talking about for weeks following the event.  (I’m also looking forward to his music selections for his keynote.)

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When coupled with profound structural changes after a year of turbulence, a business environment ripe for reinvention has emerged.

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Compressed transformation

As we continue to emerge from COVID, I expect we will hear and see lots of examples of how customers are accelerating their journey to cloud because of the way they had to innovate and find workarounds over the past 20 months. This new business challenge is what Accenture is referring to as “compressed transformation”—same scale of change, but in a fraction of the time. We’re now seeing new supply chains and business models being set up in days not months, thanks to cloud, and new scientific breakthroughs are being realized in months not years. When coupled with profound structural changes following more than a year of turbulence, a business environment ripe for reinvention has emerged. We’re more focused than ever on helping clients rotate to the future, and mapping the trajectory needed to support this change.

Builders AND buyers

To enable customers, we need to be thinking about buyers, not just builders, which is a big shift in the cloud world. AWS is great at giving us services and technologies in the form of “building blocks” (think of your favorite childhood toy building set) which you then can assemble. If you follow the instructions, you can create something pretty cool that looks like the picture on the front of the box. But if you choose not to follow the instructions you can build almost anything you want (good or bad). That is great if you have the talent and time to put the parts together, but talent is in short supply right now, and companies often don’t have the time and resources to do it all themselves. So, I’m looking for AWS and their partners to announce more products that are designed for the buyers. These products have to be more than just instructions and they need to include some accelerators to help companies get started building their solution.  

Hybrid is hot

As we heard last year, AWS has added the word “hybrid” to their vocabulary and we should be expecting a lot of exciting things from them in terms of hybrid cloud.  We have seen their march into the hybrid world, starting with Snowball a few years ago and then the addition of services like Outposts, Local Zones, and EKS Anywhere. Hybrid is hot and customers need more services to enable their vision to come to life. What will be next for AWS?

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To enable customers, we need to think about buyers, not just builders, which is a big shift in the cloud world.

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In addition, it would not be re:Invent without some new EC2 instances, and storage or database announcements. I expect to see AWS continue to push on the foundational services like Gravitron and data storage. We heard a bit about that at AWS’s recent Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C. With the continued innovations in terms of higher-end services, the foundational aspects need to keep up. AWS has proven to be really good at that and I don’t expect anything different this year. I expect them to continue to press the boundaries.

All Builders Welcome

The “All Builders Welcome” sessions will be an important part of the event again this year. Accenture will be offering three talks as part of this learning track focused on inclusion and diversity, including my friend Andy Tay taking part in a panel on how diversity is driving greater business value today. AWS continues to offer a lot of innovations affecting social, cultural and health developments. At the Public Sector Summit, for example, AWS announced its “Innovation Studio,” which is about finding new ways to address some of the world’s most pressing societal issues such as sustainability, housing insecurity, social justice, and health and education equity.

Cloud Continuum leaders

I’ll also be interested to see many of the re:Invent activities through the lens of Accenture’s new “Cloud Continuum” research. Not surprisingly, we found that the most successful cloud adopters are using cloud beyond just on-demand compute, storage and network (as was the dominant thinking ten years ago). This subset of organizations leverages the cloud as a launchpad for innovating and new ways of operating. They understand that the cloud is a continuum of capabilities that span from public to edge—and everything in between.

I previously mentioned the AWS Partner Network. Monday we’ll hear from Doug Yeum, Head of Worldwide Channels and Alliances, talking about recent Partner innovations, which are going to become more and more important to all of us. So, this is about how Accenture and AWS are working with companies like Pega, Databricks, SAP, Salesforce, and hundreds more to bring the prebuilt solutions that I mentioned before to our customers.

Be sure to check out Accenture’s re:Invent home page for more, including information about a dozen or so interviews we and our clients will be doing as part of AWS’s theCUBE video platform.

I am sure there will be many more announcements that we will be talking about after this hybrid event.  Even if you are not making the trip to Las Vegas this year, I hope you can join in on the excitement via the virtual option.

See you in a few weeks.

Learn more about  re:Invent 2021 here.

Chris Wegmann

Managing Director – Accenture AWS Business Group

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