AWS ups its industry ground game at re:Invent 2021

AWS CEO Adam Selipsky: "There's no industry that hasn't been touched by the cloud... we're tailoring services to industry-specific use cases."
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

AWS CEO Adam Selipsky went vertical in his keynote. 

Amazon Web Services has been honing its industry and vertical strategy for years with cloud-driven use cases in big markets ranging from media to financial services to telecom to oil and gas. At re:Invent 2021, AWS advanced its vertical ground game.

The AWS vertical strategy, which to date I'd characterize as sneaky vertical, is evolving to be more front-facing. CEO Adam Selipsky's keynote revolved around pathfinders who changed industries. Even Florence Nightingale, arguably the mother of the visualization tools, got a plug.

Selipsky also said that AWS would build more abstraction layers on top of services designed for industry-specific use cases.

The gist of Selipsky's message was that industry players aim to revamp industries with the help of AWS infrastructure. A partnership with Nasdaq highlighted how the stock market player has been able to evolve to be a software provider. Dish walked through its 5G network and how it's going to be data-driven, automated and adaptive via AWS. In addition, AWS launched a few missiles against the mainframe and services designed to court big banks. United Airlines walked through its pandemic-fueled migration to the cloud. 3M aims to offer digital products with the help of AWS.

"There's no industry that hasn't been touched by the cloud," said Selipsky, who added that only 5% to 15% of enterprises have moved to the cloud. "It's still early days, and we're tailoring services to industry-specific use cases.

"We've launched targeted services across a wide range of industries," said Selipsky. He cited Amazon FinSpace as an example to prepare financial data. The aim is to power new customer experiences. AWS is also launching the Goldman Sachs Financial Cloud for Data, which combines Goldman Sachs's data with AWS Data Exchange and FinSpace integration. The effort rhymes with Snowflake's Financial Services Data Cloud.

AWS isn't as blatant about targeting verticals and industries as software-as-a-service companies that have never met a cloud that didn't go along with an industry (health care, financial services, government, manufacturing, media, telecom etc. clouds). Nevertheless, AWS has a hefty industry section with bundles of services that apply to various verticals.

What's evolving is that AWS customers are also becoming business partners over time. Here's a quick tour.


Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman said the market operator is a technology provider too.   

Nasdaq: Market operator meets SaaS provider

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman outlined how the market operator is a SaaS provider to the ecosystem focusing on equities, derivatives, crypto and even sports betting. Nasdaq's reach extends into 130 other markets around the world.

The market operator has been an AWS partner since 2008 and has extended its use of services to improve speed, reliability and deliver low latency. To date, Nasdaq has moved data distribution, revenue management, regulatory reporting and market operations to AWS. The next frontier, said Friedman, is Nasdaq's matching engine, which turns an order into a trade.

"We will start with US options markets," said Friedman. "We will be the first market provider that is 100% cloud-enabled."

Going forward, Nasdaq will build edge compute zones with AWS Outposts and offer a private local zone for global capital markets. In other words, Nasdaq will have AWS as an ingredient brand to export trading and clearing tools to its footprint of 130 markets.

Dish: AWS as 5G network backbone

Marc Rouanne, chief network officer at Dish Wireless, is building out a new 5G network entirely built in the cloud. Rouanne said the play for Dish Wireless 5G is to move beyond smartphones to machines.

"Legacy providers have been upgrading the same hardware. We're not building just another "G." There's an opportunity to do more."


Dish Wireless has enterprise ambitions. 

Rouanne said Dish Wireless is looking to be a network of networks and connect "edge to cloud in a simplified manner." By using AWS as its infrastructure, Dish Wireless aims to deliver data and automation at scale.

If you couple Dish Wireless with partnerships with the likes of Verizon for edge computing, and you can see the AWS telecom ground game improving.

3M eyes digital products too

Shaun Braun, senior vice president of digital transformation at 3M, said it is looking to advance its material and physical science know-how in new ways to innovate.

"AWS is helping us become a digital company of the future," said Braun. He added that 3M started moving data centers to AWS as well as applications but now sees the company as a partner for future products.

Braun said 3M has used AWS for its manufacturing operations, covering 200 plants, 51 technology platforms, and 27 countries. 3M can search for materials down to the plant name in minutes. "Our manufacturing is now smarter," said Braun.

In healthcare, AWS drives its 360 Encompass products and services.


Going forward, Braun said 3M is looking to be known for its digital products as much as its physical products. "We are building those capabilities now," said Braun.

3M and AWS are providing a digital marketplace for customers so they can access code, models and tools. "Each success builds on the one before it," said Braun.

These industrial-use cases ultimately become Amazon bundles such as AWS Industrial, which has 5 core services for machine learning, fulfillment networks and equipment management.

United Airlines: Building out its digital game

Linda Jojo, the chief digital officer at United, walked through the airline's 2019 effort to retire legacy platforms and migrate to the cloud, specifically AWS.

When the COVID-19 pandemichit, United had "more pilots than passengers" and revamped to cut costs, improve business resilience and carry out digital transformation efforts.

While that United Airlines example is standard issue, for now, the airline is building out its machine-learning game.

In the big picture, AWS' partnership with United Airlines is a point in time. The long game is about powering industry giants that will use AWS to provide technologies. Ultimately, you can see AWS leveraging relationships with the likes of United Airlines for digital twin services such as AWS IoT TwinMaker. 

The vision: Every company will become a SaaS provider to industries on some level with AWS underneath.

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