I was reading the annual reports of Walmart and a couple of things stood out that I didn’t know before
Walmart’s increasing focus on eCommerce, Technology and Supply Chain in the US
Walmart’s CAPEX in eCommerce, Technology & Supply Chain stood at $3.9, $4.1, $4.9 and $5.2 billion in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. To put it in perspective, compared to the overal CAPEX in the US, the investment in eCommerce, Technology and Supply Chain made up 46%, 57%, 60% and 68% approximately in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. The increase highlighted Walmart’s focus on those areas in order to be competitive in a highly competed industry.
Member’s Mark revenue
In April 2017, Walmart re-introduced Member’s Mark, which is its private label umbrella brand at Sam’s Club. In 2018 and 2019, Member’s Mark’s revenue exceeded $10 and $12 billion respectively. The private label made up approximately 18% and 23% of Sam’s Club without-fuel revenue in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
I have been thinking about the prospect of marrying the two concepts: coworking space and managed services?
Coworking space shops help individuals, startups and even big corporations operate without worrying about renting office, meeting rooms, equipment, or Internet. Members can also rely on these shops for tasks such as mailing, forwarding or receiving guests at reception desks. The main premise of coworking space is to help businesses focus on what matters by outsourcing low-ROI tasks to the host and to get off the ground with as low a fixed cost as possible. Moreover, there is another marketed value proposition that coworking space facilitates random interactions and access to like-minded individuals, potential team members or investors. It may be true. Some try to offer added values such as workshops or consulting. Nonetheless, such propositions are commoditized now. There is no differentiation among coworking space providers. If we follow the continuum of resource sustainability by Jeffrey Williams, coworking space seems to fall into fast-cycle bucket. In that bucket, the only way to compete is fast time-to-market
Think about managed service providers as your extended IT department. Their primary premise is the same as coworking space providers. Managed service providers help companies to manage mundane & low-ROI tasks such as patching, updates, monitoring, installing and to start a business with a low CAPEX. Instead of spending a lot of money and time procuring hardware and setting up your own environment, you can go to Managed Serviced Providers and everything can be ready in a matter of hours or a day. Additionally, your developers don’t have much experience in migrating to public cloud? These providers will assist you. You want your developers’ valuable time on real innovation and coding instead of managing public cloud environments? These providers will do so for you. While these public cloud providers have incredible global footprint and a variety of services, they don’t necessarily offer great customer services. Unless you are willing to pay for technical assistance packages that can run up to $15,000/month, there will be little hand-holding. That’s why managed AWS market has a CAGR of 13.9%
Why not combining the two?
The two services share the same primary premise. Most startups and businesses nowadays leverage IT to gain competitive advantages and meet customer needs. Chances are that many startups or small businesses at coworking space leverage Internet and the cloud extensively. If coworking space shops can bundle managed services with their memberships, it will create more value and appeal more to members. If a coworking space can have at the minimum one or two certified Azure or AWS engineers in-house to help guide startups with their infrastructure, wouldn’t that be something of value?
In my mind, it makes sense to offer an infrastructure-level service that every Internet startup will need. Eventually, if enough coworking space providers offer managed services as well, there will still be no differentiation. The keys are time-to-market and the art of bundling and pricing. It’s quite intriguing to not see many coworking space shops do so. Perhaps, I am missing something. Or not.