Amazon & SAP: The geographical search for domain expertise

Tom Paine

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Amazon North America fulfillment center network 2015 /
MWPVL International (Click to enlarge)

Amazon announced at the beginning of the year plans to add 100,000 employees during 2017.

And these are not only fulfillment jobs. Amazon is geographically diversifying its workforce, not just in its fulfillment centers, but for higher-level development work as well.

It opened an office in Minneapolis in Mid-2016 , initially aiming for 100 employees, focused mostly on ecommerce and logistics, areas where the Twin Cities have a deep pool of talent. A source tells me Amazon plans to get much larger there. The talent pool in Seattle can not grow enough to keep up with its demand for talent.

Last month, Amazon announced a new office in Pittsburgh. It already has has 50 employees working in technical roles on Amazon Web Services and Alexa, and expects to add dozens more over time, NEXTpittsburgh reported.

Also last month, the Boston Globe reported that Amazon was looking for 100,000 to 200,000 square feet in downtown Boston. It already has substantial employment at Kendall Square in Cambridge.

Amazon also has ecommerce staff in New York. And of course it has Amazon Web Services' enormous US East data center operation in Northern Virginia.

Here is a listing of Amazon's fulfillment and distribution centers worldwide.

You can see the concentration around Philly and the Lehigh Valley. And Amazon's Prime Air is running numerous cargo flights out of Lehigh Valley International.

But while it has a scattering of non-fulfillment professionals in the Philly area, there doesn't appear to be any significant functional groups here. But its an intriguing idea.


Meanwhile, on a smaller scale, SAP has been expanding its Pittsburgh operations. SAP will be adding 242 jobs there, along with some jobs in Newtown Square, the company announced along with Governor Wolf in January. It already has 579 employees inside the K&L Gates Center downtown.

While some of its Pittsburgh operations represent general regional functions, its also a major center for SAP's supply chain business.

It acquired Pittsburgh-based SmartOps in 2013, and SAP tells me that the Pittsburgh office will be the largest centralized presence for SAP's major supply chain entity, Ariba, outside of its headquarters in Palo Alto.

In case you haven't noticed, supply chain tech is hot. New technologies (in-memory, Cloud, IoT, AI, maybe even blockchain), are opening up new possibilities, and Amazon and the on demand economy are driving the use cases forward. Old mainframe systems were limiting. Pittsburgh, with its industrial legacy and universities, particularly Carnegie Mellon, has long been a leader in supply chain systems and implementations. Philly has some assets in that area as well.

2/20: Boomi competitor MuleSoft files to raise $100 million in IPO; SAP license fees are due even for indirect users, court says

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