You can predict how innovative a company will be by watching how close they are to their customers. This will also predict how responsive they will be to market shifts. “Going to the ground” as a corporate culture is a leading indicator of innovative success. For Amazon it’s yearly.
Why I left Google to join Grab
Steve Yegge
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Although Amazon’s “ear to the ground” is yearly WRT their retail sales business, AWS keeps winning the IAAS (and higher-level) markets because they are much closer to the customer than that.

Pretty much, Amazon knows who to copy because they can immediately tell who is succeeding, simply by noting whenever the size of a customer’s AWS bill shows signs of hockey-stick growth. swardley calls this a “future sensing system”.