Monday, December 26, 2005

Years and years ago, I was offered a job in the accounting department at MCI, way back when it was starting out and trying to make a mark as a long distance alternative to AT&T. I turned the offer down because they dealt with what seemed to me like such high volumes - if I remember right, something like 12,000 vendor transactions a week - that I figured I would spend all my time just trying to keep track of all the paperwork and no time actually doing something fun (like learning about the business itself).

I later learned that 12,000 transactions a week wasn't all that big a deal, especially with the introduction of these things called computers (come - pew - ter - s) that helped keep track of lots of transactions more easily than could ever be done with good old pencil and paper.

Still, it boggles the mind - at least my mind - to read that Amazon processed over 100 million items during the holiday season (on their busiest day, 41 items per second, for any of you doing the math). When I think of the systems that allows them to not only process that many orders but also to keep track of what they're doing in real time... and the logistics setup that allows them to move that many items out the door and on to the customer... well, my hat goes off to whoever it was that designed those systems. Jeff Bezos may get the credit for the vision that is Amazon, but it would have been all for naught had someone (or many people, as is probably the case) not developed the software and structure that allowed Bezos to actually see his dream in action. I hope he paid them accordingly.