Agility – A key to accelerate digital transformation.

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“It’s never over. There is always change and always more to do.”Dr. Brigit Koenig, CEO of German’s Allianz Health

 

 

In the past, communication was slow – as the means of communication were limited and archaic. To know what is trending and which trend has faded away, one has to visit a nearby retail store in person back then—fast forward to 2021, a year that paints an entirely different picture. Changes are happening at a rapid pace; hence these changes are forcing businesses to revisit their organizational models. Therefore, many finance experts believe that agility is essential for a business to survive. CIO insight report suggests that approximately 68% of companies prioritize agility over other initiatives. Why is agility imperative for companies in the modern-day and age? How it helps businesses to survive? You will find answers to these questions- And more about strategizing business agility as part of your business planning and execution processes. 

Size shape, culture, and governance structure of a company are the constituents of an agile work environment. In simple terms agility is the “ability to move quickly and easily.” You must be wondering how this definition relates to your business landscape and digital transformation.

Qualities of agile businesses 

  1. Focus on continuous improvement

     These days, leading companies across the globe are focusing on one major thing: improving their services, processes, and procurement methods. Modern businesses can’t afford to have attitude like, “that’s how we are doing things for the past 50 years; we should change”. 

  • Customer experience is at the top of the priority list 

Agility or improvising daily don’t mean making service processes faster only. Whereas, it also entails improving customer-company interaction through chat, call, or face-to-face interaction with a salesperson. 

  • Staying committed to the vision 

Agile companies don’t jump the bandwagon of following the trend without considering its repercussion and analyzing whether a trend aligns with the company’s vision or not. 

  • Adopting business agility as a protective approach to fuel digital transformation 

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

– W. Churchill

You must be wondering. How does business agility correlate with digital transformation, and how to incorporate business agility into my company’s existing operational model? 

Well, here are three levels of agility adoption that helps in digital transformation

  1. Strategizing business agility 

The ability to figure emerging challenges proactively is critical to construct a profitable business from scratch. Awareness of what is happening around you and data-driven decision-making are essential to maintain an agile and digitally transformed business environment.  Qualitative and quantitative analyses based on KPIs enable agile leaders to monitor performance and find room for improvement. A key example in this regard is the western union shift in the money transfer sector. Despite doing well in the telegraph market, the company focused on alternative sources, which later proved a lifesaving decision for the western union. 

  • Organization agility and digital transformation 

Organizational agility serves as a link between strategy and execution. It depicts the flexibility in the company’s decision-making processes. Efficient resource allocation and optimization of business processes are the primary targets of organizational agility. 

Forbes insights 2020 survey entails that 83% of respondents believe that agile mindset/ flexibility is critical in defining organization agility. Moreover, self-organization lies at the heart of an agile approach. But if many people are working in a firm, you will have to choose a leader who possesses the quality to create a comfortable working environment and bring the best out of individuals. 

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Practicing business agility 

Business executives motivate the generation of a new idea by combining teamwork and inventiveness. Following are the ways to practice business agility. 

  • Eliminating redundancies and flattening hierarchies

It suggests creating a working environment that supports collaboration and iterations, eliminates organizational silos, and improves team communication to speed up decision-making processes. 

  • Self-organizing teams 

Whether it is sales, HR, customer support, or marketing department, business agility is the core value of every department. Business agility imparts a value-driven approach that enables the team to work with freedom. It promotes self-sufficiency and sustainability. Furthermore, it helps teams to innovate, embrace responsibilities and take necessary risks. Overall, self-organizing teams allow top management to focus on strategic progress. According to a recent report highlighting the difference between classic and agile teams, almost 45% of businesses have registered that breaking organizational silos, especially between business and IT, has resulted in agility, team cooperation, mainstreaming technology, and a tactical way working. 

  • Operational agility 

Quality of work and speed are directly proportional to the operational agility of a company. When experts use the term agility, they use scrum – an agility software used by almost 58% of the firms. Moreover, the iterative project management approach imparts value to teamwork and supports constant cooperation with customers. Which, in turn, yields enhanced visibility and flexibility necessary for improving a firm. As a part of a digital transformation initiative, adopting business management software is a prudent step. It helps in the automation and remodeling of core business processes. 

Adopting business agility: necessary technological changes

In the contemporary world adapting quickly to changing customer preferences with an increased focus on cost reduction, revenue growth, and risk management, IT is the principal instrument to attain business agility. 

From defining strategies to framing a data-driven approach, technology plays a crucial role in adopting business agility and transforming digitally. IT has a significant role in all three aspects of business agility: strategic business planning, organizational skill, operational agility. 

Accenture states: “If agility accelerates growth, innovation is the driving force to achieve it.” Accenture also finds that approximately 90% of leaders consider technology innovation to be critical for business growth. Business executives need to simply and modernize existing IT setup, operational models, and business strategies to align business agility with technology. 

 

Developing digital business agility

Hyperawareness, informed decision-making skills, and fast execution is the three things that make a company agile. In unison, these capabilities form a complex, interacting system this necessary to be understood by an enterprise. 

  • Hyperawareness

The firm can detect and monitor changes. Hyperaware companies are attuned to these changes, particularly those that may trigger an opportunity or threat. Both external and internal sources contribute to providing insights related to changes. For example, customers, partners, and competitors are external, while employees are internal sources. Situation and behavioral awareness are two crucial digital accelerators related to hyperawareness in the workforce. 

  • Informed decision making 

A company can come up with the best solution when marred by a challenge. Informed decision-making must be based on factual data rather than only experiences. Upgrading data analytics capabilities is a cornerstone towards establishing informed decision-making. For instance, Proctor & gamble uses decision cockpits and business sphere approaches to improve the decision-making process.  However, even adopting a pragmatic data-driven approach, some companies fail to achieve desired goals. Often, the reason is that the hypotheses of top management are not tested before execution. Dynamic processes help the company to achieve its goals. It consists of two major components: raid intervention and rapid enablement. These abilities allow an organization to frame new capabilities around its key activities like marketing, customer support, and application development. 

Digitally transforming your company: mistakes to avoid

  • Digital transformation has a lot to do with technology leadership 

Almost every company that has devised the roadmap to transform the company says that digital transformation starts at the leadership level. A few companies make the mistake of focusing just on increasing operational efficiency instead of developing agility by improving cross-functional teams’ relations. 

Therefore, successful transformation starts from the top level. The leaders must engage all teams to find new opportunities. This approach opens up new doors to ideas that go well beyond the typical scope of things.  The new system would be more focused on customer needs. Leaders might face the primary challenges over here: i.) Building deep trust and relationships based on mutual understanding among peers. ii) Framing a disciplined plan of action to implement technology without compromising on excellence. 

  • It is a misconception that only tech teams use agility.

The concept of agility started almost 20 years ago with the development of software.  Unfortunately for some companies’ agility still falls into the domain of tech-related organizations. Nevertheless, its abilities to streamline operations and boost sales are helpful for every organizational activity. Agility enables leaders to increase visibility and transparency of operations. 

  • Neglecting cultural aspect in digital transformation

Management expert Peter Drucker has said that culture eats strategy for breakfast- ironically, little importance is paid to culture in digital transformation because culture is difficult to understand and quantify. 

Several studies suggest that 70% of digital transformation fails because of cultural challenges. Companies focusing on the cultural aspect of agility and digital transformation are five times more likely to succeed. 

These three mistakes may prove a significant hurdle in the way of digital transformation and agility. So if you are neglecting any one of them, it is the right time to get back on track and make changes to critical structures, policies, behaviors, and metrics. It will increase the likelihood of success. 

Strategizing business agility and digital transformation 

  • Design for speed and flexibility 

With every changing business environment, organizations need to speed up processes and be flexible in terms of adaptability. Develop your capabilities for designing and deployment in the future. Learn to reorient operations while maintaining the quality quickly. A minimum viable approach would be profitable for a small number of employees and customers. 

  • Engage with the workforce and develop a culture

An evolution in technology may require a significant shift in the culture of an organization. If people are willing to accept changes in technology, the digital transformation automatically sustains itself. 

  • Adopting a service mindset

The modern approach treats technology as a set of services that a company may become a consumer and integrate according to needs. This approach redefines the IT functions. Services are often outsourced and dynamically managed; when a service component is not adequate, you may adapt or replace it.

Digital takeaways

If you have apprehension that your workforce will be reluctant to adapt to agility and digital transformation changes. if you are considering transforming into a digital enterprise you might want to consider working with a Management Consulting firm like JHelmy & Co. We can walk you through developing agility while keeping in focus your business environment. You may start with a lighter version of business agility and may move forward slowly and steadily. In today’s world, your company’s growth is challenged by the pandemic, a global recession, and climate change. Therefore, in times of radical changes in the business world, together, we will re-create an agile and digitally transformed future. Raconteur, in its recent report, has said, “Staying agile is essential as the tech revolution has much further to run while the mobile internet and powerful cloud computing become ubiquitous.” According to this report, more than 80% of the respondents consider agility the essential characteristic of a successful organization. However, this article has thoroughly discussed the features of companies that failed to adapt and diminished in the course. For instance, the list includes some noteworthy mentions like Kodak, Yahoo, Xerox, Nokia, and blockbuster Inc. therefore, the conclusion is as clear as daylight: agile or die.