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Business and Technology Insights

Building Agility in a World of Unpredictability

 
September 29, 2017

Companies increasingly focus their time, energy, and resources on one question: how do we survive in a marketplace thats becoming more crowded, complex, and competitive with each passing day? New and emerging technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) have blurred industry boundaries, lowered barriers to entry, and made small and frequent innovations critical to business success.

We live in the world of VUCA Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Accelerating change, unstable markets, and uncertain outcomes characterize the business environment. The success of long-term plans is compromised in a world that is becoming more unpredictable. Technology is impacting the how and why of businesses at breakneck speed. Mobile and pervasive computing, Big Data collection and analytics, cloud computing, robotics, and AI have opened up previously unimaginable possibilities.

Social media has become a vital medium for customer engagement. What started off as a tool for peer-to-peer interactions now enables businesses to connect and customer-to-customer relationships to flourish. Tech solutions such as iTunes and Google Play have transformed online media distribution. Digital and mobile savvy entrants are disrupting the financial services sector. Nimble offerings, such as Google Wallet and the completely digital Hello Bank! have reinvented customer experiences. Customers have matured and demand consistent experiences across platforms, greater engagement, innovation, and tailor made solutions. Corporate behemoths are struggling to remain relevant and grappling with the complexities of revamping their existing systems.

To survive in the future and deliver the unknown, organizations need to keep a tab on the changing customer needs and stay abreast of game-changing technologies. To retain their competitive edge and thrive, they must become agile across the enterprise.

Agility is all about making sure that you are nimble and quick. Organizations have to build innovative ecosystems that can constantly sense the changes around them, forecast them, reach out to external groups, understand changing customer expectations, and then respond with agility. This means both an outward looking approach to read the environmental dynamics, and an inward looking approach to respond and course correct effectively.

For greater impact and to stay ahead of the competition, you must build agility across development teams, IT functions, and other business functions. This means smart and responsive systems of budget creation, procurement, performance management, collaborative working, and new marketing capabilities. Motivated employees, lean processes, collaborative frameworks, and competent leadership that has the will to mature to a responsive enterprise are required.

It is essential to understand that agile isnt just for delivery of IT projects. Culture lies at the heart of an agile enterprise that adopts agile behavior all through. Its not an end result but a state of mind and a way of managing day-to-day operations. It is a way to build a collaborative workplace and an ecosystem that fosters innovation.

Agility will help businesses be nimble in their response to changes in the external environment, create smart solutions, and ensure theyre able to deliver those solutions early and often.

If youd like to know more about how your organization can become a more agile enterprise, attend my workshop The Alchemy of Enterprise Agility at the Agile Business Conference in London on October 4 – 5, 2017.

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Manav is Lead Partner for Agile Consulting at TCS and is leading Agile, Scrum Executive Coach and Consultant with a proven track record in global product development, business process transformation and change management. Manav was a Finalist in the UK Agile Awards 2014 & 2013 for Best Agile Coach/ Mentor and Most Valuable Agile Player. Prior to joining TCS, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo!, Abbey and ‘Marks & Spencer’ at both strategic and operational levels. Manav is Certified SAFe Program Consultant, Certified SAFe Agilist, Prince 2 Practitioner, and Scrum Master and Accredited Trainer.