Technology evolves at an astounding rate, but so does our approach to technology in the business world. Our paradigms and best practices must shift to better adapt to new tech tools, or we run the risk of getting outcompeted. It’s no longer enough to have the best tech in the marketplace; we have to adopt that tech the right way and think about it correctly if we’re going to be successful.
Increasingly, a top priority for integration and consideration is agility in IT.
What Is Agility?
Agility refers to an organization’s ability to adapt to new industry changes, or make fast decisions when the pressure is on, but it also refers to a systemized, deliberate approach. McKinsey separates companies into four categories, based on their relative speed and stability. “Agile” companies are ones with both high speed and stability. If a company has high speed and low stability, it’s in a volatile startup mode. If it has low speed and high stability, it’s stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare.
For example, suppose a company wants to save money and skip a costly MPLS service, relying on an Internet VPN instead. Setting up new branch locations becomes a tedious and time-consuming process of building tunnels between each location. But by relying on cloud-based SD-WAN services, locations can be added far faster without the tedious tunnel configuration, and with fewer costs. An agile company could tolerate such a structural change in the name of progression, speed, and efficiency.
Why It’s Advantageous
Agile sounds like a good thing, but why is it a good thing?
There are several distinct advantages that agility offers:
- Faster adoption. Decisions get made faster, and organizations can prioritize following through on new integrations. That means systems get into employees’ hands faster, and the benefits of the new tech can start earlier.
- Options and flexibility. Agile approaches also deliberately avoid locking you into one strategy. The goal is to give yourself as many possible options for the future, giving your more overall flexibility. This protects your business against sudden changes, and allows you to grow in any number of different directions.
- Responsiveness. Agility also gives your organization the ability to respond to new changes and variables, rather than sticking with one strategy and hoping it works out. With the right monitoring systems in place, you can quickly identify new threats and opportunities, and adjust your approach to compensate for or include them.
How to Become More Agile
The question then becomes, how can your business become more agile?
The best strategy is to distribute your decision-making power. Top-down hierarchies and complex bureaucracies slow decisions down to a minimum crawl, and they often lean to favor stagnation over change. Restructuring that hierarchy to put more people on the same level, and allowing those individuals to make their own calls will lead to faster, more in-the-moment decisions with less delay time in debates and approvals.
You can also keep your systems as light and flexible as possible; avoid investing too much in any one piece of equipment, one type of software, or one system. The easier your system is to change, update, and upgrade, the faster you’ll be able to adapt to new circumstances.
If you want to start updating your software to be more agile, you’ll need to adopt more cloud-based platforms. SAP offers a suite of different platforms, for everything from supply chain management to human resources, and all of them integrate seamlessly with an agile approach to IT.