We hear the term 'business agility' all the time. What does it really mean?
Agility: 1. The power of moving quickly and easily; nimbleness. 2. The ability to think and draw conclusions quickly; intellectual acuity.
The value of moving and drawing conclusions quickly in business can’t be overstated. Ray Stata, the cofounder and chairman of the board of Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) said:
I came to the conclusion long ago that limits to innovation have less to do with technology or creativity than organizational agility. Inspired individuals can only do so much.
And to complete the thought, Steve Jobs said:
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
Agility and innovation
How can any organization afford to sacrifice agility and innovation?
The short answer: it can’t. No business survives by remaining stagnant.
Emerging technologies, new markets, and changing consumer demands require, at the least, that companies find ways to make their business newly relevant and, at most, that they undertake a complete reinvention.
Western Union wouldn’t be the world’s largest money transfer service today if it had been near-sighted about the telegram business.
National Geographic magazine, despite its status as a coffee table staple for generations of Americans, was headed for the same fate as other now-defunct picture magazines like Life and Look. Its parent company, The National Geographic Society, reinvented its brand across all media platforms, including the National Geographic Channel and social networking and photo-sharing sites.
Technology is in a constant state of reinvention. Cloud computing is one of the best examples of this right now. Not so long ago, most businesses deployed their software on-premise. In some industries, they still do. But forward-thinking executives are beginning to understand that the agility afforded by cloud-based solutions is something they must consider.
To look at it another way: what happens if technology isn’t agile? Companies spend time trying to get new applications up and running. The process can be painfully slow, especially where buy-in and training of users is concerned, and rolling out additional functionality starts the whole process over again.
By contrast, cloud applications allow organizations to be agile at their own pace. What if they want to wait to add mobile capabilities? An integrated, streamlined, cloud-based application has that functionality there waiting when they’re ready. Cloud takes the focus off of IT and puts it back where it belongs: on the business.
IT as a service
Instead of worrying about hardware, deployment, and uptime issues that make IT a cost center, executives can turn it into an operational service that is delivered to sales, maintenance, finance, and other departments.
For instance, a cloud-based asset management solution, with its high-performing system utilization, enables companies to focus on predictive instead of reactive maintenance. It is not as hampered by an accumulation of data that may be too impactful for local storage.
The money that an organization spends — on inspections and condition assessments — can keep the equipment running instead of going to more costly and potentially dangerous emergency repairs because a machine has broken down and has stopped production. Knowing what state assets are in and when they will fail allows an organization to replace the asset before a huge problem develops that has more far-reaching consequences.
Putting solutions into the cloud gives organizations the agility they need to move faster, make better decisions, and stay ahead of the curve — and the competition.