Building an Agile Enterprise Starts with Culture and Technology

Learn where and how to start on the path to successful enterprise agility and respond rapidly to quickly changing market forces.

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The path to agility often runs directly through the CIO’s office. Responsible for digital projects that grow competitiveness, as well as driving the organization’s transition to enterprise-wide agility, CIOs must adopt change within their departments to meet these objectives.

To achieve these goals, CIOs must facilitate both an agile culture and agile technology automation supported by a digital business technology platform that can adapt to quickly changing market forces.

Agile culture: Culture is one the greatest enablers (or blockers) of agile transformation success. Seventy-six percent of executives in a McKinsey survey said that transforming the culture was their number one challenge during an agile transformation. CIO leadership is critical here in setting the right tone from the top.

Assembling an agile team from across various parts of the business and empowering them to lead is fundamental to creating an agile culture. CIOs should look for individuals who exhibit cooperation, humility, openness, and self-motivation; these workers are most likely to embrace a culture of continuous improvement and teamwork aligned with achieving business goals with a bias toward action. The team should hold frequent reviews with emphasis on measurable outputs that illustrate business value vs. only technical value.

Agile IT Platform: A digital business platform is the key to creating agility, as it actively supports IT’s digitization projects and innovation to address evolving customer needs at the speed of the market. An agile IT platform can increase productivity, product quality, and team cohesion, while also reducing business risk.

As most existing systems aren’t built to support digital business at scale, plan before you build. Start with a quick-win project that delivers business value and illustrates engagement. Prove applicability and success of the project before you move on. Taking incremental, iterative steps — where new technologies are introduced and the team learns how to build, manage, and extend them for future projects — is the recommended approach to building digital business platforms.

The team won’t get everything right the first time, and that’s okay – a culture of learning and continuous improvement should be supported by the technology. The faster the team incorporates feedback, the faster the platform will evolve and the faster it can support new business initiatives.

Automation can fuel a virtuous cycle. Take for example the case of a large hotelier whose initial digital transformation focused on “keep the lights on” activities. As it added automation, team members were freed from manual tasks, giving them time to contribute more directly to the digital business platform. In this way, automation created a snowball effect, growing the resources available for strategic digital business initiatives.

Agile change most often starts with digital transformation, which directly involves the CIO in a company’s successful transition to an agile enterprise. By aligning IT agility with business goals, establishing an agile culture and deploying a digital business platform, CIOs can help their companies effectively navigate the rapidly changing marketplace with unparalleled responsiveness.

Prepare your IT Platform for the Agile Enterprise. Download a CIO’s Guide to the Agile Enterprise.

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