2 Critical Factors in Achieving Agility: Culture and Technology

Agility is crucial for IT to keep pace with the business. To get there, CIOs should focus on two key building blocks.

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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 and help the business become an agile enterprise.

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 their culture was the 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 an agile culture. CIOs should look for individuals who exhibit cooperation, humility, openness, and self-motivation — as they 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 given to measurable outputs that illustrate business value vs only technical value. 

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

As most existing systems aren’t built to support digital business at scale, plan before you build. Start with a project that can be a quick win to deliver business value and illustrate engagement. Prove applicability and success of the project and only then move on. 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 OK, because 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 G6 Hospitality whose initial digital transformation phases 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 helped create 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.

Get started building agility and download the CIO's Guide to Preparing your IT Platform for the Agile Enterprise.






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