4 ‘Techy’ Steps to Accelerating Enterprise Agility – Part I

IT has earned its ‘seat at the table’, and now has an actual C-level executive, in the person of the CIO. In most forward-looking organizations, the CIO has as much influence as other senior executives, and a matching office on the coveted topmost floor, instead of downstairs beside the data center…

With this positive turn of events, the IT organization still faces a challenge within most corporations, which threatens its ability to keep its elevated status: it is too slow.

Organizations worldwide are experiencing increasing uncertainty in their respective business environments. Since traditional management practices were designed based on the industrial-age assumption of certainty, many companies are no longer able to effectively deploy these practices and stay competitive in the global economy. Rather, organizations now need a fairly high level of speed and flexibility to be able to effectively exploit marketplace opportunities and changes. This means that for today’s organizations to stay in business, they have to become agile. The agile enterprise is not easily damaged and broken by unexpected and unpredicted changes and events. Instead, it can rapidly adapt to tomorrow’s surprises. Agile enterprises:

  • Collaborate with business stakeholders
  • Deliver value early and often
  • Respond rapidly to change, and
  • Ensure quality results

The role of the IT organization cannot be overemphasized in this push for increased enterprise agility. As technology has permeated virtually all business functions, and information has become the glue that holds sprawling global entities together, the IT organization finds itself in a unique position. For literally every new strategic initiative, all eyes in the boardroom turn to the CIO for the answer to the question: ‘how soon can we get this done?’. Why is this so?

IT faces this problem for two major reasons:

  1. Internal customers now expect more from IT because the technology consumerization phenomenon has enabled them to realize that technology services can be fast, flexible, reliable and in some cases ‘free’. For example, many executives can pull up information about their company from Google faster than they can from internal search resources.
  2. The enterprise architectures and software development methodologies at most organizations are not agile enough. Therefore, any attempt to extend these information systems to enable the cross-functional business processes – that support today’s business initiatives – usually leads to a significant waste of time and resources. This is as a result of the highly inflexible and sluggish development methodologies employed to connect disparate systems through point-to-point interfaces: an endeavor that would be unnecessary in an agile IT environment.

In the next part of this article, we will look at how IT organizations can respond to the challenge of accelerating enterprise agility through 4 ‘techy’ steps. Stay tuned. 🙂

Image by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seandreilinger/

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