Achieving Agility in a Global Workplace
Author(s): John Almasy, Posted on February 24th, 2017
These days, it’s nearly impossible to read a news story or attend an industry conference without hearing the word “agility.” While the idea of moving faster and in a more flexible way is easy enough to understand, putting the concept into play can prove nothing less than daunting. There are numerous IT, business and cultural issues to confront.
What does it take to become a truly Agile organization? How can today’s enterprise successfully build agility, flexibility and scalability into business and IT? And what are the key factors that turbocharge an initiative and help establish a truly successful global workforce?
A starting point for any organization looking to embrace a digital framework is an understanding of the critical elements of Agile – and what it takes for a business to evolve into a real-time enterprise. It involves more than technology and it encompasses more than people. It’s about rewiring the enterprise along with the way people act – and interact.
At the center of everything: cloud computing and mobility. These tools empower workers in ways that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. Yet, clouds and mobility – along with supporting technologies such as the Internet of Things – merely establish a framework for delivery. It’s how an enterprise puts them to work that counts.
In this case, success revolves around three critical areas:
- Strong communication and collaboration tools;
- Speeding up IT and software development cycles; and
- Ensuring that data flows at the speed of digital business.
The communication and collaboration component is essential. For example, the Microsoft Office 365 platform delivers full support for productivity through the cloud and mobile devices. People can work anywhere, any time and on any device – all while sharing data, information and knowledge in an unfettered way. Moreover, Office 365 allows an organization to establish better governance and business rules – along with robust security protections. With this framework in place, it’s possible to achieve better regulatory performance and establish more advanced cyber protections.
The cloud also supports faster IT and development cycles. As organizations look to act and react more quickly to constantly changing business conditions, the ability to update software, apps and other tools – and push out improvements to customers and partners – is vital. These changes now take place in days or weeks rather than months or years. Thus, progress takes place at a steady rate rather than in giant lurches. All of this empowers digital workers. Today, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, including productivity apps such as Office 365, allow users to enjoy new features and capabilities as quickly as they become available. This boosts agility and innovation.
Finally, employers, customers and business partners increasingly require access to data in real time. The cloud supports the fast and free flow of data that feeds analytics and reporting systems. With an Agile framework in place, people have access to data, files and information in real time and can make a best-informed decision on the spot. They can view or act on changes – and even hop on an application, such as Skype for Business, to communicate with a peer and exchange ideas.
Connecting Digital Dots
Of course, migrating from a legacy IT architecture to an Agile and highly flexible cloud framework isn’t without challenges. Simply plugging in cloud services and switching on piecemeal features and capabilities doesn’t necessarily lead to breakthrough performance. In fact, it may introduce an entirely new set of problems – and limit progress. A strategic framework is critical. Integrating systems seamlessly, managing organizational change and training employees to use collaborative tools to maximum advantage is paramount. Things such as communication, scheduling and adapting to a rapid release framework are essential.
Yet, when organizations get things right, the result is a level of innovation and even disruption that redefines a business and an industry. What’s more, it’s easier to attract and retain talent based on the company’s image. For example, it’s no secret that many employees – particularly Millennials – prefer to work with leading-edge tools, devices, solutions and systems. However, most importantly, an Agile and flexible IT and business platform establishes the framework for transforming challenges into opportunities – and impressive bottom-line results.