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By 12 February 2018 | Categories: Misc

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By Biase De Gregorio, partner and Agile lead at IQbusiness

The fast-paced modern world is driven by technology, and as customers become more tech savvy, so too must organisations. But some are oblivious to the shifting landscape, or simply not interested in embracing it. It’s a risk either way, as being competitive means staying current, and resisting change could mean the beginning of the end for your company. If you are a business owner, you may be wondering how to start. Well, in 2018 the process begins with agility.

Unpacking Agility

The term “Business Agility” describes the ability to adapt to changes in order to provide a competitive advantage. Historically, Agile has been seen as a set of values, principles, and frameworks, driven by software adoption and development. However, organisations are starting to understand that these values and principles can be used outside of the IT sector, and throughout the value chain. 

In fact, agile practices are applicable across a broad spectrum – not just in IT departments or tech industries, as is traditionally thought. These values and principles can be utilised in the likes of marketing and even HR divisions for example, to solve problems faster, boost team morale, and provide other competitive advantages that improve the business as a whole.

With business agility in place, organisations are equipped to move as fast (or as slow) as the market does. They become scalable, and technology opens the door for ground-breaking innovations that can be realised in months, rather than over a period of years. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are leading the way when it comes to agility, and remain the strongest advocates for this way of thinking. Given that they are typically younger, resourced for flexibility, and geared towards innovation, it is easy to understand why business leaders in this sector outmanoeuvre bigger competitors. It’s simply because they can move faster, and change comes more effortlessly to them.

This isn’t to say that larger corporations aren’t interested in adopting agile. It’s just that it’s a more challenging undertaking for them, as they face the prospect of having to shake up their existing processes and structures, which isn’t always easy to pull off when there are lots of different working parts, and a large number of teams and employees to consider. As a result, established corporations are being pressured to consolidate and downscale if they hope to meet customer’s expectations with a new age of products and services. 

The Benefits

According to the inaugural Agile Report from IQbusiness, the key driver for agility is business relevance, with 72% of people surveyed holding the belief that agile software development will result in faster product delivery. The same respondents felt that the ability to adapt to change (agility, essentially) is the best benefit they have realised. This proves that agility is imperative for any organisation looking to compete, especially in a rapidly changing market place like South Africa. 

Further benefits of agility include:

· Increased productivity

· Remaining competitive

· Improve business and IT alignment

· Enhancing product quality

· Improved visibility

· Reduced risk

· Using limited resources more strategically

Overall, the implementation of agile practices are nearing maturity within the IT realm, and they’re starting to rise in other departments and industries too. However, there still remains a substantial number of large organisations who are unable (or unwilling) to embrace the inevitable change that comes from business agility.

As industry competitors continue to apply agility, those who fail to evolve will fall by the wayside, clearing a path for innovative companies that will thrive in this new and exciting digital age.

The Future is Agile

Leveraging the transformative impact of agility beyond a functional IT focus is the most likely path this approach will follow. Agility will soon filter through other departments and encompass all areas of an organisation in a holistic manner. The result will be a fundamental change to the company’s culture, and even the very industry in which it operates.

In a world defined by technology, reimagining change as an essential component of growth is key to staying relevant. Predicting, inspecting, and being able to adapt should be the primary focus of all modern organisations, regardless of their size. It is through flexibility that your organisation can achieve growth, create business value and drive agility, in 2018 and beyond.

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