Agility is a characteristic which many businesses aim for, but few achieve.
As organisations grow, the idea of flexibility becomes irreconcilable - leaders aim to establish a solid foundation, seeming to stifle the possibility of quick thinking and fast development.
Digital agility can easily fall into the same trap. With legacy systems underpinning day to day workflows, new technology might offer exciting opportunities but the practicality of coordinating or integrating these systems can create barriers which become insurmountable.
Does Digital Agility Matter Anyway?
Digital agility is essential – companies don’t survive without it.
Customers no longer want restricted opening hours, parking considerations and queues at the till. They want to pre-order, get answers online before buying, to have delivery options which match their lifestyle and multi-channel communication. When your customers have technology at their fingertips – you need to be prepared to use it.
So, how will organisations benefit from technological developments?
While it might seem that agility must come easier to small businesses, larger and more established organisations have the benefit of information. Analysing and understanding the needs of their customers – and employees – is a huge benefit only now possible through the technology we have available.
Improving processes with better use of technology, will also increase productivity and reduce costs; there are many benefits of technological advance, of which these are just a handful.
But what about your people?
The workforce is changing – and that’s not just because of millennials.
There’s been a lot of consideration given to how younger people coming into the workplace will make new demands – but they’re not the only ones. Having gained experience and respect within organisations, established workers with caring responsibilities are now often requesting more flexibility of hours and location.
Because, making the most of technological advances – recognising the opportunities they offer and developing those solutions – is something which organisations should be demanding for their own business growth. In return for this, businesses are expected to utilise these advances for the benefit of their staff.
Organisations have always recognised those skills which are valuable in their people and sought them out. So businesses are now looking for ‘digitally competent’ individuals (as labelled in this article Recruit and Develop Digital Talent by cut-e.com), these are recognisable as having ‘willingness to learn, openness to change and adapting to new situations’.
In fact, technology even has a role to play in recognising, attracting and onboarding these new workers – and those responsible for system development should be working closely with HR to develop processes which work better for everyone (I looked at this in my previous piece All Aboard! How HR & IT Collaboration can Improve Business Efficiency, Security and the User Experience).
Building on legacy
So, organisations need to be forward looking and flexible – but how is that possible when legacy systems seem to provide such a heavy anchor?
The fact is, it is possible – when the right priorities and actions are identified and developed. For businesses in this situation, there are a series of steps which need to guide any such development.
Ensure a clear understanding of the current digital workspace and how it is used in reality, by working with those who understand it.
Work to introduce the user-centric digital workspace concept to participants, highlighting benefits across the board.
Understand how technology is currently used and consider appropriate areas for development.
Study individual users, identifying key technologies and processes - this is an ideal opportunity to identify redundant technologies for financial savings and process streamlining.
Thorough analysis will highlight recommendations aligned to business and technology needs, enhancing user engagement, collaboration and improving operational efficiencies.
Only once a clear picture of the as-is picture is made, can future development be designed.
Future development can certainly be built over established systems which may seem a million miles from the cloud-based technologies of your future. But, only by following the steps here will you ensure you’ve considered the big picture – the aims of the business going forward - as well any short-term interests and quick wins.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. I am an innovation strategist that connects customer, employee and brand experiences. My passion lies in building ecosystems to solve business problems by combining creativity and technology.