According to the 5th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report, 43% of surveyed marketers have adopted practices like daily standups, sprint planning, backlogs, Kanban boards, and more. 

Organizational success requires a deeper understanding of Agile principles and values in both theory and practice. By embracing business agility and managing operations and resources flexibly, businesses can be empowered to quickly respond to changing market conditions and maximize their value.

This article will explore how embracing an Agile mindset can help you increase business agility and remain competitive in today’s market.

 What is Business Agility? 

Business agility is a modern management approach that enables organizations to stay competitive and responsive in today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving market. It focuses on quickly responding to changes and opportunities with innovative and streamlined processes in order to develop, succeed, and prosper. Agile methods were initially developed for use within the field of IT, allowing companies to break larger projects into smaller chunks to ensure faster and more sustainable software delivery.  

Over time, Agile has spread beyond the tech world and become increasingly popular in marketing, sales, finance, and HR departments. The 5th State of Agile Marketing Report found that 33% of sales teams use Agile practices, 20% of finance teams, and 16% of HR teams. This is partly because Agile teams generally prefer to work with other Agile teams.   

Business agility enables organizations to become more efficient, adaptive and focused on value creation. It allows them to experiment, innovate and keep up with rapidly changing customer needs without overextending resources or sacrificing quality. In doing so, companies can remain competitive and relevant in the ever-shifting market. 

How to Have a Successful Business Agility Transformation? 

I. People & organization 

People and organization are the most critical aspect of a successful business agility transformation. Companies must make an effort to hire or promote individuals that possess a digital, data-driven mindset; one who is comfortable with utilizing technology, and technical concepts, as well as creating architectures and driving the transformation process in today’s fast-paced world.  

This type of profile is highly sought after yet difficult to find – making it the main challenge for many organizations. To navigate this hurdle and have a successful transition toward becoming an agile business, here are some tips:  

1. Develop digital talent 

Companies should focus on cultivating digital talent that can help drive their organization’s transformation. This is not just about recruiting young “digital natives,” but rather identifying individuals who possess the skill of leveraging technology towards a goal. It is essential for companies to invest in developing these talents and setting clear plans for them, as this will be critical for the success of the business in the years ahead.  

Therefore, it is essential that organizations identify and develop individuals with digital talents to ensure their ability to remain competitive within their industry. Additionally, companies should focus on identifying talent within all generations, as digital talent does not discriminate based on age or experience level.  

By cultivating digital talent through the development of individuals already employed by the organization, companies can position themselves to remain competitive in a rapidly changing digital landscape. 

2. Create clear roles and responsibilities within the organization: 

It is important that the organization is clear on who is responsible for what. This will help in understanding and creating collaboration between departments, thus increasing agility. The roles should be clearly defined and communicated within the organization, as this will give people an idea of where to go if they need help or have any questions related to a specific issue. Additionally, these roles should be regularly reviewed to ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities and how their actions impact other teams. 

3. Nurture dynamic teams where collaboration is encouraged

Collaboration is key to a successful organization and dynamic teams should be formed within the organization. Teams should feel empowered to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions that can help the organization move forward. This will also ensure that each team member has an opportunity to share their ideas and contribute in a meaningful manner. Additionally, providing feedback on projects or tasks as they occur will help foster collaboration among team members and create an environment of continuous learning and improvement.  

 4. Encourage the open flow of information 

In order for organizations to remain agile, it is important that there is an open flow of information within the organization. This means that everyone should have access to the same information so that everyone shares the same understanding of how things are going. This will help teams to come up with better solutions, collaborate more effectively and make decisions faster.

In a Frost & Sullivan survey, 73% of companies trust that Unified Communications technologies will heighten employee productivity and almost 40% anticipate this technology to catalyze decision-making.
 Additionally, open communication should be encouraged between departments so that everyone can have an accurate view of the current landscape and how their work affects others in the organization.  

[Related: Top 6 Essentials Modern Workplace Technology] 

5. Develop continuous improvement culture 

Investing in training and development programs will help create a culture of continuous improvement within the organization. This will help ensure that everyone is up to date with the latest trends and best practices, which can lead to more effective solutions and better decision-making. Additionally, providing incentives for employees who seek out and implement innovative ideas or processes can also be beneficial in encouraging an agile mindset.  

6. Focus on customer-centricity 

An agile organization should always be focused on customer-centricity. This means that customer feedback should be sought after and acted upon, as this is the best way to improve products or services. Additionally, engaging with customers in a meaningful way can help build trust and loyalty, which will ultimately lead to better customer experiences and higher ROI for the company.  

Here are 4 key tips for customer-centricity

  1. Focus on customer needs: It is important to understand what customers actually need in order to develop products and services that meet their needs.
  2. Create a feedback loop: Having a system in place where customers can provide feedback helps the organization gain insights into areas of improvement while addressing any pain points or issues that customers have.
  3. Use data analytics: By leveraging data analytics, organizations can gain valuable insights into what customers want, how they interact with the product/service, and what areas of improvement may be needed.
  4. Engage customers: Engaging customers through various means such as surveys, focus groups or social media can help create a more personalized experience for the customer and give them a sense that their opinion is valued. 

7. Choose an agile methodology

Whether SCRUM, Kanban, or Lean, selecting an agile methodology that works best for the organization is key to fostering an agile mindset.  

  • SCRUM: With SCRUM, the team has a clear structure, with roles and responsibilities that provide focus on what needs to be done. The process emphasizes short sprints of work, which can help in quickly evaluating progress and adapting as needed.  
  • Kanban: With Kanban, tasks are visualized on boards to create clarity on what is being worked on and what needs to be done. This type of framework is highly collaborative, as all team members are aware of the work being completed and can contribute if needed.  
  • Lean: With Lean, teams strive for continuous improvement by streamlining processes and removing any wasted effort or resources. The focus is on creating a high-quality product with minimal resources, which can help the organization become more agile.  

Business Model & Operations Innovation 

Many times, digital transformation projects focus on making processes and systems more efficient, structured, and controlled. While this is fundamental, it can be a mistake to forget the other side of innovation, which is related to developing new business models. Most successful companies are also known for their new way of doing things (AirBnB). They build businesses that are based upon fundamentally different value propositions and even operations models.  

The key here is to understand how the digital world can enable differently structured or even completely new business offerings & operations; breakthroughs in customer experience by providing better access, better service levels, etc, and taking advantage of emerging opportunities such as data-driven subscription services.  

8. Integrate Digital Talent & Innovation into your organization 

Digital transformation is not only about implementing the right technology, it’s also about evolving into a digital organization. This means that you need to ensure you have the right talent to drive this change and build an innovative culture that fosters growth. The best way to do this is to start by establishing cross-functional teams with a mix of digital, business & operational skills and make sure they are empowered enough to take risks and foster creativity.  

Additionally, it’s important to provide them with access to resources such as accelerators or incubators in order for them to understand what’s happening in the ecosystem around your company and get inspiration from other successful companies within your industry. Finally, provide them with support from senior management who understands digital innovation and is willing to invest in it.  

9. Technology is key 

Automating mundane or repetitive tasks helps reduce costs as well as time spent on these processes. Additionally, technology makes it easier to track KPIs and customer feedback which can be used to adjust operations accordingly. It also helps facilitate collaboration between different departments which further increases agility.

In fact, businesses should look into emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML can help automate complex decision-making processes that would otherwise require a lot of human input. These technologies are becoming increasingly accessible for smaller businesses and have the potential to revolutionize the way companies operate.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to comprehend these technological ideas thoroughly and recognize precisely how they can aid you in attaining your objectives.  

Here are some practical tips to leverage technology for improved business agility: 

  • Have clear objectives 

When considering the development of an application for your business, it is important to have a clear understanding of your objectives. Choosing between on-premise or SaaS solutions depends on the needs and capabilities of the organization, but with the current market maturity level, SaaS solutions are generally most beneficial due to their low total cost of ownership (TCO), faster time-to-revenue, and flexibility.  

  • Don’t fall into the trap 

It is easy to compare obvious license costs and project costs when making decisions regarding an application, but hidden costs such as maintenance and agility should also be taken into consideration to determine which solution would be best in the long run. 

  • Understand Technical Debt 

Every time you create a custom application, you create technical debt. Such debts must be serviced for the life of that application, making it important to minimize features and only focus on those that bring true value. It is also important to understand if specific technologies have demonstrated evolution capabilities as time passes, or if they simply become cash-bleeding operations.  

  • Stay Ahead 

Maintaining a budget for future evolutions of your application is essential, as technical debt can become one of the main reasons why powerful brands and operations will fail. Therefore, it is important to stay ahead of such debts and focus solely on developments that bring differentiation.  

Conclusion  

Gaining a competitive edge in the current business environment is not an easy task. Companies must be proactive in understanding their objectives and leveraging technology to become more agile and improve their operations. Achieving this requires having a deep understanding of the latest technologies and their capabilities, as well as staying abreast of technical debt and focusing on developments that bring differentiation.