How can agile help organisations build to evolve?

Written by PA Consulting on 24 January 2019 in Sponsored Article
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PA Consulting's Carlo Gagliardi shares insights from new research on organisational agility

It’s a cliché to say we’re in a fast-changing world, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If organisations are to thrive, they must evolve in line with the wider world. But we’ve found 63 per cent of business leaders are concerned their company is better at delivering business as usual than the radical transformation they need.

In our experience, the best way to boost responsiveness is to adopt agile ways of working throughout the organisation. After all, agile is designed to iterate quickly in response to feedback and other factors.

So, it’s hardly surprising that our research into organisational agility found the top 10 per cent of organisations in terms of financial performance are more likely to show agile characteristics. They’re built to evolve and adapt, with flexible systems, data structures and processes, non-linear development cycles, and people who are responsive to change.

So, how can organisations catch up with their most successful competitors?

Bring in flexible technology platforms

With technology so ubiquitous, digital assets now do more to drive revenues, margins and market capitalisation than physical assets. That’s why flexible systems show such a strong correlation to top-tier performance. Almost half (47 per cent) of leading organisations said their systems can respond easily, while only 37 per cent of others did.

Old technology stacks serve specific functions and processes, meaning it’s hard to evolve them in response to changing demands. Modern platforms, on the other hand, are flexible, modular and typically cloud-based, meaning it’s easier to evolve them at pace.

At the same time, the platform market is consolidating, while the market for interoperable modular solutions is fragmenting. This means a modular and layered architecture can offer even more possibilities.

So, don’t simply look to bolt new functionality onto existing monolithic systems, explore how you can move towards a more modular architecture.

Use advanced analytics to shake up development

A modern approach to digital also encourages an agile approach to product and service development. It makes it easier to collect data intelligently, curating it so advanced analytics and artificial intelligence can inform decisions based on less obvious customer trends.

In our research, 44 per cent of top companies told us they’re happy to accept changes at any point in the development cycle, while only 39 per cent of less successful organisations agreed. That means the best financial performers are happy to adjust their ideas to align with their data, adapting to changing customer demands in real-time.

Encourage your people to accept change

Flexible platforms and better use of data can also have a profound effect on your people, helping them be more responsive to change. Of the leading companies in our research, 47 per cent said their people were highly adaptable, while 42 per cent of others said the same. This is crucial to building an organisation that can evolve as even the best approach to digital needs the right people to make changes happen.

Pivoting towards a Total Digital operating model is crucial to organisational agility

Making the switch to this flexible and digitally-driven way of working – what we call Total Digital – takes time, but our research shows the most successful companies have started the journey. Taking things to the next level and really building the organisation to evolve will mean rebuilding monolithic legacy architectures and pivoting towards more flexible alternatives.

About the author

Carlo Gagliardi is digital expert at PA Consulting

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