Every few years, a word or phrase becomes so commonly used in the language of business that it loses its effect. I remember when “strategic” meant something very specific about competitive advantage. “Quality” and “customer-centric” were rally points for corporate culture. “Innovation” (after a round of “ideation” of course) would almost guarantee a slice of the investment pie. Even “differentiation” meant significant separation from the pack.
I worry that these days, “agility” might be getting to that same place.
The word itself is defined most often as being quick or nimble in motion. In the animal kingdom that can spell the difference between getting lunch or being lunch. Clearly in that context, being agile is not just being quick. It is being quick in any particular direction at any point in time as threats or opportunities appear. From a tactical viewpoint it might be what enables a critter to live another day. From a strategic viewpoint, it might be what enables an entire species to survive.
This sounds a lot like business, and what business people consistently describe as a need they have; the ability to quickly move in any direction at any time as the challenges and opportunities present themselves. Information is their lifeblood with dashboards and reports as their guideposts. Business agility, process agility, and even agility of a company to morph its business model are what allow it or its species to survive. Examples are everywhere; disruption of the airlines industry model, Blockbuster versus Netflix, and online versus offline retail to name a few.
We ran a survey at the most recent TDWI World Conference to gauge how well data professionals felt they were enabling agility for the business. There were some interesting data points, not the least of which was that the vast majority felt that the business changed its requirements too frequently for IT to keep pace. Frequently changing requirements? Sounds like a need for agility.
Are you delivering?
Let us know by answering our polling question on Kalido’s home page. www.kalido.com