I recently discussed the role of innovation in helping to differentiate and spur growth. And in my mind, an area of innovation that truly has game-changing impact is agility. Like the word “innovation,” agility is too often used as a buzzword, so what is agility and why is it important?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines agile as “able to move quickly and easily.” In a business context, agility is the ability for companies to stay close to customers and understand their changing needs, outmaneuver competitors, shift business strategies to respond to market demand and generate results faster. And often times, the larger your company, the harder it is to stay agile.
Even after four years since the start of the Great Recession, companies still hold a ‘do more with less’ mindset. This has put more emphasis on agility as organizations attempt to stay competitive with fewer resources. And technological advances have enabled new levels of agility that bring many benefits including cost, performance and revenue growth. One great example of agility is our customer, Aidmatrix.
Aidmatrix is in the humanitarian aid business – connecting those who have with those who need. More than 40,000 business, nonprofit and government partners use Aidmatrix’s supply chain management capabilities to mobilize more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian relief each year. During and immediately following a crisis, demand can reach up to 1,000 times the normal rate. When disaster would strike, Aidmatrix had to set up and tear down physical infrastructures at local data centers in the area of need. This slowed responsiveness and was costly. We helped them migrate to Windows Azure, and now, they can set up operations in a country at a fraction of the time with much lower costs.
Another example is our own Avanade business. As I noted in my post on Chris Miller, Avanade CIO, we have implemented an initiative to virtualize 90 percent of Avanade’s application services and reduced physical server inventory by 70 percent in the process. This gives us greater flexibility at significantly lower costs.
It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. And it’s clear that business realities amidst economic turbulence have created a very real need to improve organizational performance by increasing business agility.
What do you think?