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February 11, 2019 Michael Pascoe

Planning your IT strategy for 2019? Here’s why (and how) to make it agile.

If you’re looking to grow, expand or thrive in 2019, agility is no longer just an optional strategy for your business.  

Agility is the name of the game. 

A report by Forbes Insights and the Project Management Institute (PMI), which surveyed senior executives from global organisations, noted that agility done right does have a positive impact on the bottom-line. Of the respondents, 41% said their profits and/or revenue have improved, 47% said agility helped them deliver better customer service and 31% increased their revenue by 20% or more.  

The fact of the matter is there is no one way to go about transforming your business into an agile organisation. But, regardless of the nature or size of your business, there are two crucial steps you need to take to begin your much-needed and perhaps long-overdue transformation: revamp your IT architecture and create an agile workforce

When driven purposefully, the result of a more agile team and IT architecture is true organisational agility, wherein you can discover more efficient and rewarding ways of working, unorthodox business models and even new business streams.  

Revamping your IT architecture 

Getting your cloud services subscription is just the first step, and it’s a major one. But there’s more to an agile IT architecture than just shifting your data to cloud.  

Your next step should be to outsource non-core and non-differentiated services like e-mail to subscription services like Office 365. It can help boost productivity by allowing seamless coordination among teammates, from anywhere as long as there is internet, and by reducing the need for manual updates by the IT staff. Outsourcing services can also help you pivot quickly and adapt to changes.  

For instance: You need an app that works on Windows 10. But you are on Windows 7 because you’re currently using an app that keeps you there. A solution? Use a cloud service like Amazon WorkSpace to quickly run the app and just pay monthly or hourly—a more cost-efficient solution compared to traditional desktops and on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure solutions.  

Another key step would be to move to a micro-services model from a monolithic framework, and then build a library of micro-service applications. A micro-service model has numerous benefits, especially suited for organisations that want to be agile. 

It allows you to do A and B testing and save time through the re-use of catalogued services. You can deploy individually and isolate faults so that even if one service of the application does not work, the system will still function.  

Micro-services also allow you to scale as needed and use different languages and technologies to build different services of one application. This encourages faster turnaround time for changes, updates and innovations. Make sure your applications can be run as SaaS and have APIs (Application Programming Interface) for customisation.  

APIs help accelerate market deployment help accelerate market because each micro-service is created around a business function, which means it can be changed, tested and deployed independently.  

It also enables your business to improve user base acquisition and create better customer experiences. For example, you can use an API to create chat bots that automatically respond to queries and requests, making it easier for your customers to transact business. This level of responsiveness can help you attract new customers. An API also allows you to control user experience through the way customers interact with data and branding, thus helping you maintain your current user base.  

Ask yourself: What applications would an agile start-up use? 

This can give you an idea of how to choose applications and platforms for your business. There are many options available out there – the challenge is to choose which one suits your business’ unique needs.  

Creating an agile workforce 

According to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, an ideal work team is one that can be “fed with two pizzas.” Otherwise, the team is too big and consequently, productivity will be affected.  

So, what should you do? 

First off, practice what you preach. Organisational agility is an easy enough concept to grasp but the actual change will happen if it is practiced properly and consistently. Training your team to learn the tools, platforms and skills is just the first step. It does not guarantee an instant paradigm shift or a seamless and unanimous transition. Identify one or two aspects of agility that you can apply to your team so they can work on establishing familiarity in a collaborative environment.  

You can start by providing access to less standardised digital tools and platforms that give employees more leeway in terms of accomplishing a task. Cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms like Slack allow team members to collaborate remotely, exchange messages and files, and keep tabs on a project’s progress. This kind of set-up empowers teams, and consequently your business, to become flexible and scalable.  

You can also reassess your office’s layout. Consider break out spaces for smaller work teams so it’s easier to get together and collaborate (instead of waiting for the conference room to become available). An open office layout has its pros and cons but one advantage is that it promotes easier and more frequent communication as well as transparency. 

Making your team “feel smaller” by breaking down the literal and figurative walls in the office can help build rapport among employees. After all, a positive work culture encourages employees to perform at their best, which drives the company’s performance.  

Keep in mind: When it comes to work teams, bigger is not always better. On the contrary, smaller, flatter and self-organising teams can be the key to generating the results that matter.  

Final tip: Do it now

Agility does not happen overnight. Aside from establishing the IT foundation, you need to cultivate a culture that will empower and inspire your team to work outside the proverbial box.  

Embracing agility, whether as a start-up or a traditional business, requires the will and the vision to transform. It also requires a partner who has the experience and the expertise to deliver the end-to-end solutions that you need. Don’t be left behind. Make 2019 your year of agile transformation. Get in touch with us and let’s make it happen.  
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If you’d like more information then register for the upcoming Olikka event,  Moving to Agile: 10 Steps to Azure Cloud – click here