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We all read the headlines – the rate of change and innovation is growing at an exponential rate. New technologies launch, it seems, daily, while growth rates for existing technologies like mobile and social double in growth every year. With this type of environment, companies can no longer rely on the old command and control management styles and monolithic, proprietary tech stacks.
What should you do to make your company more agile in this type of fast-paced environment? It boils down to a shift in technology investments, mindsets, and operations.
A few years back, Clayton Christensen developed the theory of Disruptive Innovation. Essentially, it was the idea that companies and ecosystems disrupted by new tech and business models could not compete with incremental changes. Dr. Christensen argued that businesses should build a parallel operation from scratch to take advantage of these disruptive technologies, and then slowly implement best practices and mindsets into the traditional business.
Bi-Modal IT takes a few lessons from the disruptive innovation concept, in that two groups are present within the IT department. One group’s job is to keep the lights on and make incremental improvements, while the other group’s job is to deliver new solutions quickly. Using this approach allows businesses to service its current customers, while being adaptive to new developments in the market, like cloud computing, mobile, social, and soon to be bots, virtual reality, and AI.
The group responsible for delivering new solutions at the speed of light will need a new approach: Agile.
Agile is an operational framework that focuses on prioritization and focused sprints in 3-4 week periods. Typically, there is one scrum master (project manager) and no more than 8-10 team members as part of a sprint.
The idea is that the agile team focuses on a set number of outputs in the sprint period, and no other priorities receive attention until the next sprint. This approach increases focus and delivery to the market for feedback. Once the market provides enough statistically significant feedback (both quantitative and qualitative), your team priorities features and tests for the new sprint.
Agile is how most startups operate to get product-market fit in the fastest timeframe possible. Your company should have a team with the same framework and mindset.
Decentralization of Technology
In the new digital economy, disruptions reach every line of business, limiting speed and efficiency. Therefore, a new IT strategy needs to take place in order to speed up agility across the business.
First, it starts with training and mindset shifts. Every employee needs to be collaborative, mobile first, and understand how to solicit information from the vast networks of data within the enterprise. Best in class companies deploy community management strategies, allowing employees to communicate with each other on a digital platform and in-person events. Each team should get access to personalized, role-based training, delivered both digitally and in-person.
Second, the agile part of the bi-modal IT organization should align to every line of business. For example, one group aligns to marketing, while another group aligns to finance. Next marketing and finance sprints will occur every 2-4 weeks, delivering new solutions at breakneck speeds.
If your company wants agility, you need to give your workers flexibility in how they get work done. Not only does it improve employee efficiency, you retain top talent in different geographies.
So what enables remote work? The cloud is certainly the overlay to everything, so understand if you’re in the market for public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid. If you have corporate laptops, then you’ll need to connect them to your Unified Communications network. You do have a unified communications network, right?
Once your cloud and unified communications are in a place, build, buy, or rent a mobile device management platform for phones, tablets, and wearables (for corporate devices and BYOD).
Lastly, if you really want to unleash the power of remote work, invest in an enterprise social network. Enterprise social networks allow document storage and sharing, task assignments, conversation threads, blogging, videos, and decision-making tools. The efficiency and time to market for your business will skyrocket as a result.
Businesses cannot afford to do the same old thing and expect their strategies to hold up over time. Constantly look for better ways to create, operate, and scale your business through agile mindsets, decentralized technologies, remote work, and bi-modal IT.
What other strategies or tactics would you recommend to help companies increase their agility?
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.
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