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Agile: a low-risk solution for digital transformation

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Business leaders have arguably never been under more pressure to adapt quickly and efficiently, with the need to use technology properly being a requirement rather than a choice.

With economic pressures and the need for organizations to adapt to the digital age, an Agile approach can make digital transformations faster, more efficient and more adaptable.

Already adopted by a number of organizations, including Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, Agile is built on a broad set of principles, including early and continuous delivery, cooperation, and acceptance of change.

By combining digital transformation and Agile to create an Agile digital transformation, companies can get the best of both worlds, benefiting from a system that enables continuous improvement.

An ecosystem that is constantly learning and adapting

“The biggest benefit for businesses is the flexibility it brings,” says Simon Morris, Vice President of Solution Consulting UK&I, ServiceNow. “When it comes to digital transformation, adopting an Agile strategy gives business leaders more choices, with the ability to address challenges more quickly or identify and leverage competitive advantages more effectively.

“Our research shows that agile organizations score higher on nearly every metric compared to non-agile organizations, with customer loyalty up 20% and market share up 11%. Companies that take this approach are more responsive, better organized, and faster to recover — all crucial attributes when it comes to successful digital transformation. »

“I would say that the word transformation implies a clear, finite end, when in reality, a company’s digital journey never ends,” says Helen Nimmo, DSI at Endava. “The key to success in implementing an agile strategy for continuous innovation is not in digital transformation. A more nuanced and tailored approach, which I call “digital acceleration,” provides such agility and empowers leaders to protect their businesses while simultaneously allowing them to innovate with more flexibility and understanding of their stakeholders. internal and external.

“There is always another step forward in the digital journey. Staying nimble and being able to review, update and improve the use of digital technologies as an ongoing, ongoing process is a much more useful way to implement any digital strategy.

Agile approach a low risk solution for digital transformation

While many companies need to change quickly and efficiently, a continuous incremental delivery approach can get features into the hands of product teams and end users faster than a waterfall approach, according to Ben HoughtonCTO at IRIS Software Group.

“This creates a feedback loop that quickly identifies problems or unintended consequences, allowing the approach taken to be adjusted based on in-flight needs,” he adds. “An agile approach provides a low-risk solution because it breaks digital transformation into short, manageable phases where the team learns from its results before moving on. This reduces the number of errors and projects usually end up generating more value in less time.”

To research by IDC has shown that an Agile approach makes digital transformation faster, more efficient and more adaptable,” adds Morris. “For business leaders under pressure to transform quickly in order to remain economically viable in tough economic times, Agile is critical to ensuring digital transformation is effective in the right timeframe.”

Company culture among the main obstacles

Agile transformation is a serious undertaking that requires a lot of effort, which is why many teams struggle with the company’s Agile transformation process. The biggest hurdle organizations face is corporate culture, which can be deeply embedded in the way organizations operate, Morris says.

“Achieving this mindset shift isn’t just about deciding to be Agile,” he adds. “On the contrary, managers must be ready to move from annual leadership cycles with annual budgeting processes to rapid decision cycles. This means that leaders must decide whether to accelerate or stop initiatives within weeks, days or hours.

“Digital acceleration enables more agile delivery compared to digital transformation, without undermining longer-term strategic thinking,” says Nimmo. “That said, with either, there will always be inherent risks that shape technology decision-making. In order to combat those risks, we need to understand what the fundamental business goals are. and technology, as well as their broader context.

“Our recent research found that the top three risk factors most affecting digital adoption over the next five years are remote and hybrid working; changing market environment; and keep pace with growth.

“It shows that companies should continue to develop and improve existing capabilities, rather than overhauling entire systems that could potentially expose them to additional risk.”

Controlled risk crucial for the success of the Agile approach

Part of adopting an Agile approach involves taking risks, so how organizations balance risk versus reward is crucial. With regular, consistent reporting and improved transparency, teams using the Agile methodology are better equipped to deal with issues, but it’s also important not to change for change’s sake.

“If companies are looking to expand into uncharted territory – whether it’s big data platforms, cloud optimization or even the metaverse – the balance between risk and reward comes down to taking and to implement all decisions at the right time, as part of a continuous journey rather than for fun,” says Nimmo.

“When considering a digital acceleration roadmap, businesses need to take a closer look at which solutions deliver the most value. Adopting technologies just because they’re new is counterintuitive, and businesses need to be sure that their projects will add significant value to existing processes.

“Agile management is about controlled risk,” says Morris. “However, most organizations will actually see unexpected large-scale issues decrease as a result.”

Agile doesn’t just throw caution to the wind, adds Houghton. “It’s important to minimize risk as much as possible,” he says. “There’s a lot of planning and designing around a Scrum team so they can make the agile approach a reality. Constant review and iterative remediation is crucial, as it helps keep the delivery tightly aligned with the goal.

In addition to taking controlled risks, good communication is key to the success of an Agile approach. It is important to emphasize the benefits of the Agile approach to team members.

“Communication is at the heart of Agile because it’s a team sport,” Morris concludes. “Leaders need to ensure employees at all levels understand its benefits and why the business is taking the approach.

“Having a clear roadmap is also crucial. Agile companies need to ensure that all departments and teams are united around common goals, whether it’s delivering new products and services, or something else. Each department brings its own specialist skills, but leaders must ensure that each team understands the end goal and supports the Agile approach. »