The COVID-19 pandemic thrust us into a world of chaos compelling us to think differently. It also helped us understand that digital agility is essential for businesses to not only keep the lights on but also think on the front foot capably.
Think of digital agility in terms of Lego blocks. When building with Lego, you can easily make small and incremental changes to your design. The same concept extends to digital agility. This flexibility brought about by digital technologies helps you make changes to the design without investing too much money, manpower, or costs.
Defining Digital Agility
Digital agility describes the ease with which organizations can change, update, upgrade and adapt to changing situations and disruptions. It is a kind of business agility that encompasses the process and tools infrastructure to support organizations, teams, and individual employees to make sound decisions and enable change proactively. This becomes an essential capacity since we are now in an age when work needs to be flexible, and systems and processes need to be agile and adaptable to accommodate change.
If we look closely, digital transformation becomes an enabler of digital agility. In fact, organizations across the globe have accelerated their digital transformation initiatives to become more resilient in the face of disruption, cope with the forces of change, and accommodate the business shifts that dynamic markets and evolving customer needs demand.
Research shows that IT spending is expected to hit 3.9 trillion this year to drive digital transformation across industries. 52% of organizations state that they will increase their spending on digital transformation initiatives.
The Relationship Between Digital Transformation and Digital Agility
However, the objective of digital transformation is not to just randomly add technologies to the organizational IT portfolio. It is to employ digital technologies to drive efficiencies, eliminate wastage, and optimize operations.
Digital transformation has the potential to streamline and integrate business processes to increase business performance and transform the customer experience. It increases agility and innovation capacities, streamlines operations, and reduces compliance effort. Digital transformation, simply put, adds to our digital agility. But digital agility only increases when organizations become more proactive and certain of their decisions. This certainty can only be achieved when the organization becomes a data-driven organization.
Real digital transformation and digital agility can be achieved when all decisions are based on data. For this to happen, organizations need to identify ways to democratize data and develop a tools ecosystem that enables every individual to base decisions on data.
Digital transformation and digital agility are about developing the capabilities to get answers to alleviate challenges and get solutions using data.
The role of data becomes ever more important with rising competition and a market that is becoming ever so complex. With digital transformation, organizations want to build their capabilities that add competitiveness and accelerated abilities to deliver innovative products and services.
It is only when an organization becomes data-driven and develops the capacity to use data to enable everyday decision-making that it experiences the true agility that digital technologies bring.
Adding digital agility by empowering the workforce to become more data-driven also becomes essential to drive elevated customer experiences. From HR to product development, to facilities management to operations, finance to marketing, there is no part of the organization that remains isolated from driving customer experiences – the only difference is that sometimes the customer is external (i.e., the clients) and sometimes the customer is internal (i.e., the employees).
By employing data and enabling employees to use and base decisions on data helps in proactive management of challenges and opportunities. For the C-suite increasing their digital agility becomes especially important to battle the several ‘unknowns’. Using the insights generated from data, CXO’s can move completely away from guesswork and indulge in fact-based decision making, identify opportunities to optimize value to create a deep business impact, develop compelling products and establish a data culture.
For digital agility, organizations need to develop the capability to use the power of data at their disposal. To achieve this, they need to harness data from all relevant sources be it social media, databases, survey materials, email marketing, advertising, websites, and more, and collate, transform, and transfer the data for robust analysis. Taking care of data cleansing and applying the right data sets to drive actionable insights and developing the capacity to enable large-scale data processing are essential skills to develop organizational agility and resilience.
Finally, it is essential to hand the power of data to the employees as business intelligence and actionable insights. Organizations must enable the workforce and business users by giving them access to scalable systems that connect any data of any size and provide them with insights that help make business decisions faster and with more certainty. With predictive insights generated from data, users can improve their business planning and make strategic shifts to ensure relevance, competitiveness, and business continuity.
To sum it up, an enterprises’ digital agility quotient is directly proportional to its ability to leverage data in its decision-making process. Once organizations develop their capacity to base their decisions on data and ensure that they have created a data-driven culture, digital agility is bound to increase as does organizational resilience. Because with data comes clarity. And with clarity comes power.