Agility, however you want to define it, should help to speed up iteration and therefore increase profit and customer satisfaction.

The working methods agility predicates may also help to increase staff satisfaction.

It can be argued that agility is achieved through innovation:  setting aside some time to focus on ideas that may not be central to the core business. At the moment, I’d argue innovation isn’t particularly widespread, as many organisations’ attitude towards it is ’70:20:that’s not what we pay you for’.

Indeed, the double whammy of the recession and many governments’ subsequent focus on ‘the need for efficiency savings’ has set a tone that makes innovation even riskier.

The fact is though, fortune favours the brave, and in times of economic hardship (darn it, I’ve slipped into bureaucratese), those that spend money adapting to a surfeit of new and relevant technologies may well see success.

But what about all those non-innovating, anti-Eric-Schmidt business leaders? They must be struggling with something. They aren’t wilfully blind. Perhaps legacy technology and the difficulty of extricating an organisation from its knotted innards is what’s holding some business leaders back.

Ahead of our first Digital Transformation Leaders’ Conference, I wanted to mull over technology.

Econsultancy’s recent research into agility and innovation (Digital Transformation: Agility and Innovation Best Practice Guide) is based on interviews with senior digital and non-digital marketers, academics and practitioners across different sectors and markets.

The research indeed highlights legacy technologies, alongside company silos, as the most notable barriers to greater organisational agility and change.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value, too, has conducted research, recently publishing ‘The Customer-activated Enterprise – Insights from the Global C-suite Study’.

It echoes Econsultancy’s findings:

The most common barrier to agility and change mentioned by interviewees was legacy technology and systems. This is consistent with previous research conducted by Econsultancy into organisational resourcing, indicating that this continues to be a major headache for those attempting to drive rapid change.

The IBM report also states that ‘CEOs consider technology the single most important external force shaping their organisations’.

 

The sectors where this is most evident are perhaps banking and travel, where the customer often feels like they are bearing the brunt of tech trouble, caused by companies’ unwillingness to re-platform. 

Thankfully, it seems that tech is firmly on the agenda. CIOs, for example, are anticipating the role of tech in setting strategy to become IT’s number one function over the coming years.

 

The vast majority of CIOs are also intent on investing in many areas of tech, with mobile technology at the top of the pile.

 

Despite the obvious need to improve say, outdated CRM systems, a website with poor UX, your marketing automation strategy or your poorly optimised mobile ecommerce presence, there is still the need to be circumspect.

Determining just what it is that could engender change in your business is not something worth rushing. 

The Econsultancy Agility and Innovation Best Practice Guide points out the danger of ‘digital magpie syndrome’. 

Businesses need to be wary of pursuing new digital technologies without realising the value of digital transformation through changed behaviours and management practices and a unified, transformative vision.

Basically, if you’re not managing your staff as well you could, even a new and slick tech platform may not improve the atmosphere significantly enough to demonstrate results.

Remember that any change to tech is inevitably met with the challenge of educating the workforce, too – during transition, people management and leadership skills will come to the fore.

This mirrors the focus on people, process and technology that Econsultancy has acknowledged and defined in much of its research. 

Check out our Digital Transformation page to see further resources.