The speed of change in modern business is accelerating.
New technologies, globalization, regulatory changes and competitors entering and leaving the market are just a few examples of the types of environmental forces that bombard companies every day.
Developing a sustainable, competitive advantage requires company leaders to identify and respond to opportunities and threats quickly, directing both strategic and operational course corrections. Management and employees must then be able to respond to leaders’ directions and implement changes quickly and effectively to capture opportunities before they are gone.
This is the essence of business agility.
Imagine trying to drive a car while only being able to see from the rear-view mirror. You wouldn’t be able to anticipate what is ahead of you, or what direction or how fast you are going. You wouldn’t know that course corrections are required until it is too late. If you are somehow able to avoid running off the road or hitting something, then you still aren’t likely to arrive at your destination very quickly.
Managing a modern business is very similar. Historical reports and batch data from last night or last week don’t provide leaders with the information and actionable insights they need to lead the company effectively – they need real-time data (and plenty of it!)
What it means to be agile
Business agility is all about being able to identify opportunities and threats effectively in the environment (both internally and externally), determine an appropriate response and implement change quickly.
The optimal window of opportunity to achieve maximum benefit in some companies may be a few weeks or a few days – in other cases, companies may only have a few minutes or hours to assess a situation and execute a change.
Take for example a manufacturing company – commodity prices, government regulations, supply-chain issues and shifting customer demands all impact the price and quantity of products that are produced. A change to any of these factors could require an increase or decrease to production, change of suppliers, pricing changes or impact future sales forecasts.
Agility requires real-time data
It is easy to recognize that company leaders need access to real-time data for strategic decision-making, but they aren’t the only ones. Agility requires employees at all levels of an organization to use real-time data to make decisions about areas under their control.
Customer-service employees need real-time data about customer orders, known issues and current promotions to provide accurate guidance to customers. Operations managers need real-time data about business processes, systems health, transactional workflows, staff productivity, cost and quality to fine-tune operations for efficiency and profitability and to identify potential issues. The finance staff needs real-time data about revenue, expenses, investments and asset utilization to direct company resources effectively. IT teams need real-time data about system status, outages, performance issues, capacity utilization and security threats to provide service assurance and prevent business disruption.
Armed with real-time data about operations and forces in the external environment (including leadership-direction changes), employees can quickly respond to potential opportunities and threats and implement changes safely and effectively. Without real-time data (many companies still rely on nightly data refreshes to a data warehouse), employees find themselves making decisions based on old/incorrect information, waiting for data to refresh (slowing things down), or guessing.
None of these provides the agility that modern businesses need.
Business agility isn’t a nice-to-have, it is an imperative for modern companies. Sustainable, competitive advantage requires everyone in your organization to have complete, accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions and execute change with confidence. Vector from Actian provides tools for companies to unlock real-time data and make it available to employees throughout the organization. To learn more, visit www.actian.com.