On Business Agility

Last week I was part of an excellent team that conducted the panel discussion at TMForum Live! 2014 in Nice, on a topic of Enterprise Architecture helping to improve business agility. I shall try to provide a quick summary of presented and discussed topics.




There are a lot of definitions of the subject; let’s use the one from Wikipedia: “Business agility is the ability of a business to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently in response to changes in the business environment.”


Dimensions of Business Agility

There are number of ways to look at business agility; during our discussion we used this one:

  1. Market. In this category, two agility sub-types refer to customer, channel, and marketing areas
  2. Organization. In this category three agility sub-types refer to information sharing and approach to organizational changes
  3. Process. In this category, five agility sub-types refer to core processes within your organization.

There are, however, alternative dissections, like this one:

  1. Strategic agility
  2. Portfolio agility
  3. Operational agility

… or from maturity perspective:

  1. Efficiency.
  2. Ability to respond to a change.
  3. Ability to antitipate a change.
  4. Ability to disrupt the environment.


Relation of agility type to your business

Depending on on a way your company makes money & grows, some agility types will be more important to you than the others.

  • Company type A would focus on Agility to rapidly implement performance improvement initiatives – thanks to high maturity of business process management & optimization capabilities.
  • Company type B would focus on Agility to rapidly innovate and fast commercialization – thanks to high maturity of R&D and product lifecycle management capabilities.
  • Company type C would focus on Rapid product portfolio development & rapid partnerships establishment – thanks to unified product lifecycle and supplier / partner management capabilities.

Do you know which type is yours?


Time to look outside?

Agility lies a lot in a cooperation with outside partners and not in the attempts to do everything “quickly” yourself. Do not pretend that you live on an island. Besides, our entanglement with legacy systems might be so big that “gradual migration” would cost enormous time and money; it might be necessary to approach it as yet another Y2K, and execute as a set of “big bangs”.


Which EA framework to choose?

Very often a combination of several architectures can be used to grow the company’s maturity and agility, for example:

  • Capability / Methodology frameworks like TOGAF
  • Reference architecture frameworks like eTOM, SID, BIAN.
  • and old good ITIL too.

As Hugo Vaughan, Chief Frameworx Architect at TMForum said during the workshop, “these are different animals and add to each other rather than compete”.


Learning process

In many ways, faster innovation is not about frantic actions but about learning faster. Here comes the Lean Startup approach with its mental shift from traditional “build, measure, learn” sequence to a reverse one.

Most organizational efforts are spent to improve efficiency and not agility. What we often get as a result is a well oiled machine able to make no turns.


Everlasting focus

Remember the stats: it says that nearly 75% of failed organizational changes mention the “lack of the necessary support among employees” as reason #1. Knowledge dissemination is one of the key agility factors.


As a side note, if you are interested in a quick, independent view at your company’s enterprise architecture, there is an international team of recognized enterprise architects that can get that done. Contact me for more information.

Alex Mavrin, Founder at Apteriks

Visit https://www.apteriks.com and use FREE ONLINE tools for network professionals.


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