If you read the articles on this blog, you’ll see “business agility” mentioned many times. That the cloud increases business agility is a claim underlying much of what is written on the web about the cloud. But what exactly is business agility and how does the cloud help businesses cultivate agility?
Business agility is simply the ability of a business to adapt efficiently and effectively to changing business environments and market conditions. Those changes take many forms: evolving competitive landscapes, changing customer needs and expectations, logistical developments, altered manufacturing and production requirements, and rapidly iterating technology, among many others.
If a business’s processes and products remain stagnant while the world around them changes, they will lose market share and eventually become obsolete. No one wants to be the next Kodak. So there’s no denying that businesses have to change to remain relevant and competitive, but how does the cloud help businesses achieve the necessary agility?
Data has never been more important to business than it is today. Data has always been important, but the digital revolution and the Internet have made data, its processing and analysis, and access to the information that it contains more crucial than ever. Ever more data is available to businesses from logistics, customer relationship management platforms, sentiment analysis, business intelligence, various analytics and numerous other sources.
Cultivating business agility in the modern world is the cultivation of the ability to react efficiently to insights provided by data. Which requires data gathering, storage, processing, and collaboration in real time. It requires the ability to react to data’s insights to develop products and applications with minimal lead-times; it requires the ability to scale infrastructure quickly, and most importantly, it requires that businesses can access infrastructure without massive capital investment, because that investment is often an albatross that proves inimical to agility, for economic, political, and technological reasons.
Legacy IT and its infrastructure and software are simply not up to the task. They were created for a different time.
The cloud is the platform that businesses need to cultivate agility. Because the cloud is elastic, requires no major capital investment for infrastructure deployments, and is globally available, businesses are freed from the strictures imposed by previous deployment models. It provides the tools that businesses need to exploit ever increasing data volumes, create applications that enable employees and customers to interface with that data, and it allows businesses to be playful and experimental as they seek solutions to the problems the market presents.
For established enterprises, the cloud can be either their savior or their nightmare. The tools and platforms that innovative startups use to disrupt the business models of established companies are the same tools and platforms that established business can use to develop the agility necessary to flourish.