One of the recurring themes in product demos in the recent past is that all too familiar spiel about being “technology for business”. To be sure, this T for B angle is a really good thing and all that. But it’s a problem when vendors lay that out freely and happily without having a product that genuinely lives up to that spiel.
And what’s worse, when they notice that you don’t display any skepticism and that your eyebrows didn’t quiver questioningly during the T for B pitch, the word ‘agility’ is sure to come up with bigger force four or five sentences later. Because what they are really doing is dropping all the right magic key-words to first hook and then reel you in. So if you missed the opportunity to let a quiver ripple across your eyebrow at the first instance, the mention of the word ‘agility’ is when you need to ruffle your eyebrows violently and let skepticism show in no unmistakable terms.
That said, I am not suggesting all vendors are devious or that all products fall short remarkably on this score. I’ve written about this before and the point I want to make in this post is that agility is a very seductive word. More than the foxiness of vendors, or understanding their tricks and learning to deal with all that, it is perhaps important to introspect and get a grip on why the mention of the word ‘agility’ makes you warm up, lighten a lot and get all eager and willing to believe.
Regardless of whether you are from business or IT, ‘agility’ plays on sentiments that come from years of having to deal with IT infrastructure that is predominantly siloed and more rigid than not. It plays on your pain from those wounds, some still raw, perhaps, of having to deal with unsettling exchanges with business, application owners, IT teams, SIs, etc., over budgets, change-requests and so forth.
Take a step back.
That agility spiel that appeals to you from that vendorspeak is not all about software. Or about technology. Granted that agility can be enabled by software and technology. But the lack of that may not be what is holding your firm back on the business agility front.
Agility is really about a sort of an organizational consciousness, facilitated by software.
Take a look at this – a rather light-minded view of affairs –
Technology support to complete the last mile is absolutely paramount – no denying that, but mostly real agility comes from wearing an attitude . Of being a 1. An attitude worn by not one person, but by most people in your firm. It is an attitude that calls for being aware of changing customer expectations, being alert to market forces, being responsive and then doing something about it by exploiting technology to realize great results.
So the root of agility lies in the collective consciousness of an organization. But if your foundations aren’t in place, then, implementing that software, even if it really does give you all the agility in the world that your firm needs, is not by itself going to make your firm agile – that’d merely make you a 2 A.
In the end it is that tendency, that eagerness, readiness to do something that forms the real foundation. The willingness to adapt. To change.
You absolutely need the combination of being a 1 and having the power of A.