Most Businesses Want Agility but Few Have It

Although many organizations recognize that agility enables better responses to changing business conditions, few have taken the necessary steps to reach that goal, a new study from CA Technologies suggests.

Although two-thirds of the respondents to the firm’s recent survey saw value in business agility, only about 12 percent said their organizations were on their way to achieving it.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said improved business agility could provide a better competitive advantage; 65 percent said it could lead to higher customer satisfaction and retention; and 58 percent said it could result in better employee satisfaction and retention.

Despite those clear advantages, though, many businesses face hurdles in their quest for better agility. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents cited complex environments as an impediment to achieving that goal, while 58 percent cited cultural and political barriers. Twenty-five percent said there was a lack of financial commitment, and another 25 percent cited outdated apps and tools.

“Success today requires that companies quickly sense and adapt to changes, pivot to address market changes and customer needs, and do so at scale,” said Surya Panditi, general manager of agile management at CA Technologies.

High-Level Execs

More than 150 top executives at selected companies participated in the survey, which Gatepoint Research conducted between March and June of this year. The survey pool’s composition was 19 percent C-level, 15 percent vice president level, 36 percent director-level and 30 percent managerial-level company officials.

CA Technologies has focused heavily on the development ops and cloud space since its 2015 acquisition of Rally Software Development Corp., a provider of agile development software, for US$480 million.

“We’re at a tipping point, and this is just the beginning,” CA Technologies Director of Marketing Marla Schimke told the E-Commerce Times.

Vantiv Case Study

Among the companies that CA Technologies has helped transform since the Rally deal is payment processing solutions provider Vantiv, a customer using CA’s Agile Central tool.

CA Technologies worked with Vantiv to get its products to market more quickly and improve collaboration between its product and IT organization, enabling it to be more responsive to customer needs.

“The goal was to grow our organization in a way that would separate us from the competition by enabling us to deliver, incrementally, the right thing,” said David Kent, enterprise agile coach at Vantiv.

“In doing so, we would be much more engaging with our clients, deepening our relationships — and, again, getting them what they wanted and needed without the excess they wouldn’t utilize,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Elusive Objective

Despite the clear benefits of a more agile corporate strategy and business process, the support and level of adoption tends to lag well behind the ideal, observed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“For most companies, the likeliest impediments to agile adoption are organization complexity, and cultural or political resistance,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“In the first case, agile adoption works best when it extends across the enterprise, not just a few departments,” King explained, “but that requires senior executives to be on board with the strategy and be willing to lead — forcefully, if necessary.”

Like individuals, organizations tend to resist change, he said, especially when it may lead to a shift in the balance of power, or threaten the position of various individuals or groups.

“Unless agile projects and strategies are carefully nurtured and monitored, organizations run the risk of efforts being nudged off track,” said King, or becoming “subject to painful or even fatal delays.”

The perceived difficulty in attaining business agility may be clouded by the challenge of assessing a company’s performance in real time, suggested Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“I find it hard to believe that a company can adequately evaluate if they are agile or not. The only way to really determine if your organization is agile is through hindsight,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“Changes in business can come from just about anywhere — the economy, business segment, competitors, regulations, customers, etc. The only truly agile businesses are startups, because they have to react to anything that comes their way to survive,” McGregor explained. “As companies grow and mature, they naturally become less agile just by adding structure.”

The study’s release comes at a time when BMC Software reportedly is in talks on a potential deal to merge with CA Technologies.

BMC had contacted banks about obtaining financing for such a deal — one that would create one of the largest leveraged buyouts since Dell went private in 2013, Reuters reported in June. CA at the time had a market capitalization of about $13 billion.

CA spokesperson Leslie Marcotte told the E-Commerce Times that the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

Related Stories

E-Commerce Times Channels