• April 25, 2016

Let’s Talk About Flex: 4 Factors of Enterprise Adaptability

Flexibility is a complex term. It can mean many different things to different people and organizations, and it can be incredibly difficult to create—particularly for enterprises that are more comfortable in the confines of status quo.

That said, there’s one universal truth about it: For the enterprise to create and protect competitive advantages in the future, flexibility is unavoidable. In fact, a 2015 PwC report suggests that the enterprises that win in the future will be the ones capable of proactively sensing and responding to change.

How can your organization become more flexible? How can it identify the gaps and barriers that hinder flexibility? And what are the benefits of embracing a more agile mindset?

4 Factors That Influence Enterprise Flexibility

If the goal is for the enterprise to be more agile and dynamic, leadership teams need to focus on four key areas, says Sudeep Gautam, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Vice President and General Manager of Global Enterprise Mobility Services, Advisory & Transformation:

  1. Strategic leadership: Are flexibility and agility truly part of what your company wants to be in the future? And are they being driven from leadership at the very top of the organization?
  2. Investment priorities: Does your organization have the foundational rigidity that’s required to enable flexibility? And what are the most relevant capabilities you need to optimize agility?
  3. Culture: Do you have the right people and processes in place to build a strong, adaptive culture that ultimately embraces flexibility?
  4. Structure: How much do you need to invest? Where do you need to invest it? What will move the needle most? And how will you measure success?

“In many cases, enterprises tackle agile transformation as a side project, just as a tactical measure to solve a specific need,” Gautam says. “But that’s the wrong approach. Instead, you need to look at why you’re doing it, what barriers will keep you from achieving it, and how this transformed state will ultimately drive positive business outcomes. Transformation needs to be applied to the core of the business process to impact radical change.”

3 Steps to Agility and Flexibility

Investing in transformation that enables agility and flexibility must begin with an identification of the technological gaps that could hinder it. Enterprise leaders can do this in three different ways, Gautam says.

  1. Analyze your strategy and implementation to see what issues might prevent you from executing a successful transformation.
  2. Evaluate your technology, infrastructure, and processes, looking for roadblocks that might keep you from sensing and responding to changes or opportunities in the market.
  3. Study the broader ecosystem—vendors, analysts, partners, etc.—to see how that environment might impact your flexibility.

Typically, this process leads to a common realization: In order to be truly effective in the future, enterprises must invest in technologies that empower them to be agile and secure. Gartner calls this state bimodal, and Ailton Santos, HPE Vice President of Software, Brazil, says it will define the next era of business administration.

“The beauty of the future state is that we can combine elements of premodern, industrial, and postmodern philosophies to achieve large economies of scale and incredible levels of micro-personalization and analysis,” Santos says. “We can operate at scale without sacrificing responsiveness and customization, which means the enterprise no longer has to choose between scale or flexibility.”

The Role of the Cloud in Creating a Flexible Environment

Cloud technologies play a critical role in driving transformation and enabling flexibility; but when enterprise leaders talk about the cloud, Gautam says it’s important to understand its various classifications and the new breed of apps powering it.

“By 2020, there will be close to 7.6 billion people with 100 billion devices, and those devices will require 1 trillion applications,” Gautam says. “That tells us that the future state will be driven by mobile applications, cloud native apps, web scale apps, apps to power the Internet of Things. At the same time, you’ll have to continue to support and integrate with the other applications and workloads that currently power your business. The question is: How do you create a bridge between the applications and workload of today and the apps and workloads of tomorrow?”

The solution? Gautam and Santos agree: Hybrid environments that leverage the unique benefits of public and private cloud platforms to more effectively and efficiently facilitate enterprise security and agility.

“The advantage of hybrid cloud is that it greatly reduces access time and latency, and keeps data exposure to a minimum,” Santos says. “So, while the goal is to be fast and flexible, you can achieve that without having to sacrifice safety and security.”

As enterprises transform to meet tomorrow’s demands, they must be able to rely on their ability to rapidly adapt to new technologies and business priorities including those that protect the enterprise and integrate traditional IT delivery.

To learn more about handling legacy tech in your enterprise transformation, read the The Economist Intelligence article, “Solving the CIO’s disruption dilemma—the blended IT strategy.” 

Find out more about the path to transformation on the Transform Forward page.