If there is one thing businesses need to succeed during a pandemic, it’s agility. “It’s the key to a new chapter for companies,” said Archana Ramamoorthy, Chief Technology Officer for North America at Workday, at a recent ITWC webinar.

Agility is the ability of an organization to renew itself, adapt and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, and turbulent environment, she said. “Organizations designed to be agile are likely to achieve higher performance and be healthier.”

What does it take to be agile?  And how do you get there from here?

The secret, according to Ramamoorthy, is to have a single system, like the bridge on a ship, with full view of all the components and moving parts in the company. A cloud-based system that combines HR, finance, and planning makes it possible for executives to have a global view of how the company is doing. “It makes it very easy to adapt and change,” said Ramamoorthy.

“It is the power of one,” said Rob Sidey, Chief Technology Officer, IMCO Investments. “One data structure across functions is hugely beneficial.” It was also instrumental in the company’s seamless transition to working from home, he said.

Agile companies do these four things

Research on leading organizations revealed four best practices for developing greater agility, said Ramamoorthy.

First, the study showed that agile organizations are responsive. Aligning data, processes and technology in one system provides a foundation to support continuous change, Ramamoorthy said. It gives leaders the information they need to make quick decisions and, like a ship captain, steer away from danger. With a comprehensive platform in place at IMCO, “HR, Finance and IT are now working together as a collective group,” added Sidey.

Secondly, systems for organizational agility must be able to adapt at the speed of business. “Change happens in real time,” said Ramamoorthy. The ability to scale and built-in automation with mass operations is “paramount.”

Thirdly, agile organizations are skilled, with a focus on building the future workforce.  “Being able to understand the skillsets in an organization is the first step required for organizations to stay ahead of their talent needs — knowing what you have, what you need, and how to hire for those skillsets,” Ramamoorthy said. “Know your people to grow your business.”

The fourth element of organizational agility is about empowering workers and decision-makers with real-time insights. The power of data is very apparent in today’s situation. Sixty-four per cent of CIOs say data analytics is now the most high-profile new area of oversight, said Ramamoorthy. “Workday’s platform provides a single source of truth to measure what matters and to quickly pivot digital initiatives.”

Advice for moving forward

As organizations plan for the new normal, Sidey cautioned against a strategy of extremes.  “I don’t know if it will be as extreme as everyone working from home. Our focus is on a hybrid state to make sure the tools will support that environment.”

Ramamoorthy agreed that this is a good time to rethink strategy. She advised organizations to think about their plans to communicate, to become more scalable with cloud solutions and to make better use of data for informed decision-making. “It is up to us to embrace change and do the right things to elevate our people and businesses to ride the constant wave of change,” she said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada