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Monday, July 9, 2007

Will Enterprise 2.0 Help To Make Enterprises More Agile?

11:46:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , , , No comments
My interest in Enterprise 2.0 technologies is very much related to the question if and how they can help to make an enterprise more agile. With agile I mean the following:
  1. Ability to quickly anticipate, recognize and identify important changes (or need for changes) in the business environment

  2. Ability to quickly make informed decisions on how to react (or not react) on these changes

  3. Ability to quickly react on the changes by adjusting goals, strategies, processes, organization and supporting infrastructures such as IT.
Simply put, an agile enterprise is an enterprise that can do all of the above, preferably before any competitor does it.

I am a firm believer in that efficient communications and collaboration are the most critical success factors for basically any kind of endeavour, be it a project or enterprise. Any other factors can be important or even critical, but not as critical as these two. My simple conclusion about Enterprise 2.0 technologies is that if they can help to improve communications and collaboration in an enterprise, then they should be natural components in any initiative to make an enterprise more agile. As I have argued before in a post about agility and efficiency, BPM and SOA are two popular approaches that very much aim to make processes and IT systems more responsive to changes in the business environment. In other words, they both contribute to make the enterprise more agile. And this is in a sense what Enterprise 2.0 should be about - to help keeping the enterprise together while being in a state of constant change and making it move fast forward ahead of competition.

However, the need for increased agility is only one side of the story because most enterprises today are subject to an immense pressure from two sides - they need to become more agile and more efficient at the same time in order to stay ahead of competitors, or even just to survive as an enterprise.

My own analysis of why (Swedish) global corporations such as IKEA and H&M are so successful is that they have since long realized the need to be agile yet efficient and made it to the heart of their business. I personally like IKEA's business mantra "quick, lean and simple" and have adopted it as my own mantra. My interpretation of it is that "quick" stands for agility, "lean" for efficiency and that "simple" is what it takes to be both agile and efficient. Whenever there is a decision to be made, decision makers hear the mantra in the back of their heads and ask themselves three simple questions: Does this make us quicker? Does it make us leaner? And is it simple? If is not, let's try something else.


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