Guest Column | November 20, 2020

Striving For Enterprise Agility? How AI And Automation Can Help

By Rahul Kelkar, head of product management, Digitate

AI Artificial Intelligence

Enterprise leaders know agility is important, but they don’t always know how to realize it. A report from PMI, for instance, found that 92% of C-level executives believe organizational agility is critical to business success, and 84% percent agree that organizational agility is necessary for success in digital transformation. However, just 27% consider their organizations to be highly agile.  

Agility turns out to be a nebulous goal. Leaders know that being agile is a good thing, but many are hard-pressed to give a practical definition of enterprise agility. And that can make it difficult to know where to begin. The combined application of automation and AI, however, can play a key role in helping organizations achieve agility.

Understanding The Need For Agility

Being agile empowers enterprises to adapt to fluctuating business needs and satisfy ever-evolving customer expectations. Organizations constantly struggle to accelerate to get their offerings to market in the desired time window and all the time keeping cognizance of the changing priorities.

When an enterprise quickly adapts to changes in the market or customer need, it’s assumed to be the result of a highly integrated IT system, the efficacy of strong teams across many departments, or some other factor.

At the start of the pandemic, many organizations rushed to get systems in place to enable remote work, and the efforts were often an “all hands-on deck” exercise. Enterprises were trying to create the necessary but often temporary infrastructure that minimized the impact on the IT team. Six months later, enterprises and their employees are trying to settle into a more reasonable, systemic, and routine way of working remotely.

The foundation of this new way to work is going to be enterprise transparency because that's what will enable enterprises to be more effective. Agility is the backbone that will bring both efficiency and effectiveness.

How AI And Automation Help With Agility

When paired, AI and automation are playing a huge role in the effort as enterprises transform to become more agile. But it can’t just be either/or when it comes to implementation; it’s the coupling of these most effective technologies.

The benefits of this approach include increased speed to market for heightened responsiveness, enhanced quality for greater customer satisfaction, continual improvements in productivity, organizational change management, and behavioral transformation.

Getting Started On The Road To Agility

The journey to an agile enterprise involves these four steps:

  • Define the scope: The first step in starting the journey to agile is defining the initial scope of the project. This could be a set of critical business applications and underlying business system infrastructure applications. It includes the processes where full transparency needs to be established. It means considering the applications and business processes being used, the critical dependencies, and the different activities being conducted within. Having full visibility and insight into all of these areas is crucial for defining the scope.
  • Communication and transparency are essential: As mentioned earlier, the foundation of the enterprise agile journey will be enterprise transparency. Primarily speaking from an IT perspective, when there are operations and apps, all being held by different stakeholders and these business applications are run either in data centers or hybrid clouds, transparency becomes a bit of a mirage. Everyone has a siloed view; they only know and see what they focus on. Transparency needs to be made explicit – not just implicit – in a situation where everyone is remote.
  • Managing change: Change management is critical for enterprises in this current scenario, across the functions. Key positions and key people need to be on board and fully aware of all the ramifications of AI and automation in their environment. The PMI study found that to achieve agility, leaders need to know how to communicate clearly with employees, particularly if they’re struggling to accept new responsibilities. Leaders can drive greater adoption of agility by demonstrating their ability to be flexible, learn from their mistakes, and tackle risk head-on.
  • Cooperation, not competition: It’s important to understand that it is not the enterprise against AI; it’s the enterprise with AI. Automation and AI exist to help organizations achieve larger goals that wouldn’t be possible without these two technologies working in tandem.

Speeding Toward Agility

Agility enables enterprises to quickly respond to market conditions and external factors. Gallup found that companies need the right tools, processes, and mindset to be agile. The pandemic put a rush order on digital transformation, revealing the need for faster-than-human assistance with the various initiatives necessary to ensure long-term business viability. The pairing of automation and AI is helping make these efforts toward an agile enterprise successful. Refer to the best practices above as you embark on or fine-tune your journey toward agility.