Agility is Still the “New” Buzzword

Certainly, that proven two-step dance is still on the floor, but with an added new twist: corporate is adapting and agility is now its new battle cry. To gain traction, the CIO is taking the lead and new IT roles are being added to the line. “Specialized technology professionals are a big commodity,” said Noell as corporate looks for people who can envision, as well as program.

The change in both the CIO’s role and the IT support staff is not surprising if the goal is to move the entire force from reactive to proactive, to build an adept group focused on finding multiple competitive edges that slice into the market status quo. “Fundamental disruptive changes come from seeing the same world everyone else sees, but differently,” said Holt. “And the list of differences is now found in categories that are growing exponentially.”

Much of the information needed to revamp business is already at the fingertips of CIOs—hidden in the silos and databases of dozens of disparate technologies. However, it is merely a collection of disjointed data if the CIO cannot pull it together in meaningful, useable ways.

“Developing strong business relationships and ensuring that IT products and services not only hit the mark but stay ahead of the business is both a rewarding and challenging experience,” admits Aflac’s CIO, Gerald Shields. “Being a good partner to the Aflac business leadership means that IT had to shift from being an order taker to that of a trusted advisor.”

Where it All Leads

While this all sounds well and good, is the term “agility” just another useless, soon-to-be-replaced buzzword? No, said P&G’s Passerini. To him, at least, it’s a certifiable movement.

“In five years, I want P&G’s Global Business Services organization to be delivering an ever stronger foundation for P&G business growth: driving business transformation and working as the ‘go to’ organization for all wicked problems.

“This means designing ourselves for simplicity so that, together with our partners, we can ‘flow to the work’ and respond to emerging priorities,” adds Passerini. The concept of “flow to the work” means using flexible processes to fluidly respond to the work at hand as opposed to fitting the work into the existing, and oft-times rigid, processes.

Committed agility is part of his overall strategy. The result, predicts Passerini, will be a profound change in the very nature of business.

“I see us focusing less and less on roles and more and more on results as, at the end of the day, it’s the results that matter most.”