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An interesting blog post from Vijay Amballa where he writes: "The truth is, at this very moment your company is most likely either disrupting other companies or being disrupted. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is AGILITY !, that’s it." What do you think?
Stuart Chandler Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
Yes but caveat 'only.' Companies can be really solid on a capability, service, product offering fir today's customer etc. but that will last only so long before change is required. Agility is the mechanical foundation to change, adopt and morph to the next iteration or thing. The speed of change today relative to yesteryear is significant thus Agility is an absolute critical foundation. The reason I caveat 'only' is because anybody can change things but not necessarily do it right. A company can change a process, product etc. but not necessarily put in place the right process or product. So for change sake, agility must be accompanied with quality outcomes.
Comment
+1.So, at the operational level, "agility must be accompanied with quality outcomes" and the same approach works at the strategy level (i.e. picking the right initiatives, being agile, and ensuring that outcomes are/were supportive of goals/objectives).
  1. Karl Walter Keirstead
  2. 2 months ago
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John Morris Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
This is an amazingly important question. "Is agile the only sustainable competitive advantage?"

Whether or not there is any such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage has been a long-standing debate between business execs (seeking that brass ring), and economists and others (who sometimes claim long-term sustainable advantage doesn't exist). It can be shown with economic models (and extremely restrictive assumptions) that sustained competitive advantage tends to evaporate under the glare of the market. In real life however, with market imperfections and especially information asymmetries, some institutions manage to maintain higher returns on a long term basis.

Fans of strategy like to weigh in on the possibility of sustained competitive advantage -- because surely a sustained competitive advantage would be the very best big-picture strategy! The only problem though, is that everything can be copied, including "agility". And then the only thing left is "culture" and someone will reference leaders of successful Japanese corporations who apparently have 500 year strategic plans.

I even contend that the mantra of agile is dangerous -- especially when applied to corporations as a whole. What is often called agile now was previously called "opportunism". Both agile and opportunism look for market signals and short-term wins; and one wins if one's organization can quickly adapt to the new circumstances. If this adaptability process occurs at the expense of leadership, direction, strategy -- and especially corporate identity -- then it's fair to describe this process as opportunism. (The word disruption was used in the original discussion; business history reveals that most of history can be described as being characterized by disruption.)

And business opportunism -- lacking an anchor in corporate identity and leadership -- can become a random walk. The concept of random walk is applied to many domains, including the behaviour of molecules in a gas, stock prices -- and of interest here, to the behavior of individual insects in a swarm. Insect swarms -- and markets -- are marvellous things to behold. However, the life expectancy of any individual swarm member is extremely variable. In the same way, a corporate entity without a strong identity and direction, and which is managed according to agile or opportunistic decision rules, will probably end up follow a random walk through market space. And as with all members of swarms in any space, the life expectancy of said entity will be shorter than it would be if following an alternative strategy. Agility as opportunistic strategy is a disaster. On the other hand, agility as a skill or capability can be important and beneficial. Agility is great if it is applied in support of the pursuit of well-thought out strategies and which support persistent corporate identity.

My summary on this question is that (a) agile is not a good strategy and (b) agile is not sustainable advantage.
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Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
The only sustainable advantage of a company is a monopoly.

Agility is for the little and poor guys, and they need it only to get out of their current little, poor, situations.
CEO, Co-founder, profluo.com
Comment
Exactly (and LOL). "Monopoly" or "rentierism" or "credentialism" or "cronyism" or even "gangsterism", lots of ways to restrain markets for sub-optimal performance -- well not sub-optimal for the franchise owner.
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 months ago
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David Chassels Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Oh dear another Digital tag (the headline title is Business Agility through Digital Agility) which totally misleads on a subject that does have some merit. The article is overly complex compared to a recent one emailed to me about "Alternative Data" a concise and relevant subject copied below and a link from Tech Target's whatis.techtarget.com.

To use Digital linked to Agility just makes no sense. Yes business needs to be aware of all surrounding "activity" as articulated in "Alternative Data" and be prepared for change. But to apply Agility a tag already hijacked by "IT" as a programming methodology just starts the confusion. (I see author was a programmer?) The article does make some good points but to my mind it is about business knowledge and awareness of the market. Sure change is required but do we not have the "Adaptive" tag which already highlights this requirement supporting business activity which is more focused than just Digital?

Business want clarity in thinking in their language and this Agility use linked to Digital will not sit well with them. Alternative Data as articulated make much more sense but as ever there is the need for business to understand just "how" changes in their operational processes can be quickly implemented....without going into programming languages!


Alternative Data
Alternative data is information gathered from non-traditional information sources. Analysis of alternative data can provide insights beyond that which an industry's regular data sources are capable of providing.
The question of what constitutes alternative data varies from industry to industry. In banking, for example, a lender may traditionally rely on an applicant's credit score to assess risk and determine the probability that a loan will be paid back. When the applicant has no prior credit history, however, alternative data that illustrates the applicant's history of meeting financial obligations, such as paying a cell phone bill on time each month, can be useful information. A bank that includes alternative data sources in risk assessment for a loan may also factor the applicant's history of paying rent on time and whether or not the applicant consistently makes more than the required minimum monthly payment on credit card bills.
In recent years, the increase of data from mobile devices, satellites, sensors and websites has led to large amounts of structured, semistructured and unstructured data, also known as big data. All that data has the potential to be mined for information and potentially help people make better data-driven decisions. In response to the demand for alternative data, some traditional research firms have branched out to become alt-data providers, selling corporate clients data from non-traditional sources and services to analyze that data..
Once a data source begins to be used on a regular basis, it is no longer considered to be an alternative source. Current use cases for alternative data include:
• Precision agriculture ? farmers can analyze time-series images taken by drones to make more accurate predictions about crop yields.
• Healthcare ? public healthcare workers can mine social media for specific keywords to fine-tune initiatives that track the spread of influenza.
• Investment firms ? analysts can use satellite imagery to analyze the number of cars in a shopping mall parking lot and predict the state of a local economy.
• Military ? autonomous robots can be used as additional eyes and ears to help improve situational awareness.
References
  1. https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/alternative-data?track=NL-1823&ad=921900&src=921900&asrc=EM_NLN_97433120&utm_medium=EM&utm_source=NLN&utm_campaign=20180710_Word%20of%20the%20Day:%20alternative%20data
Comment

@David. I agree the term "agility" has been taken over by IT. Unfortunately, "Alternative Data" is likely to confuse vast populations. In the USA, the term "alternative facts" means facts you invent when you don't like the usual "facts".

The danger is "alternative data" will be viewed as data folks manufacture when they don't like the data they generate or somehow gain access to.
  1. Karl Walter Keirstead
  2. 2 months ago
Good point Karl but the definition concise relevant and readily understandable. It seems to put big data into a practical business arena and might attract their attention...!
  1. David Chassels
  2. 2 months ago
@David, very interesting excursion on "Alternative Data". Analysts rarely think on data sources this way. Although alternative data might be not so reliable, it is a unique source to add extra dimension. People rarely think that results of analysis are roughly same, as far as same data are used, whatever algorithmic tricks you apply. Only new data not considered by others can make real difference.
  1. Boris Zinchenko
  2. 2 months ago
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Dr Alexander Samarin Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Look at the root - agility is an emergent characteristic of an enterprise as a system. To maintain the optimal level of agile of your enterprise you need to have a good, right and successful architecture of your enterprise (as a system).

Thanks,
AS
Comment
@Dr Alexander, your incredibly relevant point on architecture inspired my following answer.
  1. Boris Zinchenko
  2. 2 months ago
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Boris Zinchenko Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Agile project management is becoming a popular practice, especially in IT development. It offers significant merit in splitting large missions into small sprints dynamically configurable across work teams. When applied creatively, agile approach may significantly improve business responsiveness to emerging challenges in dynamic economic environment.

Despite tempting benefits, agile management bears also significant business risks. Due to simplified decision making and direct informal communication agile approach may potentially dissolve centralized coordination and endanger strategic planning in higher level scope of the whole organization. For this reason, large corporations are typically very cautious on implementing agile practices and sustain from scaling them too widely.

How a company can combine all benefits of agile management and avoid associated risks? Key factor in achieving a balance is accurate business modeling. BPM technology brings necessary structuring and transparency lacked by agile techniques when used alone. Combination of BPM and agile ensures an ideal compound by optimally complementing rigid planning with competitive flexibility in task execution.
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Kay Winkler Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Agility being a competitive advantage, let alone the only one, would really depend on the market reality and the company's baseline in terms of perceived value to it's customers.
I wouldn't agree that agility is universally the only thing, allowing a company to compete. Most markets aren't yet at a point of rigidity and stuffed with dense vertical cluster that process driven enhancements of added services (KYC based), response times and the provision of added channels won't make a difference. They still do in most cases.
Having said that, of course it has become important to adapt, enhance and also to innovate, shortening the time-to-market cycles. There, BPM keeps playing a key role, leveraging the company's capacity to compete.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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