Cost pressures, market uncertainty and the need to get close to the customer have propelled good leadership and agility to the top of the business agenda.
As UK executives try to do more with less, the pressure to deal with changing circumstances, be quick to respond and be reactive to customer needs is growing, according to new research conducted by commercial think-tank The Future Foundation.
The study of 200 business leaders in the UK, sponsored by Microsoft, also warned that companies which fail to implement measures to boost their agility will find it increasingly hard to thrive.
Almost 60 per cent of respondents expressed concerns about the state of the UK economy, with a further 40 per cent fearing lower results as a result.
Just over half of the respondents said that good leadership is the top attribute of a successful enterprise, with 45 per cent citing agility as key to success in the future.
Gordon Smillie, group director of Microsoft's enterprise and partner group, told vnunet.com: "People want to remove cost from their business but they are making investments in a few key areas, in particular anything to improve service to customers and technology that allows them to do more with less.
"Companies are saying: 'Get me to a lower cost base but make sure I'm competitive in the future and adaptable.' The key thing is how to build high value systems and services in a way that's flexible."
In particular, practices such as supply chain management, build to order, zero inventory and on demand/just in time delivery are more attractive than ever, according to the report.
The pressures also mean that companies are increasingly keen to consider technologies that allow staff to work more productively, including knowledge management and business intelligence.
"IT strategy has moved from one way of thinking - one architectural approach or basing all your applications on one language - to making sure you create a flexible architecture," said Smillie.
How agile are you?
The Future Foundation has put together a checklist of the key components and behaviours of an agile enterprise. How does your business stack up?
- Empower individuals to make decisions
- Maximise cost efficiencies across systems
- Reduce cost of failure (prevent mistakes before they happen)
- Identify key stakeholder groups
- Create effective networking both within and outside the organisation
- Improve communications
- Alert networks and stakeholders to changes
- Ensure better team working and collaboration
- Be responsive to changing demands
- Anticipate needs and identify change quicker
- Reconfigure existing systems quickly
- Retrain and re-deploy staff and resources with ease
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