Agility is essential to keep pace with the change, disruption and opportunity that digital brings. But true enterprise agility—the kind that balances speed with stability—is proving elusive. To own it, FS firms need to redefine it.

For FS firms, enterprise agility is a prized strategic capability. With good reason—our research shows that truly agile organizations do better, much better. But despite many FS firms’ radical transformations to keep pace with change, true agility is proving elusive.

FS organizations’ efforts are fragmented. They are doing many of the ‘right’ things to remain competitive. They are leveraging new digital technologies like cloud and artificial intelligence, data and analytics. They are pivoting their focus and investments to areas of new growth and value. They are introducing new agile, iterative methods of development to achieve speed to value and speed to outcome. They are becoming increasingly customer focused. So what is missing?

To own agility, FS firms need to rethink their definition of agility: true enterprise agility is transformational; it is not just about IT or DevOps, new business models or ways of engaging with customers—it needs to be embedded deep within and across the organization, becoming a core capability.

What does true agility look like?

Enterprise agility is a company’s ability to anticipate, sense and respond to volatility and opportunity in the market in ways that create competitive advantage. True agility balances speed and stability.

If you have tried to ride a bicycle, you understand the concept—stability without speed (and vice versa) leads to a fall. Within organizations:

  • Speed is achieved when a network of rapidly connected subsystems and capabilities are able to mobilize in fit-for-purpose responses, to capture value creation opportunities and avoid value destruction.
  • Stability is achieved through formal structure and enabling processes, which deliver coordination and control, resource allocation, and effectiveness.

But getting this balance right requires fundamental change across all facets of the organization—from organizational structure to leadership, processes, workforce and talent strategies, and business culture.

How agile are FS organizations?

They are not performing well. Accenture’s Transformation GPS study, which tracks change within organizations across the speed and stability axes, puts FS firms in the ‘At Risk’ quadrant—FS is rated slower and less stable on average than the cross-industry benchmark.

What’s at risk?

Accenture’s research shows that truly agile organizations deliver better financial performance and better long-term competitive advantage.

Join me next week as I delve into this research.  In the mean time, you can read more about Enterprise Agility in Financial Services in this report and listen and subscribe to our podcast, Talking Agility.

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