Organizational agility — defined loosely as a combination of flexibility, nimbleness, and speed—is increasingly regarded as a source of competitive advantage in today’s fiercely competitive and fast changing markets. The ability to transform information into insight in response to market changes is critical to success.
Companies who want to compete successfully in the global marketplace must think of ways to respond quickly and make their processes more flexible.
What’s Driving the Need for Flexibility and Speed?
Regardless of location, size or industry, most companies face unparalleled pressures in today’s fast moving marketplace. Continuous change is increasingly the new normal rather than the exception. The same forces that have disrupted so many businesses, from manufacturing to publishing, are creating challenges and driving change in professional services. However, many firms may be unprepared to respond to the emergence of new and non-traditional competitors or rising customer demands – putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
According to Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption, an October 2013 article in Harvard Business Review, professional services and consulting has been immune to disruption, for two reasons: opacity and agility.
Clients find it very difficult to judge a firm’s performance in advance, because they are usually hiring it for specialized knowledge and capability that they themselves lack. Price becomes a proxy for quality. And the top ProServ firms have human capital as their primary assets; they aren’t constrained by substantial resource allocation decisions, giving them remarkable flexibility. Indeed, ProServ firms have gone through many waves of change—from generalist to functional focus, from local to global structures, from tightly structured teams to virtual distributed work forces. However, in recent years, firms are seeing their competitive position eroded by technology, alternative staffing models, and what the authors call the democratization of data.
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