3 ways to be more adaptable to change
One of the biggest things an organization can do to stay afloat and thriving in our current competitive landscape is to be readily adaptable to change. In contrast, one of the biggest mistakes I often see organizations make is not having a strong enough grasp on their IT infrastructure to do so.
This means that when a problem arises, decision makers will often act out of instinct and make changes that then create further problems or cause unexpected side effects. Once you can quickly and properly survey the technological and/or organizational landscape you’re working with, being adaptable to change can be almost effortless. Below are a few tactics to help you remain adaptable to change and avoid potential catastrophe in the face of an uncertain market.
- Tend to your garden and always have a sense for what’s going on
Think of your business like a garden -- as your garden gets bigger, one section can often become overgrown and difficult to clean up if you’re too busy trying to expand your garden to different parts of the yard. So -- when parts of your garden start to wither, it can be hard to find the source of the problem and address it in the most efficient way possible. Not only overgrowth fueled by changes, but also simple neglect born of stability can lead to rot in your garden. The state-of-the-art changes so rapidly in IT, part of your department may be outdated without even knowing it, holding the rest of the department back for prolonged periods of time.
This is why tending to your garden (or IT infrastructure) should always the first step in preparing for change. Once you cut back the overgrowth in your IT infrastructure, you’ll be able to see very clear and distinct patterns that allow you to re-take control and make more informed decisions. When you make more informed decisions, you yield more predictable results. Companies often do this by aggregating each IT touchpoint into one, single source, as opposed to several different "sources of truth" that all tell you different things.
- Reevaluate your build vs buy initiatives
I regularly see companies trying to fit a square peg in a round hole when it comes to its IT team’s strengths and weaknesses. I suggest assessing where your team shines and where it lacks. If there’s another platform or service that could do something better than your team can, invest in that. While bought solutions can sometimes be more expensive, it’s not uncommon for IT teams to squander that same amount (and then some) by spending excess hours trying to solve a problem that’s already been solved.
Sure -- some of your teams might feel like something they’re "good at" might be ripped away, but this is where you’ll have the opportunity to discover where your true human capital lies. Instead of commodity skills, they can weigh in with things like knowledge of the business: processes, customers, market, applications and more. Once the initial fear of outsourcing dies down, you’ll realize you have much more valuable internal expertise at your disposal.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if there’s something your team is especially skilled in, take the initiative to build internal solutions that could streamline existing processes and make everyday operations easier. The key is knowing where those strengths lie, realizing you do have choices, and making the call to outsource resources as needed.
- Integrate each touchpoint within your technology ecosystem into one place
Your company does not operate in a vacuum -- it exists as part of an ecosystem of internal and external stakeholders, technologies, processes and data flows. As such, it’s important to develop a core competency for integration and to apply it to your internal and external-facing ecosystems, thus ensuring you’re always getting the full picture.
For internal IT teams, that could mean integrating your various models of software architectures and systems so you’re able to have better understanding of the IT department at large. For external integrations, having a tightly integrated IT infrastructure increases overall agility, especially for companies offering physical goods. For example a discount retailer can maximize its returns by sourcing product from the currently least expensive of a set of suppliers. By maintaining a holistic view of its vendor ecosystem, the retailer can see who is selling what product at the best price at any point in time and can rapidly refactor supplier integrations accordingly.
Staying flexible is key
As you scale, these incremental changes will not only allow your company to be agile in its choices, it will also create substantial financial yield as you start making more informed decisions. It’s only when you onboard partners, integrate systems, and monitor progress in this way that you can make effective changes at the drop of a hat.
Change is an inevitable part of business that you should not only expect, but also prepare for and even exploit to your advantage. If you can streamline the IT overgrowth that inevitably builds up as your business expands and develops, you’ll be much more attuned to change and its potential ripple effect. Similarly, if you can see patterns and opportunities and change course before trouble appears, you’ll be able to operate in a much more efficient and lucrative manner. Having the ability to change and adapt will not only create more efficient internal processes, but will continue to be an integral competitive differentiator as industry disruption continues.
John Thielens is the CTO of Cleo and is responsible for crafting technology strategy, innovation, and architecting enterprise integration solutions to solve complex requirements in multi-enterprise, cloud, collaboration, mobile, and other integration challenges. John has more than 30 years of experience in the software industry. Most recently, he held the position of chief architect, product suite, and CSO with Axway. In prior roles, he served as a senior technology leader in GXS, Inovis, Tumbleweed, and other software technology companies. John holds a mathematics degree from Harvard University.