The change agenda sits at the heart of board conversations about company performance and strategy. And often the biggest pain point companies have to overcome is the pace of change, ever-accelerating and often driven by the transformative impact of technology.

Technological transformation is driven by two competitive drivers. On the one hand are insurgent new competitors, who have the luxury of building their businesses on greenfield architectures and designing data models that are fit for purpose from day one. On the other are incumbent competitors who have left their technology debt behind.

For many IT leaders, it can feel like these are impossible standards to meet. But that is the expectation, and it is the reason why agility is being driven so ruthlessly into company culture and process.

Agility enables the technology team to keep pace with the business and to help drive innovation. Choosing the right technology partners is critical to maintaining confidence in the approach — after all, with too many unknown and therefore untrusted technology partners, agility can be quickly impaired.

There are several important ways in which technology has improved agility in the modern organisation.

Software as a service (SaaS), once considered a tactic to circumvent the IT department — or dismissed as shadow IT — has become the preferred way for companies to buy their applications. It enables technology staff to focus on configurations rather than maintain customised solutions. And it pushes the cost and responsibility for a lot of innovation back onto the vendor.

For the end-user that manifests in regular, often quarterly, updates to capabilities. These in turn de-risk the upgrade cycle — while still allowing customers to determine when to turn the new features on.

Integration as a platform service, meanwhile, provides a low-code environment for citizen development of new initiatives, while DevOps and sandbox environments give teams the confidence to move ahead rapidly.

Pressure building

There are two other primary forces, beyond the competition in particular, that are also driving the need to build greater agility into business practice.

The first is the need to ensure that your ability to match the consumer’s expectations outperforms that of your competitors. To do this you need to innovate faster, with technologies that foster collaboration throughout the organisation, and which break down any boundaries between business and technology.

The other is the need to keep pace with regulators, who are themselves having to adjust to technology-driven changes in consumer behaviour and sentiment.

The technology debt which all companies develop over time operates as a drag on agility. Decades-old mainframe systems simply can’t be updated quickly enough as new local regulations emerge. But in a borderless e-commerce marketplace it’s worse because overseas and multi-jurisdictional regulations create new complications.

The rules set down in different jurisdictions can overlap, and even seem contradictory. 

 One of the tools companies use to improve their agility is automation — but regulators are increasingly insisting that companies be able to demonstrate and explain how the algorithms underpinning automation work. 

Security, necessarily, remains core to the thinking of IT leaders. The need to accelerate the pace of innovation cannot come at the cost of security, nor at risk to data integrity. 

Oracle has developed what it describes as Autonomous “self-driving” technology, and this underpins all the Oracle SaaS products. One practical outcome of this approach is that instead of tech staff spending weeks each year keeping security patches up to date, the system itself tunes and patches new vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

None of the forces driving organisational change –  and compelling a greater focus on agility – are likely to abate soon. If anything there will be even more pressure to hit the accelerator harder in the years ahead.  Organisations that commit to the architecture and the platforms that can empower that acceleration will be best placed to meet the ever-rising expectations of customers.

To know more about how Oracle CX can help financial services organizations keeping up with the ever-rising tide of customer expectations, visit https://go.oracle.com/unforgettablefinserv.

About this author

Andrew Higginbottom is Principal CX Solution ConsultantOracle, which is a ember of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply. 

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