Technology & Innovation

The only way out is ‘AGILE’

At Veris, agility is not a buzzword we understand cognitively. To us, it is a way of being that we endeavour to embrace with every new upgrade, crisis communication, employee wellness initiative or new product development.

What comes to mind when I say ‘Enterprise agility’? Let me guess, an A-team burning the night oil, hyper-activity, scattered rooms, overly filled whiteboards, utter chaos?

Well, as is the case with all hackneyed and overused vocabulary, the word agility is surrounded by its own set of myths and bubbles, which is what we’d like to bust today. To shed light on our definition of this elusive concept and how we actualise it at Veris. So, without further ado, here goes.

Agility, as defined by McKinsey Senior Partner, Aaron De Smet, is the “ability of an organization to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment. Agility is not incompatible with stability – quite the contrary. Agility requires stability for most companies.”

At Veris, agility is not a buzzword we understand cognitively. To us, it is a way of being that we endeavour to embrace with every new upgrade, crisis communication, employee wellness initiative or new product development.

Adaptive, not unstable

Contrary to popular belief, agility is not the practice of chaotic adaptability, done at the cost of order and sustainability. Agility, when done right is a blend of stability and dynamism. It is about sensing the pulse of change, planning for this change, heading headfirst into rapid iterations and implementing these irritations in a scalable and sustainable manner.

As COVID-19 hit humanity, we at Veris were faced with the crucial challenge of enabling COVID-ready workspaces across the globe. When crisis struck, we immediately bounced into action instead of freezing up. We put our heads and our hands together and built a 100% contactless suite of offerings including, touchless staff attendance and touchless visitor management to advanced COVID-19 screening.

Goal-oriented, not scattered

Agility is not about mindlessly shooting darts of renewal in myriad directions. It is about focussed, mindful impact in a carefully chosen direction. At it’s best, it is about targeting that one area within or outside the organization which will benefit most from this practice at a given point of time, and about focussing all your energies in renewing that area with clear metrics of success.

There were multiple ways to accomplish touchless visitor management, in particular. Some competitors took the easy route of reverting to older ways of entry into desktop systems. We focused on the future and creating something that can provide a better experience than what we provide currently. We, therefore, built a 100% contactless check-in software which visitors can complete on their smartphone via dynamic QR codes. By taking the path of higher resistance, we were able to take technological advancement notches higher.

Integrative, not isolated

Let’s say you decide to revamp your product inline with marquee changes in the market and the changing needs of your target audience. Now, imagine no other department in your organization is aligned with this agility and renewal strategy. How will your customers find out about this upgraded pipeline if your marketing team doesn’t follow suit in creating need and awareness? How will you sell this upgraded line if your sales executives remain unaware and untrained through this transition? I think you get the picture. Agility is not an isolated affair, period.

Any new development or feature requires proper change management and that includes not just development or support teams but a sharp alignment of marketing, sales and operations to make it happen. A new feature launch requires rigorous need creation and awareness, buy-in from customers and early adopters, user-friendly collaterals, clear value propositions communicated to the sales team along with a comparative analysis, pricing plans as well as legal and privacy documentation if required. Any gaps in the holistic and all-round planning would lead to delays and subpar customer experience.

Learning-based, not rigid

Agility is about consistent learning, unlearning and re-learning based on ever-changing marketing reality and unpredictable customer response. It is about listening intently to your customers, especially while developing new offerings or building new projects. Many organizations make the mistake of being adaptive and alert to market changes but remain rigid when the effectiveness of their response is questioned. It is not enough to respond actively and speedily to the market but to continue mapping the pulse even as you put this plan into action.

New doesn’t necessarily translate into value from the get-go. Most often, It takes multiple iterations and rebuilds to make something that delivers long-lasting value to customers. This cannot happen without consciously nurturing feedback loops that allow customers to respond and provide valuable feedback. Usage analytics combined with traction and customer feedback is essential to building great products. When Veris launched its outlook integration, we proactively opened up the flood gates of feedback, got some highly valuable customer inputs and quickly incorporate this feedback into the offering as it stands today.

Extending, not one-time

Agility research states that on an average any agility project takes 1-3 years to produce it’s desired effect. Agility is not ‘one big bang’ of transformation. In reality, agility is a series of smaller changes brought about through several pilot programs conducted with mindfulness and planning, across functions, levels and divisions of an organization.

At Veris, we have structured our teams and processes in a way that ensures that every hub and unit is agile at the micro or unit level. This ensures quick turn around time for any new pilot we launch, across teams, markets or functions. We believe in slicing any launch into multiple releases with feedback loops and constant customer engagement. This translates into a fully agile organization that is ready to adapt quickly to any crisis or opportunity (generally both are not very different from each other).

So who is our biggest role model for agility?

For us, this inspiration is close to home, quite literally.

In fact, this epitome of sustainable dynamism is probably sitting next to you as you read on. It’s none other than the ‘humble housefly’ aka the most agile animal in the world.

The reaction time of the housefly is one of the fastest known among animals. Scientists estimate this reaction time, at about 1/12th of the human reaction time. A housefly is known to react to danger even before her senses allows her to do it. This insect is so dexterous that you cannot get it even when you get it flat-footed. House flies have the ability to turn instantly, accelerate to maximum speed in an instant, and come to a complete stop with ease. It is this effortless instinctual ability to fly in multiple axes with numerous degrees of freedom that make the house fly, the most agile animal in the world and our biggest role model.

In closing, let us leave you with this fitting quote by American writer, businessman and futurist, Alvin Toffler – “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn.”