Agility in every organization area has become a business imperative in a fast-changing world. A year ago, organizations only realized the benefits of agility in Latin America. Today, agility is becoming part of their DNA, accelerating the maturity of this philosophy in the region, according to the recent study: “Agility in Latin America”, developed by NTT DATA in partnership with MIT Technology Review.
Five years ago, when this report was first conducted in the region, the agile philosophy was primarily restricted to technology-related areas. Currently, these areas continue to be the main drivers, with 90% of IT departments adopting agile, we found that it is becoming a transversal model in the management strategy of organizations, achieving greater levels from other departments such as data & analytics (48%), innovation (44%), human resources(32%) and marketing (30%). It is permeating areas such as sales & customer service (19%) or finance (18%) compared to the previous edition. In both cases, the adoption rate in 2021 was 12%.
Organizations achieve benefits such as improving customer experience, generating greater employee engagement, faster delivery, and better business alignment by incorporating new technologies. An agile company is also more attractive to new talent, a significant advantage in times of shortage. As a result, the main advantage of being agile lies in the organization being more flexible, resilient, and able to adapt to changes.
Despite the advances and benefits, the journey remains fraught with challenges. Organizational culture is one of the main barriers, impacting 72% of companies surveyed. With a slightly smaller ratio but relevant, there are other obstacles such as resistance to change, bureaucratic and inefficient processes, or silos between areas. Leadership style is another key factor. When leaders do not consider agility as a tool that can adapt to change, advancement becomes complex.
From Tactics to Strategy
Beyond these obstacles, there is an imminent need to make the cultural leap of adopting the new mindset. Most companies already have a medium to a high level of maturity in the region, which means companies yet to adopt the new philosophy may jeopardize their survival. Industries with highly regulated or captive and small customer bases are often slowest to adopt agility. However, we discovered transformation has started in oil and gas, natural resources, and government entities.
Another factor, perhaps the most crucial barrier to success in the transformation process towards agile models, arises in a region characterized by immediacy: real progress is achieved in the long term and following the implementation of supported strategies over time. Latin American organizations often change the roadmap when instant results are not forthcoming.
The future outlook is positive. The agile mindset is democratized and adopted by different roles and profiles. Companies are betting on utilizing agility to leverage current capabilities and increase productivity, as adoption has enabled new levels of collaboration and co-creation.
The evolution from agile to agility is underway. Although it seems like a subtlety; however, in practice, it involves moving from agile principles and values to solve one-off initiatives to starting a holistic, organization-wide vision to react quickly to the exponential changes in the market.