Digital Transformation

What Is Business Agility?

What is business agility and why is it important today? Learn what agile SMBs are doing to get ahead of their competitors.

Blog Post

11 minute read

Dec 07, 2023

Business agility is a company’s ability to shift alongside market changes through the use of technology and flexible processes.   

This type of agility in business is valuable for modern organizations trying to keep up with an ever-shifting marketplace. Having processes that are easily adjusted will allow your organization to continuously serve modern consumers as their needs evolve.

The following sections review business agility in depth by providing examples and delving further into the benefits that stem from prioritizing agility within your operations. 

Bringing your company to the forefront of technology likely won’t happen overnight. However, it doesn’t have to be a century-long process either. Expedite your digital transformation efforts by reading Impact’s eBook, Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation

Business Agility Examples

A simple example of business agility would be a company using business intelligence (BI) services. 

With business intelligence tools, a company can receive actionable data on a large spectrum of processes, like pain points throughout operations. Once these kinks in the workflow are identified, they’re much more easily addressed and resolved.

For example, let’s just say that you’ve used BI and the data shows there’s an enormous inefficiency with a worker manually invoicing customers. Maybe it flew under the radar before, but now you know that there’s an issue, and you can implement an RPA solution to automate the task, allowing the worker to focus on more meaningful work while saving you money in the process.

Oftentimes, the problem areas revealed through business intelligence tools are prime candidates for automation, making use of sophisticated software like robotic process automation (RPA)

The result is a more efficient business. While you’ve streamlined a process that was previously causing a bottleneck in your operations, the issue may have gone unnoticed without the insights that business intelligence had offered.

This is one of the defining characteristics of business agility—embracing a culture of innovation that may not always adhere to the status quo but regularly results in updated and streamlined processes, enhanced productivity, and lower operational costs. 

Business Agility Examples From the Real World

We don’t need to look further than our own clients to find an example of business agility used strategically from the real world. 

Let’s take a look at one of our clients, ZMac, as an example of this.

ZMac is a logistics company based in Wisconsin that offers transportation brokering. They sought to establish better business agility by creating an app that would allow them to offer a streamlined process for customers to make orders from.

After their initial provider created a software app that didn’t live up to expectations, they still wanted to rework and revamp the platform from the ground up. Making use of low-code development solutions to deliver an app that was functional, fast, and readily accessible for their prospects and customers, Impact was able to create an app that revolutionized ZMac’s processes.

This is an example of how technology can be leveraged to create a more agile approach to business processes. 

What Does an Agile Business Look Like? 

Business agility, in this sense, goes hand-in-hand with a company culture of innovation. This is because cultures of innovation encourage continual improvement, constant experimentation, and technology adoption. All of these aspects contribute to an organization’s ability to quickly and easily trial new processes, procedures, and tools.

With the ZMac example in mind, let’s review some of the other defining characteristics and trademarks of an agile business. The following sections will cover aspects of business agility like:

  1. The Culture of Agility
  2. Internal and External Agility
  3. Agile Decision-Making 

1. The Culture of Agility

As with virtually anything that involves the implementation of major new practices or processes within an organization, culture is key. Business agility is a guiding philosophy behind a digital transformation strategy, which in and of itself is a disruptive approach to business.

While some employees may feel resistance to change and technology in general, it’s important that business leaders find a way to strike the balance between keeping things familiar while still prioritizing innovation and agility.   

Because internal resistance can flare up, it’s crucial that employees buy into the agility initiatives. This starts at the top. Successfully implementing new technologies or workflows will feel next to impossible without sufficient leadership and employee buy-in.   

Employees who are expected to use new technology, or adhere to new processes are inevitably going to run into questions along the way. With the support of leadership and management, however, these learning curves and growing pains can be conquered together.

A lack of leadership buy-in is one of the most common reasons that digital transformation and other agility initiatives fail.  

"CEOs really need to get behind the transformation. They need to set the tone, they need to model the behaviors for transformation and then they need to operationalize those behaviors.". 

Establishing a culture of innovation and business agility requires buy-in from both the leadership and the staff. However, once in place, organizations will find it much easier to identify opportunities for and implement changes in technology, tools, processes, and workflows.

In sum, to establish a culture of agility, lead from the front, garner employee buy-in, and emphasize the value in learning from failure. 

Statistics on success from business agility examples

2. Internal and External Agility 

There are really two sides to business agility. There’s internal business agility and external. As the names suggest, internal agility refers to an organization’s ability to adopt new processes and technologies into their inward-facing workflows and processes.

For example, internal business agility might look like a marketing team implementing a new metric tracking technology that gives them deeper insights into their target audiences, allowing them to be more direct and personalized with strategic marketing campaigns.  

Meanwhile, the same company might be working with vendors who are having issues with the preexisting invoicing workflow. By listening to the feedback from their partners, an agile business will be able to quickly and effectively address the pain points with which they’re presented.  

On the contrary, an organization that hasn’t established a culture of agility and innovation may be stuck with outdated and ineffective processes for much longer, costing them astronomically in the long run. 

Digital maturity levels across industries

The above image demonstrates the positive correlation between digital business maturity and time. 

3. Agile Decision-Making

One of the biggest aspects of agility is using big data and analytics to help fuel your decision-making. A good example of this would be manufacturing firms dealing with supply chain disruptions.

An agile business can implement solutions which will crawl data and generate reports, predicting disruptions and allowing you to mitigate the damage. Looking at trends, historical data, inconsistencies, and other pertinent market variables gives you the best chance of mitigating disruption in the future, no matter the cause.  

This is a major improvement over gut-feeling-based decision-making and gives agile organizations an advantage over those cemented in their ways. The ability to gauge market disruptions before they occur allows you the ability to stay in front of volatility and mitigate losses.

This is the same for other areas of business too, like using analytics to determine which customer complaints are the most common, allowing you to address them without hesitation.

By using a modern set of business tools and proactively creating a culture of innovation and agility you can establish a set of working processes that are data-driven and allow for quicker and more reliable decision-making. 

Improving Business Agility 

Business agility is a core component of digital transformation and will be a pillar in most modern initiatives. That said, there are a few ways that organizations can start improving their business agility without committing to a full-on digital transformation.

One of the best places to start is with observation. Before launching your own initiatives, observe how other agile businesses approach their operations. As you do, you’ll start to notice that agile organizations share several distinguishing traits.

These traits include learning from and celebrating failure, open and supportive collaboration, and an empowered staff that feels ownership over their role and contributions.

If companies want to become agile, culture is crucial.

Cloud-based solutions are also a popular way through which organizations can pursue better business agility. This is because scaling and growth is also a part of this mentality. With flexible cloud solutions, organizations can very easily increase or decrease the amount of service they require for their current size.

Finally, continual improvement and change management are two areas of emphasis for agile organizations.

Continual improvement is more of a mindset than anything else, but it accounts for a certain drive that employees and leaders bring to the table. Not only that, but by striving for continual improvement, you’ll naturally create processes that have trial and error built into them innately.  

Change management, on the other hand, goes back to the importance of leadership buy-in. Change management is exactly what it sounds like: it establishes support systems and feedback mechanisms that assist employees with changes so they find success, not rage.

The most important element in business agility is having a structure and culture that prioritizes continual improvement, flexibility, and the means for achieving each. 

How Can Businesses Become Agile?

Business agility transformation will be a key consideration for many companies moving forward, especially as the world becomes more digital. That being said, the majority of organizations still may not know how to start imbuing agility into their operations.

Providing the right technology to your staff is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to business agility. The right technology needs to be paired with the right people, appropriate training, proper change management, and a continual improvement mindset within a culture of innovation.

Weaving business agility into your organization will inevitably take time, patience, and a ton of trial and error. However, you can give yourself a head start with an agility audit. This is essentially a review of internal processes and workflows that reveals the most valuable and easiest places to start implementing business agility practices.

By starting with the ”easy” implementations, you’ll increase your initial chance of success regarding business agility, proving the value along the way and getting the ball rolling for future initiatives. 

Wrapping Up on Business Agility

Agile businesses can navigate their way through the volatile and quickly changing market of today by using digital technology and building a culture of innovation to move forward.

Organizations need this agility to simply keep up with the ever-evolving needs and expectations of the modern consumer. Most consumers are already digital natives, meaning they grew up with smart technology like smartphones. Companies stuck using outdated processes and technologies will quickly see themselves fall behind the curve.

As we move forward, and organizations continue to embrace the digital era in their operations, it’s imperative they build and maintain a culture of business agility that will help them face future challenges and industry shifts head-on.

Each company is unique and has its own set of challenges to overcome, especially when working toward digital transformation. Learn how to start your transformation off on the right foot in Impact’s eBook, Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation


Digital TransformationCustomer ExperienceManufacturingBusiness Agility


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