Change and Agility, It’s Business and it’s Personal

The media is still talking about the pace of change in the IT Industry, and how businesses are not keeping pace with those changes. The outcome is prognosticated to be doom for the inflexible and less agile.

What is an agile business? An agile business is one that can respond rapidly to changes within its internal and external environment without losing momentum or vision.

To break that down further, what is a business? It is people with a purpose and vision. So as technology continues to change/improve, so must the people that “are the business.” In my experience, the ability to change is a mindset for the business, and in turn its people. If an organization’s leaders are asking the business to be agile, and the people that make up the business do not embrace that agility, the business will not change, at least not quickly or in an “agile” fashion.

So what is the mindset that embraces change? That mindset:

  • shares and maintains focus on the vision
  • is continually looking for ways to improve while maintaining productivity
  • is constantly learning and adding skills/offerings that the market or role demands

The precepts must be shared by all members of the business, leaders and contributors alike.

There is an apt analogy between tennis and businesses agility. It circles around tennis racquet and court technology, and how it has changed the game. (Please keep reading, this really does have a point 🙂 )

All tennis players want to be the best in their sport, or number one in the rankings. To be the best, they must stay fit, be completely comfortable with their skill to use a racquet, and always improve their movement on the court. In the days of slow grass courts and heavy wooden racquets, tennis was a game of endurance, with long rallies where consistency was key. Racquets are now made of strong, light composites and courts are now smoothly covered asphalt or concrete. With those changes, the game is now more about power, the serve and volley, and passing shots. While the players must remain expert with their racquet skills and fitness, they have adapted to stay competitive. They have changed their training programs to build quickness, strength, and power. Just compare Chris Everett to Serena Williams. The game is still tennis, but it is played very differently.

The same is true for IT. The days of grass courts (spinning disks, physical/static workloads) and wooden racquets (manual configuration and provisioning, static networks) are on their way out.  They are being replaced by hard courts (cloud compute/storage, SaaS, virtualization/containerization) and composite racquets (automation, software defined, and API’s). The difference is that we do not have decades or even years to adapt. The move from wooden to composite racquets no longer takes 5 years, it takes 12 months. The IT professionals of today need to change their workout regimens to adapt and stay competitive. We all want to win the US Open, the question is, are we willing to pick up the latest technology and adapt our workouts to master it?


Noel-Barber-11Noel Barber is a veteran of the IT industry and serves as the Vice President of Professional Services at ABS. In addition to staying on top of industry trends and changes, Noel works to ensure ABS continuously brings the best technology solutions to our clients.