|This white paper describes what is business agility, how it can be improved using IT Agility and role of Cloud computing on IT and business agility. “Agility typically refers to the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways and meet customer demands by adjusting to the changes in a business environment by taking advantage of available resources”. Here, the word “resources” carries significant importance as it indicates what can change the entire game in organizations operations. Agility and competitiveness goes hand in hand and is key factor in success of any business. As an Organization, who does not believe in agility is supposed to be leaping towards the obsoleteness and will be out of business in no time. Consider below 6 attributes which majorly influence the business agility in typical case.
An Organization can acquire agility by institutionalizing above 6 pillars in every possible business function of it. And IT is considered as one of the most important strategic business function of modern industry. IT becoming agile adds higher percentage of agility to overall organization. In this paper we will try to understand how IT agility impacts business agility. We will discuss this in the context of Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud computing as a platform to make your IT more agile, cost effective, efficient and flexible.
Focus on Time to value:
There is an almost obsessive focus on getting new products/services/features to market as soon as possible. This enables a shorter feedback cycle and, equally importantly, a quicker timeframe to earn a return on the investment made. One can influence the market and competitor with this attribute.
Always look for better way of doing things using latest and better technologies. This is considered as the most significant attribute and can impact to larger extent on enterprise’s success.
Flexibility: Flexible processes and options
This is where a lot of businesses (particularly larger enterprises) find it very difficult to move quickly to exploit new opportunities. The more each business process is intertwined (coupled) with others, the harder it is to implement change quickly.
Low Latency: Faster decision making
The quicker a decision can be acted upon, the sooner the business knows whether the decision was right and what else needs to be done to achieve the underlying goal.
Economic efficiency: Cost effective processes and resource leverage
A lazy, bureaucratic organization will protect its turf at the cost of progress and innovation. Lean operations that minimize waste have the added incentive of promoting new and innovative ways of doing things, and being able to implement them quickly.
This component really refers to the mindset of continual monitoring of, and adaptation to, changing market conditions. It is the ultimate feedback mechanism that ensures the product/service offering is continually refined to best meet the needs/constraints of customers, suppliers and partners.
Business Requirements and solutions
Company Profile for the Case study:
Dream medico equipment’s is public limited company having 2000 employees with annual revenue of $600 million. Company primarily manufactures innovative medical devices for customers around the globe which are majorly hospitals, pathologies spanning public, private and military sectors. Company has captured good market in America, Europe and Asia and is also planning to develop low cost medical devices/Products for personal use at home. Company has got many market competitors selling products at aggressive rates and providing good quality support services. As of now, IT department which manages all the application ecosystem on-premises including core JD Edwards ERP product. Through its lifespan company tries to solve above mentioned problems to be more agile and competitive. Let us see how IT agility will help company in achieving certain goals.
Problem statement: Dream medico equipment’s has been reviewing its revenue growth since last two quarters and it was found that it is satisfactory. However, company management thinks that if they focus more on possible growth areas they can increase revenues further.
Company higher management decides to be little aggressive in introducing new products in the market which was supposed to be launched one quarter later under personal use product category.
Company wants to prelaunch few innovative products with attractive price portfolio and sees how market responds to it. Company wants to book good amount of business during pre-launch offer and collect feedback about the sample products and Product specifications in accordance with prices quoted. Also customer, partners and vendors may provide feedback in terms of few new features they want to see in the products or entirely few new product ideas may take birth.
Dream medico equipment’s CEO calls for a meeting with other executives to decide on feasibility to conduct prelaunch event in months’ time and seek if one month is sufficient for the preparation. CEO explains significance of this prelaunch offer for forthcoming projects in terms of below benefits –
Sales Head explain about the possible sales channels for Product promotion and accepting prelaunch orders. He wants to open up multiple sales channels to promote the product.
Business head explains which products to be launched with which features. Since this event will be driven and owned by business. Business head has determined some budget for it, when he discloses the budget and the date for the event which is just one month away. Other executives are not happy with available time, required preparations and budget which is they feel is very constrained.
Business head reiterates the significance of this event and also explains why there is definite budget available, he explains – “Since this event can empower our revenue growth, event has significance in time which cannot be postponed. Since this is just a onetime event and not an ongoing activity there cannot be more budget available for this. Also if products are not received well by customer, all these expenses will become waste and also it may impact on company brand in the market, so management doesn’t want to spend very big numbers for this event.”
As usual, IT head was under pressure to provide the required support for this business initiative. After further discussions with business, marketing and sales team, it was decided to build below systems for specific purposes.
Major challenges in front of IT manager are –
1. Development of –
2. Manage high traffic demands on all of above sites
3. Provision hardware, network and software resources in available time and available budget
4. Delays in procurement of resources(hardware, software)
5. Keeping total cost of ownership low, avoid upfront investment as resources are not needed for ever
6. Look for some innovative way of achieving all these challenges to serve such requests in future
During this analysis, IT head and Manager decides to take a next step and concludes to select Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud Platform as a future platform not investing any more in on-premise data center.
The first challenge of budget limitation is addressed by choosing Windows Azure platform.
Manage Business in Peak Period
Major challenge in managing business in this period was lack of information on potential load or unpredictable nature of traffic spike. Team needed really dynamic scalable solution to auto adjust the server resources per actual traffic need.
Azure Platform inherently supports scalability and elasticity in cost effective manner. Team implemented auto scaling solution to increase number of servers as load increased and decrease number of servers during low traffic time. All this process can be done automatically without manual intervention.
Company could reduce lead time completely by providing adequate number of resources required for the event resulting in best user experience and successful sales trial.
Response to Risk
With the help of Windows Azure technology, IT department could deal with Business and IT risks in below way-
Thus, IT agility could help manage business risk effectively.
Low Cost Reporting Solution
Development of reporting site was done with least amount time by developing few reports using SQL Server Reporting services feature. Team needed web server to deploy the reports on-premises, which was time consuming process to get. Team used SQL Azure Reporting services for report deployment which is charged per number of reports, which also eliminated the need of buying SQL Server license. After the event, reports will be removed from the SQL Azure Reporting service server stopping getting charged further.
Sales team Mobility
For Tablet application development, Windows Azure Mobile Services proved to be accelerator where team just designed a database and platform automatically creates required template web services and sample client mobile application specific to platform such as windows Phone, IPad/IPhone etc. Team could save considerable time in development and testing phase, Team did not experience any environment differences (Production/Staging) and effort wastage cause of it. Team could gain required scalability in no time when needed.
Sales – Distributor Connect
Anticipating high load on Sales-Distributor portal, entire portal was moved to Azure platform. Team used IaaS feature of platform by provisioning Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtual machine and another virtual machine with SQL Server 2008 R2. Since this portal was built for scalability, team could scale this portal on multiple web servers in load balanced manner which is implicitly available in Azure platform. Team need not bought O.S or SQL Server licenses for this migration which is already considered by the platform in per hour pricing.
Friends ! I hope this helps