Enterprise Agility

Issue link: https://raconteur.uberflip.com/i/584802

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 19

T hese are some of the most ex- citing and challenging times to run a business because the pace of change has never been quicker thanks to new technology and global communications. Business leaders need to be more nimble to cope with this fast-moving world of constant evolution. The con - sulting firm Deloitte found that 83 per cent of businesses plan to adopt more agile methods. They must think ahead, keep innovat - ing and, if things go wrong, be willing to change direction or shut down an un- der-performing unit. That means run- ning a flexible organisation that is open to collaboration with other companies and embraces technology. "Try fast, fail fast" is the mantra in Silicon Valley. Or as Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising group WPP, warns: "You have to be prepared to cannibalise parts of your operation, so I believe in eating your own children." Few companies are comfortable with cannibalising themselves to survive, but spectacular failures, such as that of Kodak, the photographic film company that was too slow to embrace the rise of digital technology, have served as a sal - utary warning. By contrast, Steve Jobs' final decade of leadership at Apple and his decision in 2005 to develop the iPhone is widely regarded as a masterclass in how an es - tablished business can be more agile. First, he showed strategic nous and responded quickly when he correctly identified a threat to his business. At the time, the iPod portable music player was Apple's best seller, responsible for 45 per cent of company turnover, yet he foresaw that "the device that can eat our lunch is the cell phone", according to his biographer Walter Isaacson. Second, Jobs was willing to work with a partner – in this case, the mobile phone manufacturer Motorola – be - cause he knew Apple, a computer com- pany, didn't have all the nec- essary know-how inside the organisation. However, when that partnership failed to pro- duce results by the end of 2005, he split from Motorola and pivoted by focusing on his in-house team. Third, he fostered a dynamic working environment within Apple that encour - aged the iPhone project management team to be radical by dispensing with a separate keyboard, which was used by Nokia and BlackBerry, the dominant mobile manufacturers at the time, in favour of a touchscreen. The iPhone launched in 2007 and became the best-selling device in Ap - ple's history, smashing sales and profit records. By the third quarter of 2015, iPhone represented more than 63 per cent of Apple's sales and iPod was barely 1 per cent. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is an - other business leader who has shown remarkable agility in terms of vision, strategic responsiveness and organisa- tional flexibility. In early-2012, his social media company was about to float on the Nasdaq stock ex- change in a stunning $100-billion debut, yet Zuckerberg was smart enough to see beyond the Wall Street hype. He spotted threats on multiple fronts as Facebook was relying on desktop computers for advertising revenue and had no mobile business, just as rival app upstarts Insta - gram and WhatsApp were emerging. Zuckerberg pivoted, ramping up Face- book's mobile business so that it was worth 23 per cent of group revenues within 12 months, and buying first Insta- gram and then WhatsApp. In a further sign of his shrewd judg- ment, he let Instagram and WhatsApp remain as separate businesses within the group, so that their founders could main- tain a nimble, startup mentality. Zuckerberg's strategy has paid off handsomely as Instagram has overtaken Twitter to hit 400 mil - lion users and WhatsApp has passed 900 million. Both acquisitions are examples of how staying agile has maximised produc- tivity and competitive advantage for their parent company. Being agile is harder for a legacy business because, to return to the Sor- rell analogy, it can mean "eating your own children". In the case of Auto Trader, a weekly print magazine full of second-hand car classified advertisements, reinventing itself for the digital age was a huge test. However, investing early in online and then pivoting to launch apps worked. Auto Trader kept the print magazine going until 2013, almost as a marketing tool in the end, and then floated the wholly digital business for £2.5 billion. It is a rare example of a market-leading legacy business retaining its pre-emi - nent position online. In contrast, dig- ital upstarts, such as Rightmove, the property website, or LinkedIn for jobs, have usurped legacy businesses in other sectors. There must be no room for compla - cency as BlackBerry and Nokia's fall from grace has shown. An agile employer has to change its workplace culturally to attract employ - ees too. Millennials, those born after 1983, expect flexible or remote working, and the ability to choose their own de- vices and software. Staying agile is essential as the tech revolution has much further to run while the mobile internet and powerful cloud-computing become ubiquitous. Staying agile is essential for business survival In an ever-faster business world, organisations must stay agile, always ready to adapt to changing times and increasing demands OVERVIEW GIDEON SPANIER Distributed in Published in association with STEPHEN ARMSTRONG Contributor to The Sunday Times, Monocle, Wallpa- per* and GQ, he is also an occasional broadcaster on BBC Radio. NIC FILDES Technology and communi- cations editor at The Times, he was formerly with The Independent and Dow Jones Newswires. ALEC MARSH Writer and award-winning editor, he contributes to The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Mail and The Spectator. DAN MATTHEWS Journalist and author of The New Rules of Business, he writes for newspapers, magazines and websites on a range of issues. CHARLES ORTON-JONES Award-winning journalist, he was editor-at-large of LondonlovesBusiness.com and editor of EuroBusiness. RAYMOND SNODDY Writer and broadcaster, he was media editor at The Times and Financial Times, and presented BBC TV's Newswatch. GIDEON SPANIER Journalist and commenta- tor on business and the me- dia, he is chairman of the Broadcasting Press Guild. RACONTEUR CONTRIBUTORS Publishing Manager Richard Hadler Digital and Social Manager Rebecca McCormick Head of Production Natalia Rosek Design Vjay Lad Grant Chapman Kellie Jerrard Production Editor Benjamin Chiou Managing Editor Peter Archer BUSINESS CULTURE FINANCE HEALTHCARE LIFESTYLE SUSTAINABILITY TECHNOLOGY INFOGRAPHICS Although this publication is funded through advertising and sponsorship, all editorial is without bias and sponsored features are clearly labelled. For an upcoming schedule, partnership inquiries or feedback, please call +44 (0)20 3428 5230 or e-mail info@raconteur.net Raconteur is a leading publisher of special-interest content and research. Its publications and articles cover a wide range of topics, including business, finance, sustainability, healthcare, lifestyle and technology. Raconteur special reports are published exclusively in The Times and The Sunday Times as well as online at raconteur.net The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the Proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior consent of the Publisher. © Raconteur Media raconteur.net/enterprise-agility Staying agile is essential as the tech revolution has much further to run while the mobile internet and powerful cloud-computing become ubiquitous Apple chief executive Steve Jobs holding the first iPhone in January 2007 ENTERPRISE AGILITY | 03 RACONTEUR | 13 / 10 / 2015 raconteur.net

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Raconteur - Enterprise Agility