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Scalagility - leadership in the digital era

In 2010, to set up a payment solution for an internet company was a terribly slow and cumbersome process. The whole system was based on decades old technology and involved many parties. Patrick and John Collison, brothers from rural Ireland, spotted the business problem and offered an online solution (Stripe Inc.). The API of their payment platform would allow businesses to instantly (as opposed to several weeks) connect to credit cards and banking systems, and receive payments. The company now handles tens of billions of dollars in internet transactions annually, making money  by  charging a small fee on each one. This has given Stripe a 23 billion valuation in February 2019.

This  story  illustrates  the  changing  world  we  now  are  doing  business  in.  A  world  where market positions  vanish fast  and  whole industries  are on the  verge  of  bankruptcy.  As Gary Hamel puts it in his book The Future of Management,  and  as the story  above illustrates:

  • The  barrier of entry to markets has never been lower, because of deregulations and technologies. Companies  are  now  exposed to Stripe like emerging competitors who are very agile, and who aggressively tackle unaddressed  business problems with very low resource costs.
  • Platform strategy leverages the internet capabilities to offer a formidable disintermediation (removing the middle man) between consumers and service providers.
  • Strategy lifecycle has been tremendously shortened and the competitive landscape is changing faster than ever.

Hamel also emphasizes  the fact that customers and employees have never been so well informed thanks to the volume of information easily navigable on the internet: this is another important reason why agility at scale, addressing both issues, is so important today.

This  echoes with Sopra Steria's Digital Transformation book  #1, describing the complex business world, presenting  some clear, new imperatives to companies:

  1. Speed to quickly deliver the product and services expected by the market;
  2. Openness to see opportunities in rapidly changing market conditions;
  3. Operational excellence to deliver the right product at the right time, to the right target;
  4. The enjoyment to tackle new challenges and ways of working.
In our experience, the best way to start answering these requirements is to start implementing an agile approach, and then scaling this approach across the entire organisation.

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Scalagility – leadership in the digital era