There will always be a need for business agility -- to deal with
mergers, more customers, fewer customers, new product lines, unforeseen
international events . . . just about anything, anytime.
It’s a dynamic world. Factors that affect companies change constantly and defining
what is necessary to keep a business agile, for which HP already has an excellent
reputation, is difficult. Researchers at HP Laboratories are investigating methods
to make the analysis of a business’s agility requirements yet more accurate in
The researchers -- Chris Tofts, Richard Taylor and Mike Yearworth,
all of HP Labs Bristol – are looking into rigorous mathematical
techniques that will lead to more accurate definitions of business
agility in the years to come.
Tofts, a Labs principal consultant, mathematician and expert
in business-modeling techniques, is speaking at an EEMA (the independent
European association for e-business) conference
on adaptive IT, on June 23 in London.
In his talk, Developing
a Business Case for IT: Justifying the Return on IT Investment,
he explains the thinking behind the group’s
"For any company, agility is important; it’s like having
insurance to enable them to adapt to changing business needs. But
it has to be the right level of agility," says Tofts.
Companies need the business agility solutions that best suit their
requirements. A construction company, say, which has fairly predictable
variations, year in, year out, may not need to invest in the same
level of business agility as, for instance, a financial services
firm that has to adjust to volatile markets, or a retailer that
attracts many new customers through marketing campaigns. After
all, higher levels of business agility require more robust and
complex IT systems, and that costs.
"If your house is built on the side of a mountain you are
likely to need insurance against wind damage but you don’t need
to insure against flooding: you opt for appropriate cover. Our
aim is to develop agility assessments that are more accurate than
exist today and which can take account of higher levels of complexity,"
His talk at the EEMA conference includes an outline
of return on investment in IT -- how to calculate a return on agility.
This is centered on what a client company needs in terms of IT,
where in its business it needs to focus on agility and what these
capabilities are worth: What are the costs and what are the benefits.
According to Tofts it is relatively easy to work out the costs
to a customer of IT but much harder to quantify the benefits.
There is a need, he says, for customers to understand what their
business actually needs in terms of IT and agility.
HP is strongly
represented at the EEMA conference: HP software vice-president
Peter Vanderfluit is giving the keynote address; Ian Curtis,
director of UK enterprise marketing, hosts a vendor panel; and
HP will also be running a tutorial on Adaptive IT and enterprise.
HP is a platinum sponsor of the conference.