IT agility is all about reconfiguring or replacing your information technology systems when new marketplace realities change the way you have to do business. While most studies generically interpret IT agility as the ability to respond to changes in the external environment through appropriate internal adjustments, they implicitly refer to one (or more) of two evaluation criteria to gauge whether a firm possesses this ability. They consider either the extent to which an organization can respond to changes in the external environment – its range of agility – or to the time required to execute this response. Let’s take each type in turn.
Range-agility This represents an organization’s ability to broaden (or shrink) specific aspects of its capabilities. They include increasing or decreasing the repertoire of products and/or services offered to the market, or expanding or shrinking internal capabilities in manufacturing, services or processes. Adjustments in range can be accomplished by exercising options available internally (for example, better integration in processes or strategic business units), and externally (for example, via alliances and partnerships).
Time-agility The speed of response, that is, the time it takes to retool one’s IT capabilities, is also important to think about. For example, some assert that IT infrastructures are considered to be critical in facilitating quick dissemination of new information and practices, especially in high velocity environments. However, such infrastructures themselves are often rigid and suffer from low time-agility; in particular, some researchers have wisely noted that legacy constraints (all the technology your company already has and uses) make it difficult for many organizations to make quick changes to their IT infrastructures.
Read full article by Sengupta and Massini (Business Strategy Review)