Agility is a measure of how quickly, cheaply and easily you can change the way you take a decision within your systems and organizational infrastructure. For example, if you want to introduce a new cross-sell strategy or a new pricing structure, how easy is it to change the systems specifications that support those decision strategies? How quickly would someone interacting with your organization notice that you had changed the way you wanted to make a decision? Agility should measure the total time and cost from having the data that means you should change your decision process to actually effecting such a change - the decision latency (which I discuss here)
Business agility is also about strategic alignment - you must be able to change the way your organization behaves more quickly than ever before. You need to be able to respond to competitive pressures, regulations, legal rulings, product introductions and more. Communicating and supporting both strategic and tactical course corrections organization-wide is a competitive requirement, not an option. The growth in real-time or right-time business intelligence systems means that organizations have more visibility into how well (or poorly) they are doing than ever before. Yet if they are to respond effectively to this new understanding, then delivering new processes, skills and expertise rapidly to front-line workers and information systems is essential. The time it takes to update these operational activities is likely to be the key factor in how fast an organization can respond – the determinant of its business agility. If your analysis of last week’s sales shows that a competitor is eating into your sales and you decide that a new pricing model is required, how long it takes to implement that pricing model in your call center system, your website, your stores or the systems your agents use will determine how quickly you can respond.
An EDM approach would ensure that the way you make pricing decisions was automated once, consistently across all these channels and would mean you only had one place to go to make a change. Further that place would be implemented so as to make the change easy. An EDM approach would ensure your systems had the agility they need and were not the bottleneck for a change in strategic direction.