Agility and innovation in the age of digitalisation

In C-level magazine, ipt experts Karin Altorfer and Daniel Albisser talk about what agility and innovation mean to them in the context of digitisation.

Agility - being able to react promptly to changes

Agility is the basic requirement to avoid drowning in the fast moving digital age. It is about being able to react promptly to changes, to adapt the plan when the market or customer behaviour has changed.

Digitalization has greatly increased uncertainty and complexity. Companies are incredibly challenged to keep up with the speed and adapt constantly. And this is exactly what an agile set-up within a company enables.

Digitization is not only a technological change; priorities have also shifted, as Daniel Albisser points out using the example of IT:

«IT used to be the recipient of orders, but today it acts as a business enabler and plays a strategic role. It helps with transformation, differentiation and is therefore critical for survival in the market.»
Daniel Albisser Partner, ipt

The culture and attitude of employees also play an important role in an agile company. This can be summarized in the following three pillars.

3 pillars of the corporate culture of an agile company

  • Customer focus
  • Focus on value creation
  • Values of cooperation according to the agile principles

Innovation - customer-centric and iterative to success

Innovative ideas are about developing them as quickly and customer-centered as possible, validating the business benefits directly in the marketplace and iteratively leading to a finished product or service.

Employees and their attitudes also play a central role in the innovation or innovative power of a company. By taking the factors below into account, innovative strength can be promoted at employee level.

Requirements for promoting innovative strength:

  • Employees need freedom to assume responsibility and learn to think entrepreneurially
  • Spirit of innovation and constant drive for new ideas
  • Employees should be able to act as discoverers and contribute new ideas
  • Trust and space to try something out without being the scapegoat in case of failure

Customer focus - and how it can be lived in the company

Customers are and remain people - even if the interactions take place online. Karin Altorfer also captures this aptly:

«Relationships marked by trust, individual, fair and competent advice and personal esteem are strong elements that should not be lost despite digitalisation.»
Karin Altorfer Associate Partner, ipt

The importance of digital customer interfaces is growing rapidly. For companies like an insurance company that cannot differentiate themselves through products and services, the «added value» offered to the customer and how they interact with the customer along the «customer journey» plays a decisive role - especially digitally. The point is to differentiate oneself through digitalization without treating the customer like an abstract number, to regard the customer as part of the value chain and to actively involve him or her.

In innovation projects, it is therefore advisable to use design thinking or lean startup approaches, as these always focus on customer needs and the current market situation. Solutions are continuously validated by customer feedback in the form of various prototypes. This can also be combined well with agile software development methods such as Scrum, where the customer as product owner has a central function within the project team.

Differentiation through digitalization and innovation
Technologies are the driver for digitisation and innovation. New technological possibilities allow companies to take new ways to meet customer demands and stand out from the crowd.

Or as Karin Altorfer sums it up: «To survive in the digital age, a framework is needed to react to market changes, to make employees think more entrepreneurially and to strengthen customer focus and innovative strength.»

Read the entire interview by our two experts Karin Altorfer and Daniel Albisser published in C-level magazine 4|2018.