In our current business agility thought leadership series, we are trying to be pretty vendor-neutral. But at some point, you know we have to pay the light bill, right? So we are going to talk a little bit now about our approach to business agility, but we will do it by posing a question.
Do you think business agility is a strength for IFS and IFS Applications? This is an important question because when a business wraps its arms around a topic as tightly as we have around the concept of business agility and agile enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, we had darned well better deliver.
Consider what happens when a company really commits to something and then fails to deliver. In classical marketing, perhaps one of the best examples is the mega-retailer Sears. In 1988, Sears was struggling against competitors that positioned on price, including the low-price retailer, WalMart. So what did Sears do? Much of Sears’ revenue stemmed from items that were temporarily on sale. So they announced a new everyday low pricing strategy, putting them into direct competition with Walmart. The chain shuttered its doors to reopen them, revealing the new pricing across the board. This might have been a questionable enough move from a brand strategy standpoint, but it only got worse once customers re-entered the showroom.
The lesson we take from this is that when you tout a dramatic shift in direction, among fanfare and publicity, you had better deliver.
And yes, IFS at one point effected a dramatic change in direction, breaking up its monolithic software architecture into an agile, service-oriented architecture. This allows changes to the product and to individual customer installations of IFS Applications with less business disruption and cost.
This was indeed a significant change for IFS, similar in scale to when Sears announced its everyday low price strategy. The difference is that we made this announcement way back in 1994, making us among the first enterprise software vendors to go this route. So today, we have built up a long track record since the announcement. Not only do we talk the agility talk. The casual observer can see for themselves if we walk the business agility walk.
In this most recent whitepaper, “Becoming a Truly Flexible Business,” we seek to offer proof of the fact that we have been, and continue to be, serious about business agility. Specifically, we cite some customer successes. In the rest of the whitepaper series, you can see how we go about delivering these successes. It has to do with more than our approach to SOA. It has to do with our philosophy as a company, our sales approach and our implementation methodology.
But just as was the case for Sears decades ago, what we say makes little difference. So please — download the whitepaper, read it, and tell us what you think. Do we walk the walk or just talk the talk?