Organizations continue to face ever greater challenges caused by the explosion in digital technologies. In particular the speed of business and technological change is relentless, while customer expectations are higher than ever. In a recent article for CEO Magazine, I argued that nearshore Agile innovation represents a powerful proposition to organizations during this time of digital disruption. In the first of this two part blog series, I outline why nearshore Agile innovation is now so important. In the second post I will provide guidance on creating your own innovation team.
Digital Expectations Challenge Organizations To Their Core
Digital technology has transformed the perception of value. Expectations are higher than ever before, as customers seek personalized, always-on services regardless of location, activity, or even device. But at the same time there is a disjuncture between customer expectations, and the ability of organizations to satisfy, let alone exceed, them. All of this is exacerbated by the increasing speed of business.
To give a sense of this speed of change, in less than 24 hours after Apple released iOS 8, 20% adoption was achieved – this was actually slower than for iOS 7, where 38% of users downloaded it inside 24 hours. Amazon makes software changes every 11 seconds, meaning it can respond in magnitudes faster than competitors to changes in business conditions. Outside of the technology industry, digitally native organizations are causing upheaval in a broad variety of industries with their nimbleness and ability to move rapidly. Tesla for example can immediately deliver updates and repairs to its cars via the internet.
The question is, do you have the capabilities to respond that quickly? And if you do, do you simultaneously have the ability to develop and prototype new, creative ideas, or are you constantly on the back foot responding to changes as they happen?
The solution for many companies is look to the powerful combination of Agile software development and working with nearshore partners.
Creativity And Real-Time Innovation Drives Interest In Nearshore Agile
In PWC´s 2015 survey of 1,300 global CEOs 81% stated they are looking for a broader range of skills than in the past. Meanwhile the same survey found that access to new and emerging technologies was the number one reason to look for partners. It is this powerful amalgamation of the need for talent and finding the appropriate technical expertise that is driving companies to work with a broader array of partners.
At the same time there is a related dynamic at play. Agile programming, for the uninitiated, is where small teams work closely together to produce a working prototype in two to three week “sprints”. The emphasis is on delivering the most critical requirements first, and iteratively improving the product over a series of sprints. In a world where lowering time to market is a critical business priority in almost every industry, the allure and promise of Agile is clear to see. Meanwhile taking an iterative approach means there is a framework for incorporating stakeholder and customer feedback, and if necessary changing direction during the product development process.
So we have two dynamics at play: an increasing need to partner for talent and capabilities; and a shift towards real-time, iterative and collaborative product development. Nearshore partners, located in a similar or close timezone, provide one solution. While companies may choose to develop everything in-house, they will face challenges in finding the appropriate skills and capabilities to keep up with rapid technological change and simultaneous business demands for faster time to market. As a result, in other situations, companies will look for partners.
Agile Nearshore Innovation In Action
One of our most recent experiences was with a leading mobile financial services organization which was looking to develop new ways for customers to access their cash from an ATM. The result was the development of a mobile application which could be used instead of a credit or debit card to quickly access cash – so-called “cardless cash”. This creative concept was developed via close collaboration with a nearshore development team. The teams utilized two week iterative cycles, to ensure the development team could take into account quick and immediate stakeholder feedback. The result was increased customer convenience (the time it took for customers to receive cash went from 40 seconds to 10 seconds) and increased security (by lowering the risk of the skimming of credit cards).
In my next post I will provide guidance on creating your own nearshore Agile innovation team.