Creating agile organisations with tech solutions

Tue, 02 Nov, 2021

If there’s a catch phrase in the business world these days besides ‘digital transformation’ or ‘digital disruption’, it’s ‘going agile’. And it is no accident that these concepts are inter-related.

Agility refers to a new way of working and behaving that enables an organisation to survive and compete in today’s business environment. Agile organisations, usually found in the technology sector, are those that are able to deliver projects more efficiently and are able to offer greater value to both internal and external stakeholders. Those that have achieved a certain measure of agility are more adaptable to constant change and volatility, enabling them to implement corrective measures accordingly to move the company past challenges and crises, as well be able to leverage opportunities for growth and sustainability.

In an agile organisation, there is a lot of emphasis on collaboration, flexibility and customer-focus — ways of working that can be enabled to a great extent by technology and digital transformation.

This was especially brought to the fore when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded and wreaked havoc on the business sector, as well as on our entire way of life. It became a litmus test for many businesses on how quickly they can adapt to unexpected market changes. The situation has, for many organisations, accelerated digital transformation, which is paving the way for agility and better decision-making.

Tech as a strategic tool

Advancements in machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and robotics are among the many technologies disrupting business processes these days and are at the core of serious attempts to achieve agility. Organisations looking to become more agile must constantly explore how these technologies will impact their business, and how to use them strategically to gain a competitive advantage. A wait-and-see attitude is no longer an option, given the current business landscape.

At DAMAC, we have implemented a series of IT and data transformation initiatives in consultation with leading global consultants and data architects to achieve agility, gain deeper business insights and, therefore, greater operating efficiencies.

We have recently migrated from On-prem SQL server to the Azure Synapse which has allowed us to reduce internal data requests from some of our data users to 1/3 of the original time. This ensures our data architecture is scalable and is able to handle the ever-growing volume of our data and new data sources. In addition, we have managed to achieve zero downtime in our data processing capabilities, which allows us to allow data users to consume data 24/7 without disruption.

This technology has allowed us to implement “data as a service” capabilities and our data users can access data outside of our networks anytime and anywhere. It allowed us to reduce data latency, so that our data gets refreshed every hour instead of once a day and allows us to achieve near real-time data processing capabilities.

Robust architecture

With this robust architecture, we have reduced dependency on our production source systems and data is being consumed from our “data as a service” layer instead of our production systems, as in the past. Whereas before, heavy internal data requests would slow down systems, this new technology has made it so there are no disruptions to the speed of the systems.

Real-time visibility into data is an important characteristic of an agile organisation. Decision-makers cannot afford to review a report based on information that is a month, or even a week-old. Enabling real-time data capabilities will lead to quicker and better decision-making.

Looking into our own infrastructure, our Azure Synapse Data ingestion framework has helped standardise our development pipelines and ensure that the whole team is using the same standards in development. It allows us to analyse and optimise data processing times and ensure we can proactively see any degradation in the processing time. In the future, it will help provide visibility to our data users on when data was last loaded and, if it’s still being processed, what is the expected completion time. 

In embracing digital transformation to achieve agility, organisations need to look beyond today and ensure that any technology they implement will work in the future. This way, they can respond with agility and confidence to any challenges and remain competitive and connect with employees and customers, as well as the community to ensure continued growth moving forward.

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