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Agile Transformation in the New Reality: Challenges and Opportunities of the VUCA World

What exactly is the VUCA world? What difficulties does it entail, and what new opportunities does it create? How business should adapt to the life in perpetual uncertainty, and which modern tools can be helpful while solving complex tasks? The answers are in this article.

Today, it seems, the word «crisis» has become an ordinary one and doesn’t provoke strong emotions. More and more often, hearing about a new meltdown, we think, «what, again?».

Frequent changes result in constant stress. On the other hand, they force us to look at things from a new perspective and to develop quick wits and necessary skills of responding to the situation flexibly.

A changeable and unstable reality is often being referred to as the VUCA world. This term appeared in the end of 1980s — the beginning of 1990s, but today it is becoming increasingly popular.

Let’s try to figure out what it represents.

What is the VUCA world?

VUCA is short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It paints a picture of the VUCA world — constantly changing and unstable, where the speed of events requires skills of quick information analysis and decision-making.

VUCA reality has replaced the SPOD-world — steady, predictable, ordinary, and definite.

One of the bright examples that demonstrates volatility of our new reality is the pandemic. How could we imagine that we would find ourselves locked in our homes, united by a common fear of an unexplored disease? At that time, everyone experienced stress from the fact that the world literally shook under their feet.

From the other hand, the pandemic revealed the peculiar way of thinking of a modern person accustomed to constant changes. It is awe inspiring how quickly we processed all the information that was updated every day, developed response mechanisms, and adapted our skills and habits.

For business, the pandemic has done what couldn’t have been achieved during such a short period in a calmer environment. It made us look at the office routine in a new light: now we know that we can work from home for a company located in any place in the world, we understand that a roundtable or a conference can be held remotely without loss of efficiency. Documents’ signing is also done online. All of this has become such an integral part of our lives that it is hard to remember how things were organized before 2020.

In the VUCA world, the technologies are developing rapidly. Artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, digital twins could form a basis for a fantastic novel, but today they don’t surprise anyone. Digitalization encompasses more and more processes both in business and in everyday life.

It is obvious that everyone needs to adapt to this new reality, including businesspersons. Many large companies are developing flexible digitalization strategies in order not just to survive, but also to thrive in the current conditions. New management approaches are being developed, such as Lean, Agile, Management 3.0. All of them are united by ideas of flexible response to changes, iterative approach to processes, early delivery of value to the customer, and the priority of each employee’s personality.

Which technologies can help business development in the VUCA world?

In order to maintain the pace and respond promptly to changes, the developers of corporate information systems are ready to offer effective and modern tools for companies of varying scales and industries.

Today business requires systems that can be quickly deployed and adapted and can cover the majority of current tasks. That is why leading managers go to vendors who can offer a pool of ready-to-use solutions with no-code/low-code configuration tools and in-built artificial intelligence (AI). Such software covers the task of business processes digitalization.

The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to close all the issues without a full-scale development and design of a program code. That is why a vendor needs to find a balance between low-code and hard-code.

Organizational agility requires teamwork, because in the world of fast changes not everything can be regulated within the frames of rigid processes. Solutions for group interaction come to the rescue — for example, agile boards that make it possible to look at business processes from above, assess progress, promptly identify and eliminate stop factors. It is also important that modern agile boards are located inside the company’s security circuit, which ensures the safety of corporate information.

When deploying software, the iterative method is used: the technical specification may change during the project, customer and vendor work in constant contact and prototypes are delivered as early as possible to conduct tests and get feedback. All this is fully consistent with the Agile methodology.

Another trend is transfer from monolith information systems to microservices that make deployment easier and facilitate scalability and fault tolerance.

VUCA world: there is no way back

People can have different opinions on the current state of things, but it is important to understand that the VUCA world with its ever-changing dynamics is a reality to which we have to adapt.

Companies unwilling to keep up with the times hardly have chances to succeed in the long term. Today it is more important than ever to keep a finger on a pulse and to act flexibly. There even appeared a new interpretation of the VUCA: vision, understanding, clarity, and agility.

Such concept of the VUCA world gives us an opportunity to look at it differently and to see it not as a threat, but as a platform for creative development. Success will be with those who can use the full potential of the changing reality.