Agile organisations perform better

  • Trends and Research
  • Solutions
  • Cybersecurity and Risk
  • Philip Carter
  • 2020
10 December 2020

Agile organisations perform better

In a fast-moving world where VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) is becoming the norm, organisations must be agile to survive, thrive and rise above competitors. Recent IDC research shows agile organisations outperforming non-agile organisations across several key indicators central to delivering on C-suite agendas. 

Our IDC Agility Benchmark Survey includes responses from 873 large European enterprises and was conducted between September and October 2020. While 93% of agile organisations reported growing profits over the 3Q19 – 2Q20 time frame, only 68% of static organisations reported the same. Equally, agile organisations perform better across several core performance areas and are better able to:

  • Protect revenues with existing customers and attract new ones.

  • Attract and retain critical talent. 

  • Accelerate new business models and new solutions development.

  • Capitalise on targeted growth opportunities. 

Unlocking agility requires fundamental shifts 

Although the need for more agility is now clearer than ever, there is also the realisation that a whole journey lies ahead. IDC defines two characteristics that underpin agility, speed and adaptability. Embedding these in the organisational DNA allows organisations to quickly pivot strategy, talent, processes, portfolio and technology architecture towards changing needs. 

Yet, the journey is not an easy one. The path to agility will require some relevant shifts across these five dimensions:

  • From reactive leadership, with fixed and yearly strategy and budgeting processes, to rapid decision cycles to quickly ramp or sunset initiatives as needed.

  • From a hierarchical, siloed, command-and-control organisational structure to a "team of teams" fluid, self-forming structure, which allows to continuously tap into the required talent and skills.

  • From siloed manual processes, where bottlenecks and duplication lead to inefficiencies, to adaptive, integrated and end-to-end digitised processes.

  • From a static product portfolio, where innovation is bureaucratic and top-down, to rapid experimentation and "fail fast" approaches with feedback loops from the ecosystem.

  • From a static technology infrastructure tied to legacy systems towards operating as a digital platform, leveraging enterprise real-time data 

The five steps leaders should take to become more agile

  1. To know where to go, you need to know where you are

Often organisations overestimate their agility. More than half of European organisations consider themselves very or extremely agile. In contrast, a closer look at the underlying dimension of agility reveals that only 21% of organisations are ahead in their agility journey. Overcoming this misperception and understanding how to move forward will require a careful assessment of where your organisation is today on the agility evolution curve, as well as the ability to benchmark yourself against industry peers. This will provide a clear representation of the starting point, as well as where the end goal is, and enable you to track progress.

      2. Benchmark yourself 

Benchmark your agility maturity to the five pillars (leadership, structure, process, portfolio and technology architecture).  This will provide a clear map of areas that need improvement. For each pillar, IDC has also identified "agility tips", practical steps that can help organisations accelerate their path to agility.

     3. Build an agility compass

Each organisation will need to define its own roadmap towards organisational maturity and strength on the key agility dimensions. The roadmap should address current capabilities, challenges and priorities. Setting up an internal pilot project to drive changes in the organisation can help you test the approach and get internal buy-in and share best practices for scaling.  

    4. Keep running in the "Red Queen's race"

As Lewis Carroll said, "it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that." Agility is not a safe spot to reach but rather a continual process of improvement. 

     5. Use the whole orchestra 

Agility is a team sport. Make sure all levels of your organisation understand the benefits of agility. Your entire C-suite should be pulling in the same direction. All employees should be empowered to drive change proactively. Nurture a culture of innovation to drive entrepreneurial behaviour and continuously seek out new opportunities. Develop an incentive structure that is aligned with the new expectations to drive culture change across the organisation. 

Start benchmarking yourself today and get personalised tips to progress along your journey here. 

To learn more on the key traits of an agile organisation, the five dimensions of agility and the agility evolution stages, please follow this link.  


© 2020 ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved. ServiceNow, the ServiceNow logo, Now and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other company names, product names and logos may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.


  • Knowledge 2023 takeaways: a group of women raising their hands
    4 takeaways from Knowledge 2023
    Knowledge 2023 united thousands of ServiceNow customers and colleagues at the first single global user conference in three years. Here are four key takeaways.
  • Connected ecosystem: man in a coffee shop looking at a smartphone in front of an open laptop
    Customer Experience
    Transformation Done Wright: The connected ecosystem
    What’s the secret to solving customer issues fast while cutting costs for your business? Tapping into a connected ecosystem.
  • What is CX versus UX?
    Customer Experience
    What is CX versus UX?
    Although customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) are related, they’re different. Find out how they complement each other.

Trends & Research

  • Digital innovation: three workers looking at a computer monitor.
    AI and Automation
    Survey says digital innovation is the way to navigate macro uncertainty
  • COVID-19 has prompted creative solutions to keep the enterprise running
    Employee Experience
    COVID-19 has prompted creative solutions to keep the enterprise running
  • Why human-centric metrics are essential to business agility
    Cybersecurity and Risk
    Why human-centric metrics are essential to business agility