The current highly dynamic business environment requires businesses to be agile. Business agility is the ability to swiftly and easily change businesses and business processes beyond the normal level of flexibility to effectively manage unpredictable external and internal changes. This study reports on a cross-industry analysis of change factors requiring agility and assesses agility gaps that companies are facing in four industry sectors in the Netherlands. A framework was constructed to measure the perceived gaps between the current level of business agility and the required level of business agility. The questionnaire and in-depth interviews held reveal that today's businesses perceive to lack the agility required to quickly respond to changes, whose speed and requirements are difficult to predict. The paper presents rankings of generic and sector-specific agility gaps. These show that although some generic change factors requiring agility exist, the change factors requiring agility that cause agility gaps differ across industry sectors. Among the factors that enable or hinder business agility, the existence of inflexible legacy systems is perceived to be a very important disabler in achieving more business agility. A number of basic principles and directions are discussed to transform Information Technology from barrier into key enabler for increased agility in organizations and business networks.

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European Journal of Information Systems
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Oosterhout, M., Waarts, E., & van Hillegersberg, J. (2006). Change factors requiring agility and implications for IT. European Journal of Information Systems, 15(2), 132–145. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ejis.3000601