Flexibility and the ability to adapt are among the most important attributes for both the individual and the collective. This is the case for the best sports teams and individual athletes, to rock bands to Government administration and even military tactics. In fact, you could argue that flexibility is essential to success in just about anything.

Flexibility is certainly a requirement in business, and today more so than ever. The economy is changing and the once untouchable giants of business are being pegged back by a new breed of company that seems to be born and fully realised overnight – take Facebook and Instagram for example. Nor do you have to look that far for once great brands that have failed to adapt and have subsequently fallen. Kodak, Blockbuster, Blackberry all failed to move with the changing tides in their respective industries and paid the price.

In most cases, this need to adapt is brought on by innovations in technology. In the 1970s, Firestone – a leading brand in the US tyre industry – was overtaken as market leader by Michelin, a French competitor, who took advantage of a breakthrough in design in tyre manufacturing. Look too at Blockbuster’s failure to adapt to the new business model implemented by Netflix. In both these examples, it wasn’t the surprise of the new design or business model – both Blockbuster and Firestone were aware of the changes afoot – it was their failure to adapt to the changes that did the damage.

Leading from the front

The adaptability of a business comes directly from its leadership. It’s vital that as a company your CEO has the ability to see the business holistically and can, to the best of her ability, project the trends that are coming down the line.

One of those trends in recent times is the changing customer landscape, brought on by the ever-increasing speed of technology and innovation. Let’s face it, IT decisions within a business are now more crucial to the overall function of the company than ever. And consequently the decision makers are not confined only to the IT department in the way they once were. Line of business leaders typically have a hand in deciding what tools and solutions they feel they need to incorporate to get the most from their employees.

More and more, small businesses are leveraging the power of the cloud to punch above their weight and be competitive with the long-established giants in their field task management tool. Consequently, business leaders need to be more flexible than ever. The competition is greater, regulations are stricter, and unpredictable events are always around the corner.

The cloud is a major player in this increasingly competitive market. By allowing organisations to outsource their computer power to third party servers, businesses can dramatically cut hardware and infrastructure costs and start building their business almost straight away – without any need for major spending on servers. And the cloud is both increasing competition and enabling businesses to work in a smarter, flexible and more efficient way. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity environment, for example, enables your organisation to do the following:

• To scale up and down as you need to
• To integrate new apps when you need them most
• To provide employees with the right tools all in one place

Most business leaders’ goals revolve around ensuring long-term growth in unpredictable markets, and their IT decisions are typically based on the potential ROI. But to get the best ROI for any IT solution, speed of deployment and user adoption are crucial to its success. Ease of use and a great user experience are all important for harbouring good adoption levels and making a decision like moving to the cloud pay off.

Using history to take advantage of the future

We can see from our above examples that failure to implement a competent strategy as our industries change can be the death knell for a lot of companies. On the other hand, successfully predicting trends and acting quickly can have tremendous results. Yet unless you are clairvoyant, the ability to predict the future isn’t something you should rely on. So, a strategy that has flexibility at its core is essential for your organisation’s success. And central to that strategy should be your adoption of the cloud. Office 365’s cloud-based, Software as a Service platform is designed with flexibility as a core pillar and enables you to:

Pay as you go

Bought and paid for on a monthly subscription basis, Office 365 enables your business to massively reduce expensive IT infrastructure costs and get up and running with fully functional IT capabilities immediately upon purchase. Run your business from your office block or your parents’ garage…how about that for flexible?

Scale up and down

Office 365 is sold on a per-person per-month license agreement. That means if you’ve just won an important piece of business and you need to add employees to your department or create a whole new project team you can do so effortlessly and without a huge investment in cost. And the conversely, if you need to scale back operations you can do that too, with ease, and all will be simple to budget for.

Provide a central hub for collaboration

Flexibility also involves how and where you can work. Office 365 turns any number of offices globally into a central location, in the cloud, where you meet and work together. And because of the low start-up costs, setting up new locations in Manilla or Johannesburg is simple. You won’t need to invest in large servers and wire up a glut of desktops – all you need is an internet connection. Office 365 gives you all the tools each of your team needs for full throttle production, on any device. From the traditional Microsoft Office suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) to powerful data and business intelligence tools, Delve, SharePoint Online and state-of-the-art project portfolio management solutions. With Office 365, you have the flexibility of all this with the ability to add new apps if and when you need them.

Consortium’s flexible knowledge

In practice, our increased need to adapt means giving your employees the best possible tools to facilitate collaboration and efficient working. Consortium’s members each have specifically tailored expert knowledge within the full range of Microsoft enterprise products and services and are positioned to help you build a flexible business strategy. To find out more about Consortium, or to explore what we can do for you, contact us today.