12/05/2011 08:12 am ET Updated Jan 30, 2012

The Only Constant In Life Is Change: How Will Your Business Stay One Step Ahead?

Is your company ready for change? I'm not asking if you are prepared to use the latest new devices, such as smartphones. Or how to appeal to the demands involving new demographic groups, such as Gen Y employees.

While these are important, what I'm really asking is if your organization is prepared for how technology is reshaping what it means to do business. In just the past 10 years, it's become normal to track in real time everything from supply chains to seabeds using sensors, GPS devices and RFID technology. Now it's unusual if systems and people aren't connected. And analytics? Well, it's essential to use analytics to make sense of the barrage of data that all this connectivity generates.

The results of this new environment -- where companies either react quickly to new market changes and opportunities or see rivals overtake them -- are stark. Companies have disappeared in waves of mergers and acquisitions or through their inability to stay innovative. Little wonder that an IBM survey of CEOs found that 80% feel they are in a turbulent business climate and plan to make bold moves in response.

When all is said and done, in a tech-determined world, bold moves come down to a company's ability to apply technology to generate business advantage. That's why smart businesses are adopting business analytics and cloud and mobile computing. They understand that to stay ahead, they need to anticipate the next wave of information technology.

There's one crucial area, though, that even the most innovative companies aren't focusing on: what the processes within their own businesses can tell them.

Companies understand the importance of using analytics to mine the data they collect about customers and partners. But think about the information from the internal functions of a business everyday: how the data center is operating, how IT processes are executing, how applications are interacting, even the lifecycle of application development. In fact, your IT processes and the related infrastructure they run on are some of the most knowledgeable parts of your business.

This is a new way of thinking. Which is why it provides such huge opportunities for increasing productivity and identifying growth opportunities. Historically, a business' IT infrastructure was the boiler room in the ship. It made things run. But the infrastructure is now the real-time pulse of how a company is operating. The question is how to turn that into an advantage by monitoring and analyzing it, so that you can continually make it operate better.

That may sound abstract, so let's put it in concrete terms. With the help of software and expertise, Bolsa de Comercio de Santiago, a large stock exchange in Chile, is now able to process high-volume trading in microseconds, increasing its transaction capacity by 900%. By increasing the speed of its processing and by applying analytics, the company significantly improved order routing, giving its traders visibility into business activity in real time. With this insight, they were able to detect suspicious activity, and improve real-time securities fraud surveillance by 100%. The exchange is more agile now and is competitively positioned for further growth.

So, here are some questions to consider. If you were to turn a critical eye on your internal IT, what would you notice for the first time? Do you have ability to visualize unusual events? What operations or processes are ripe for automation? Could you improve decision making by quickly responding to changing market conditions?

To learn more about becoming an agile business, click here.