Agility in Information Systems: Enabling Capabilities for the IT Function

George Hobbs, Rens Scheepers

Abstract


This research identifies how the IT function can create agility in existing information systems. Agility is the capability to quickly sense and respond to environmental perturbations. We con-trasted perspectives on agility from a widely used industry framework and that of the IS re-search literature. Beer’s Viable System Model was a useful meta-level theory to house agility elements from IS research and it introduced cybernetic principles to identify the processes re-quired of the IT function. Indeed, our surveys of 70 organizations confirmed that the applied theory better correlates with reported agility than does existing industry best practice.
The research conducted two quantitative surveys to test the applied theory. The first survey mailed a Likert-type questionnaire to the clients of an Australian IT consultancy. The second survey invited international members of professional interest groups to complete a web-based questionnaire. The responses from the surveys were analyzed using partial-least-squares mod-eling. The data analysis positively correlated the maturity of IT function processes prescribed by the VSM and the likelihood of agility in existing information systems. We claim our findings ge-neralize to other large organizations in OECD member countries.
The research offers an agility-capability model of the IT function to explain and predict agility in existing information systems. A further contribution is to improve industry ‘best practice’ frame-works by prescribing processes of the IT function to develop in maturity.


Keywords


IT function; Agility; Viable system model

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Hobbs, G., Scheepers, R. (2010). " Agility in Information Systems: Enabling Capabilities for the IT Function "Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 2(4), pp.1-27.