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Agile’s so last season. What’s next?

Jenny Beresford | April 4, 2016
If you think many technology trends are as fleeting and fast as a CEO’s tweet, consider the fickle world of fashion.

A new fad can rise and spread across the globe simultaneously spawned by an overnight social media fest or a celebrity sighting. Go to bed loving purple (e.g. Slack), wake up knowing you must buy orange (e.g. WeChat).

It sometimes feels like that with technology. Cybersecurity? The new black. Data scientists? Must-have accessory this season. Agile? Got fifty shades of that … ho hum … show me something new.

At Gartner’s South East Asia CIO Forum in Singapore recently, a couple of enlightened global CIOs let me know loud and clear that agile practices are the new normal.

They posed the fabulously challenging question – so what’s next? I felt suddenly ‘so last season’, which was the perfect agitation to get me thinking about that very conundrum.

If you’re the CIO, CTO or CDO of a thriving start-up or a sophisticated digital business with a mature enterprise agile environment, you should be thinking about the next future aspiration.

Nothing is more certain than there is no such thing as certainty. In a business environment hyper-charged by the rate of technology change, standing still isn’t an option. If you aren’t evolving, you’re tending to a trophy.

In the fashion industry, the task of clothing and amusing the more privileged portion of the world’s population in style is accelerating.

Zara’s the perfect example, leading the high street fashion industry by pushing consumer expectations ahead with their radical new take on agile fashion design, production and distribution.

It successfully rolls out new collections around the world as fast as it could observe the runway, mimic a pattern and whip up a frock. The way they operate has become a model for most successful global chains, and crossed over into other industries including technology.

The ‘me-generation’ of connected consumers is no different – impatient and entitled. They want to be first, and they want what they see now. Just look at the fans camped outside Apple stores to be the first to get their hands on the latest iPad or iPhone just launched.

Both technology and fashion are at their most desirable when novel. The more surprising and different it is compared to what the masses are wearing or using, the more our early adopters crave the new.

So it is with technology today. Moore’s Law may be slowing the rate of increase of microprocessor power – as the Economist reported in March 2016 – but the incremental growth of new ways and devices to apply technologies is gaining speed. Perhaps it is ‘Vogue’s Law’ that now applies to technology innovation.

Technology and fashion are synergistic and co-dependent. Technology is both a wearable fashion object and a component of garments. Technology enables the global sharing of ideas and designs, and the spread of trends through social media from marketing to selfies. Technology underpins the means of fashion industry production and distribution, from digital pattern making to 3D printing.

 

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