Creating the Aerodynamic Business (part 1)

Chris Gabriel continues to explore the concept of the ‘Aerodynamic Business’.  In this two-part follow up to his first post in the series, Chris looks at the organisational attributes that define the Aerodynamic Business, and the four technology innovations that underpin them.

In the first of this series of posts, I set out how businesses have responded to economic headwinds by seeking to streamline their operations, cutting costs and driving efficiencies at the ‘front end’.  But I also described the need to continue down that path, positioning organisations to compete more effectively in an ultra-competitive economy or preparing for growth by moulding an aerodynamic shape for their entire organisations.

That assertion is borne out by a recent IBM CEO survey (IBM Capitalising on Complexity 2011), in which 79% of respondents felt that complexity in their business would rise significantly over the next five years.  Tellingly, less than half felt their organisations were structurally ready to meet the challenge.  CEOs know all too well that the path to recovery and the way to meet the challenge of complexity is to create an Aerodynamic Business.

But what does an Aerodynamic Business look like?

In simple terms, an Aerodynamic Business is more agile, more fleet of foot, and better able to make decisions with clarity and confidence.  Those are well-worn phrases, but in the today’s context, in which economic and competitive imperatives meet new technology enablers, they take on new, more concrete meaning.

In essence, creating an Aerodynamic Business means using technology and technology-enabled, streamlined business processes to transform the way the organisation collects, analyses and uses data, makes and implements decisions, drives innovation and collaboration, provisions resources, and interacts with customers and suppliers.

In practice that could mean:

  • Improving interaction with customers or citizens to make every interaction count
  • Effectively managing the cost and agility of supply chains or service delivery
  • Enabling faster product or service development cycles
  • Making better informed and faster decisions from boardroom to ‘factory floor’
  • Reducing costs and directing resources into growth markets or new products
  • Adopting new ways of working to improve organisation and individual productivity.


In short, an Aerodynamic Business is equipped to compete and designed for growth in an ultra-competitive global economy.

It is able to achieve peak productivity, using every available resource in the most effective way – to make every decision and every minute of every day count. It removes the factors that add drag to customer or supplier interactions, eliminating processes and interactions that are cumbersome or complex. And it makes efficiency a dogma for every individual working for or with it, and for its internal ICT systems.  The end goal is to turn the business ecosystem into a highly efficient and highly interconnected support system.

As a result, the Aerodynamic Business makes faster and smarter decisions, using information as a competitive weapon, and putting the right people with the right information together to collaborate as often as is needed – enabling it build better insights into changing customer, citizen or market demands and act on them in an instant.

The theory is great of course.  But the question many business leaders are, or should be, asking is “How do we get there?”

The answer is different for every business, but the road to a solution starts with a single, holistic strategy bringing together business imperatives and technology to create a platform on which to build a thoroughly modern business model…

Look out for part two, coming soon, in which Chris identifies the four key technology innovations that will drive these process, cultural and operational paradigm shifts. 

Tags Strategy, Aer, Aerodynamic Business, Business Strategy