In some mythical past world, things changed relatively slowly, if at all, and you could count on business requirements staying the same for long periods of time.

In reality, we all know that was never really true, but it’s how IT operated—slow and steady—and companies put up with it because there didn’t seem to be another option. So IT delivered the same apps in the same way to the same user base in the same places, and behind it the same old infrastructure kept chugging along.

No business can afford to live that fantasy today. Change is the only constant, and if things seem like they’re staying the same for any length of time, it’s only because we’re catching our breaths for the next big transformation. New innovations to empower the workforce, from wearables and the Internet of Things to “digital paper.” New partners and contractors to bring into your business to expand your capabilities and reach. New market opportunities to capture in every part of the world and every part of its economy. Consumers demand an unending flow of new and better, and their expectations have infected—or, should we say, inspired—the enterprise workforce to want the same. And it’s all happening at blistering speed.

Even with unlimited freedom and resources, the challenge would be daunting enough. But with tight global markets and intense pressure on the bottom line, you’ve also got to be able to work more cheaply and efficiently in everything you do.

As a former CIO, I know all too well about the tightening requirements around cost, security, government regulations and industry standards – all of which add yet another layer of complexity. And what if disaster strikes and you can’t do business the usual way anymore? If you can’t switch quickly to another way of working, there might not be a business to resume once the disaster passed.

It’s enough to make a traditional IT leader want to change careers to a Chief Strategy Officer ;-).

Fortunately, you won’t find many traditionalists in our industry these days. We now realize that flexibility is the first order of business for every IT organization. If you can’t adapt rapidly to new requirements and conditions, you’re going to let your business down again and again. You have to design your whole approach to technology based on the assumption that the right answers you find today might not be the right answers tomorrow. Infrastructure lock-in is death.

IT strategy today revolves around designing for change—a core principle of the software-defined workplace. That means being able to choose the right kind of infrastructure for each purpose, whether cloud, hybrid, legacy or converged, on-premises or elsewhere. It also means delivering the right mix of apps, desktops and data on the right device for each user, drawing on the full spectrum of mobile hardware and software to drive value. With a flexible workspace solution, IT can take a “build/borrow once, deploy anything” approach that makes it possible to re-use the same infrastructure in myriad different ways. That makes it possible to instantly embrace new ways of working, and bring new locations or work teams onboard quickly at minimal cost, while still keeping that whole diverse enterprise environment unified and manageable.

Most importantly, the flexibility of the software-defined workplace gives IT the power to say yes to the business. Can we open a new branch location fast enough to capture this emerging market opportunity? Yes. Can we bring on a team of contractors overnight while keeping costs low? Absolutely. Can we transform our organization through M&A, and shift to a more open, collaborative workplace while we’re at it—without disrupting ongoing operations? Of course we can.

Sometimes the right answer is no. Will this hurricane leave our workforce unable to access IT services? No. Will data sovereignty requirements limit our ability to work across borders? Not at all. Will we be unable to leverage our legacy investments as we shift to new IT and business models? Nothing could be further from the truth. No matter what happens, we’ll keep the business up and running, the workforce empowered and inspired, and the competition scrambling behind us.

The world we now live in is dynamic, chaotic, unpredictable and always full of surprises. That’s what makes it so exciting to do business  today. With a flexible workplace, IT can share that excitement, confident that each twist and turn will be just one more chance to use their infrastructure in new ways. At Citrix, we’ve built flexibility into the way we think about technology and the people who use it, because we’re not interested in going back to the old days.

We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings—and how we’ll be able to greet it.