How bimodal IT is helping companies hire and retain workers

bi modal it and what it means to you
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Bimodal IT is a fairly new concept, but if you embrace it you can empower your workforce. With the right employees in the right work environment, risk takers and more traditional IT pros are much less likely to butt heads.

The technology that helps run a successful business is no longer confined behind the walls of the IT department. It's slowly seeped into nearly every department within a company. For example, your marketing department might deploy a new cloud technology, without consulting IT. As a result of this growing need for technology across departments, in many enterprises IT has been split into two entities -- a trend that Gartner dubbed bimodal IT in 2014.

Bimodal IT breaks down into two camps and the first group resembles a traditional IT structure, with a stronger focus on the most critical aspects of technology in a business. This first group is more practical, and they ensure systems run smoothly and efficiently, while keeping the business safe and secure on the backend. They also keep an eye on the bottom line, cutting costs where necessary.

The second group is more focused on innovation and moving the company forward as new technology emerges. It focuses on new business applications, customer-facing software and technology that makes it easier for the business to meet goals and stay ahead of the curve. Unlike the first group, this second camp is not as interested in the bottom line and they are considered risk takers.

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Peter Sondergaard of Gartner describes bimodal IT as "one organization operating at two speeds," and notes that while the two groups may be focused on different aspects of the business, both maintain communication and work together to reach one common goal; increased productivity and innovation.

Part of the shift of bimodal IT stems from the fact that technology providers now target specific departments, rather than selling directly to IT and CIOs. This has spurred a startup mentality within departments and IT, as businesses rush to improve performance by implementing and offering the latest and greatest technology and software, according to Sondergaard.

Craig Hurley, vice president of Product Management at Cosentry, a solutions provider for IT departments, says that bimodal IT can benefit companies when it comes to innovation, growth and hiring. Hurley points out that viewing the two camps of bimodal IT as groups of people can help improve IT hiring and retention.

As technology grows outside of IT, it can be difficult to actually nail down a specific position when hiring someone to help with your company's technology. By defining the two separate camps of l IT, Hurley says it can help target the right hires for the job. You can appeal to the risk takers in IT and those who want a more traditional IT role, which can ensure you have the right person for each job.

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Consequently, by defining these roles, Hurley states it can lead to higher retention rates, since you won't be unintentionally misleading new employees. "Employees who are more comfortable taking risks are not going to be happy in a job that doesn't allow them time to explore new technologies. Conversely, those who like to manage and maintain systems aren't going to be content in a role that requires them to also be visionaries," says Hurley.

A safe haven for risk-takers

Another benefit of embracing bimodal IT is that it helps create a culture of innovation within the company, according to Hurley. Companies realize now more than ever how crucial it is to stay on top of the latest software and hardware in order to remain relevant in today's market. Understanding your overall IT goals can help move innovation and empower employees by employing them on the right side of bimodal IT. With the right employees in the right work environment, risk takers won't have to worry about butting heads with more traditional IT pros.

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Since bimodal IT presents a clear delineation between the practical side of IT and the riskier side, neither one will have to spend much time negotiating with managers. Hurley points out that when you have a team of like-minded employees working towards a similar goal, less time will be spent "convincing" others to go along with their ideas.

However, the greatest thing that can result from accepting bimodal IT is overall customer satisfaction, says Hurley. Chances are the risk taking side of bimodal IT will stay focused on producing high-quality services for customers as fast as possible. By understanding this side of your IT structure, you will be able to ensure you hire the right employees who are enthusiastic about interacting with customers.

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