by Bask Iyer

Why bi-modal IT doesn’t really work

Apr 25, 2017
Technology Industry

Digital transformation requires IT departments to be interwoven.

directional signs
Credit: Thinkstock

On paper, bi-modal IT may make sense. But this practice is not my reality. Transforming IT is a team sport and dividing teams into “old & slow vs. new & fast” does more harm than good. The fact is IT has to chew gum and walk at the same time. 

According to analysts, “Bimodal IT is the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed.”

Tell me. Who wants to be on the Mode 1 team?  

The real challenge is enabling innovation across IT, at the application level, and within the infrastructure, for a solution that is agile and can respond with security that is built-in to accelerate the pace of innovation. Bi-modal IT assumes that IT’s abilities – reliability, scalability and availability – cannot function alongside newer dynamic developments and practices.

The whole of information technology is key in helping companies successfully transform digitally. More and more companies see the value of digital transformation, and organizations in a variety of industries are positioning themselves as “technology” companies, thus lending credence to the influence of the IT department who can drive such missions.

Part of the draw of technological innovations are their ability to deconstruct silos; bi-modal IT furthers the divide, the stereotypical cool kids against the nerds. It also doesn’t make sense from a competitive perspective as industries increasingly embrace digital transformation. For starters, the need to staff two groups for disparate charges is simply not cost-effective. And I’m certain we’ve all felt the frustration of trying to accomplish any project when it appears the right hand is not communicating clearly with the left.

Certainly organizations depend on the IT group to make sure the network is up, email is flowing, systems are running, financial books are closed, and so on. But to truly succeed, we must work together to serve as advocates for a culture of IT evolution – one where we are willing to take on big risks when there’s not an overwhelming and shared understanding of the business value of doing so.

Why is this shift in focus important? Because you’ve got to deal with a new class of opportunities and competitors as well as a new scale of security threats. Given where business is headed, you need agile, cost-efficient structures, and you have to operate at the speed of business. Basically, when we’re touting “IT as a function” or “IT as-a-service,” we’re really trying to say that IT is the business.

And we’re all working toward the same end goal. Together.