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Thinking about Bimodal IT – the trick to blending legacy and innovation

Daniel Iversen | July 7, 2016
Gartner came up with the term “Bimodal IT” to describe the scenario in which the CIO and other tech executives handle the integration of an existing, predictable, tech infrastructure and streams of work with one of a more exploratory, emergent stream of contemporary software, trends and devices, commonly characterised as bring-your-own.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Gartner came up with the term "Bimodal IT" to describe the scenario in which the CIO and other tech executives handle the integration of an existing, predictable, tech infrastructure and streams of work with one of a more exploratory, emergent stream of contemporary software, trends and devices, commonly characterised as bring-your-own (BYOD/BYOA etc). And as we know, some of these technologies, are at times even brought into the enterprise by the employees themselves in order to enable better productivity in their work (via Shadow IT etc).

Gartner's definition emphasised the bifurcated nature of the concept, a dual Mode 1 and Mode 2 model that brings to mind the old spinning plates trick, but at different speeds:

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.

But running an IT department along the lines of two separate streams is complex and more than likely increasingly impractical.

The flexible approach to resource allocation and management dictates that a silo model in which two separate teams look after the two modes is probably sustainable, but hardly conducive to moving an enterprise forward to engaging with agile and creative solutions in a world of digital disruption.

Rather than thinking of Bimodal IT as a fixed blueprint for resource allocation and management, it's better to view it as a theoretical lens through which to think about the matters of adoption, integration, implementation, risk and innovation.

The other thing to remember is that even IT infrastructure itself is not immutable and impervious to change: the change may sometimes seem glacial but it is there. For IT infrastructure to better serve its purposes, there has to be a window through which light can stream, a portal for regeneration and growth.

We only have to think about the shift we have seen in the past five years in how cloud computing has dramatically changed the way enterprise infrastructure is maintained and operated. This is innovation reshaping infrastructure, and a reminder that we are constantly upgrading our systems and processes, even if it doesn't always seem that obvious.

Infrastructure has to be part of the innovation discussion and process because it is an integral part of any enterprise. To shunt it off into a separate stream is to close it off from innovation. This could be seriously detrimental to any enterprise because the effective performance of infrastructure systems underpin so many of the revenue drivers of an enterprise.

 

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