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Bimodal IT: A two-pronged approach to delivering innovation and maintenance

Mary K. Pratt | Sept. 22, 2015
One group is tasked with keep-the-lights-on functions, the other on business-advancing tasks. Is this new setup the answer to IT’s dual responsibilities?

Although Schindler Group doesn't disclose staffing figures, Nilles says he staffed the new unit with both new hires and existing IT workers, who were important for integrating innovations with back-end systems. Looking ahead, Nilles says he believes IT employees will continue to move from operations into innovation divisions where they can apply their skills in a more agile, creative way. However, he says he doesn't expect workers will flow the other way because the workers may not adapt as well to the less agile pace and the focus on perfecting systems required for operations.

Global Institute for IT Management's Luftman agrees that opportunities will be there, but workers will be found in new places, with more operational staffers coming from third-party providers and innovation talent coming from business units.

"Infrastructure is essential. You can't run a business without the infrastructure, like you can't run without telephones and electricity," Luftman says. "But the strategic value comes from those in IT who can work with the business partners."

Even as more IT departments segregate their operational and innovation teams, IT professionals will still have great job prospects, Luftman believes. Operational staffers will have jobs either in-house or with third-party providers, and many of them will command hefty salaries. He says he's heard of some of the larger financial service firms paying infrastructure leaders $300,000-plus including bonuses.

"But the bigger bucks will be for people who are closer to the business and for those who understand how to leverage technology for the business and can do so to drive business value," he says. "If someone wants to make real big bucks as CIO, you've got to look at these other skills that are essential, like leadership and management and communication. And you've got to get closer to the business."


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