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10 things you need to know about bi-modal IT

Mary K. Pratt | July 16, 2015
Far from being the buzzword du jour, bi-modal IT is a real thing now. In this organizational setup, one group is tasked with the keep-the-lights-on functions and the other on more innovative, forward-looking projects. That sounds all well and good on paper, but what does it mean in the real world?

9. Bi-modal IT can give you a competitive edge

Hunter Douglas' Meilen thinks it's possible that companies with a decentralized IT department could have an advantage. "If you formally bifurcated and took the teams on the innovation side out of IT and put them into business units, you're going to drive a much closer connection between the technology folks. It's probably easier to rapidly innovate and that can lead to some competitive edge," noting that the approach might mean that you also give up control around architecture and infrastructure.

Quarterman adds: "For us, it's all about agility and flexibility for speed to market."

10. Bi-modal IT has career implications, both good and bad

Within a two-speed IT organization, some professionals are finding themselves on one path or the other. Sethi says that once on a specific path, IT workers stay on it as they develop specialization in certain areas, progressing along their own division's path but not necessarily moving over and up on the other.

Sethi says each path has its merits and its steps to senior levels. Operational professionals can move into senior technical roles, CTOs jobs and into positions with hardware and software vendors. Those on the innovation side become CIOs. "In the past it was people from the ranks, developers, who used to grow up and become CIOs. What I see now is the business analyst, those are the folks who grow up to be CIOs. We already see that trend," he says.

Luftman adds that job opportunities are going to be there, and more so in the next 10 to 20 years, but they'll be in new places with more operational folks coming from third-party providers and innovation folks belonging to business units. "The 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."

But even as more IT departments segregate their operational and innovation teams, IT professionals will still have great job prospects, Luftman says.


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