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Bimodal IT Supports a Bimodal Business in the Digital World

Blog: Jim Sinur

Digital demands that businesses have to think in two different ways to support business outcomes. Some of this is because there are parts of your business that are static and stable and other parts that are evolving. The management of these two styles are quite different and the line between the two modes can shift and blur overtime. New changes in a market or industry can shift the split. However, both modes are being impacted by an acceleration in speed that seems to be overarching. If IT does not deal with this different styles and support both, the business will take over the fast exploratory and nonlinear portions of the business and IT will be the utility over the non-differentiating portion of the business that is easy to eliminate through outsourcing. There are two ways to deal with this emerging situation. 

Successful Defensive Approaches:
For organizations that have a more conservative culture that believes in evolution and incremental results, there are a couple of approaches to cope during the rush to Digital. One popular approach is to wrap stable and time tested system functionality and make the system of engagement quick to deliver visible change to constituents. Another popular approach is to leverage SCRUM like methods to iteratively develop thus creating a software factory that will deliver in a faster time to market, This is often called “wagile” that combines the best of both worlds. The quality of water fall practices with the speed of prototyping. The useful life of any legacy software can also be extended by externalizing rules for quick adaptation that could avoid traditional programming. 

Successful Offensive Approaches:
For organizations that are more risk taking in nature that believe that a certain amount of failure is acceptable, as long as you fail fast there are a couple of approaches that can work well. One is to create an environment of innovation by rewarding people for taking risks and trying new methods, techniques and technologies on a small scale in isolation and then push big upon success (if it will scale). This is what I call the “Do it, Try It, Fix it” approach. The other is to retake shadow IT from the business and move it back to the IT department now that innovation is available now inside of IT. Care must be taken with this later approach to prove to the business that IT is no longer a utility that fights change with all it’s might. This is the “Get on Board or Get Out of the Way” approach.

Net: Net: 
The answer is balanced for most organizations that are going to thrive in the new digital world, so IT organizations are going to have to pick up on all the approaches above and more over time. The clock is ticking for IT to get it together. 

Gartner Defines Bimodal IT as 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.

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