As we noted in last week’s post, digital transformation is becoming a requirement, not an option, for businesses. This imperative creates a multitude of challenges for existing organizations and IT departments, the most notable being how to manage traditional IT operations while also innovating to meet today’s digital challenges.

Enter “bimodal IT,” an organizational model that’s getting attention as a realistic solution. Gartner Research created the term to describe a strategy that separates IT into two modes: “Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is nonsequential, emphasizing agility and speed.”

In an August 2014 blog post, Gartner research vice president Lydia Leong elaborated on the definition. “Traditional IT [Mode 1] is focused on ‘doing IT right,’ with a strong emphasis on efficiency and safety, approval-based governance and price-for-performance,” Leong wrote. “Agile IT [Mode 2] is focused on ‘doing IT fast,’ supporting prototyping and iterative development, rapid delivery, continuous and process-based governance, and value to the business (being business-centric and close to the customer).”

Adding a little agility and expecting “full-on” agile IT is not realistic, wrote Leong. “We’ve found that organizations are most successful when they have two modes of IT—with different people, processes and tools supporting each,” she added.

Adding a little agility and expecting “full-on” agile IT is not realistic, writes gartner RESEARCH VP lydia leong.

Gartner predicts that 75 percent of IT organizations will be bimodal in some way by 2017. And although the primary motivation for adopting the strategy is to stay competitive, the approach can deliver other benefits.

In “10 things you need to know about bi-modal IT,” CIO’s Mary K. Pratt notes that a bimodal approach can improve teamwork and morale, provide a company with a competitive edge, and help to increase cooperation between operations and business units.


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