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The Pros and Cons of Bimodal IT and How Automation Can Help

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In the previous post, we discussed the concept of bimodal IT, an IT management model defined by Gartner to balance the maintenance of existing systems with the need to develop innovative solutions. Bimodal IT involves the management of two separate, parallel styles of work that have different objectives.

Mode 1 focuses on optimizing and maintaining predictable, known areas of IT, such as existing back-office systems. Mode 2 focuses on experimentation and innovation in lesser-known areas of IT to develop new applications and services. Mode 1 projects move slowly and require little business involvement, while Mode 2 projects move at a much faster pace and require significant business involvement.

Traditionally, when an organization favors one mode, either innovation or maintenance suffers. The idea behind bimodal IT is that both modes are critical to business success, but each requires a different management approach, different skills, different technology and different processes. Of course, there is no perfect IT model and bimodal IT is no exception. There are benefits and drawbacks.

Bimodal IT can help accelerate the development of new solutions because it allows one area of IT – Mode 2 – to focus on that specific purpose. In other words, Mode 2 doesn’t have to worry about routine, repetitive tasks. That’s Mode 1’s job. Mode 2 projects and personnel can focus on big-picture issues that require innovative solutions with more agility and less risk. Because users get what they need more quickly, shadow IT becomes less of a problem.

At the same time, legacy systems that are critical to business operations require stability and security more than anything else. Innovation in these areas is secondary and rapid change is rarely required. IT teams managing Mode 1 projects can focus on maintenance and process optimization.

On the negative side, separating IT into two distinct modes can create confusion about who is responsible for what, and which processes should be followed. It can also lead to unhealthy competition for resources and influence. The fact is, separation does not equal two completely independent disciplines and entities.

Mode 1 and Mode 2 should rely on each other. For example, innovative applications and services need the stability of Mode 1 legacy systems for successful deployment. However, labeling one team “innovative” doesn’t guarantee that those projects will produce truly innovative solutions. Many would argue that innovation requires collaboration between the teams of both modes, and it certainly requires the secure environment of Mode 1.

Automation can play an important role in the successful adoption of bimodal IT. Automating repetitive, manual tasks can benefit both Mode 1 and Mode 2 by streamlining IT processes and reducing the overhead associated with maintaining existing equipment. Although the idea is to avoid favoring one mode, every organization would rather devote more resources to innovation. Automation allows you to shift resources from Mode 1 to Mode 2, where IT personnel can focus on higher-value projects.

Technologent specializes in the automation of IT and business processes to control costs and maximize productivity and resource utilization. Let us discuss how you can capitalize on the benefits of the bimodal IT model, using automation to optimize operations and create competitive advantages.

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