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Why Tech’s Permanent State of Change Needs Bimodal IT

by Bunny Tharpe       • November 11, 2016

For most, putting the pace of technology’s progression into perspective, only takes a quick look around the room. It seems we’ve now reached a tipping point where the science fiction dreams of ten years ago, are being realized in reality today. Even Hollywood interpretations of artificial intelligence for example, can now be found in most smartphones.

At a Gartner event this year, Peter Sondergaard described the situation aptly. On these recent technological advancements, he said they “all approached gradually and arrived suddenly.” But what now?

After years establishing a precedent of constantly evolving technology, it’s unlikely that it’ll  suddenly slow down. Businesses will have to respond accordingly or face being left behind.

Enterprise Architecture’s role in managing and maintaining bimodal IT

One of the drawbacks of technology improving so rapidly, is that businesses have rarely had an opportunity to be fully prepared, or caught up. This has led to a situation whereby, many businesses understand the need to adopt new technologies, but are still in the process of phasing out the old.

In essence, this is the root behind the call for bimodal IT.

Bimodal IT

Thought leaders at many of the world’s top tech analytic firms believe the Gartner-backed take on IT is the answer to juggling core, legacy systems and newer tech.

It’s referred to as bimodal IT for its two “modes”. The first dealing with the tried and tested, the predictable, and the tasks associated with “keeping on the lights”. The second pertains to the opposite. The unpredictable, the disruptive and the experimental.

It can be easy to shrug off the likes of bimodal IT as just another buzzword in the light of some business’ less than convincing implementation of the practice. But what is more valuable to business and to the industry as a whole is to look at why bimodal IT might have failed.

Without proper management, the vast differences between the aforementioned modes can lead to disaster, and is likely the reason bimodal IT has been met with some push back, after attempted forays into the strategy come up short.

This is where enterprise architecture fits into the picture. Businesses need to leverage EA’s holistic view of the organization in order to better implement a bimodal strategy. Firstly, enterprise architecture can be used in order to identify a business’ mode 1, and mode 2 assets.

Additionally, enterprise architecture’s perspective on the current state of a business and its capabilities can indicate where new technology needs to be ushered in, and where legacy tools should be ushered out, streamlining the bimodal strategy and making it easier to manage.

Without EA, bringing in new technology, can result in duplications in processes and systems. Aside from the unnecessary costs to continue maintaining both sets, this oversight leads to mis-managed data and setbacks to agility. This is because the disparity between the two competing systems/processes means that valuable information is fractured across different systems and often siloed off from the wider business.

How Bimodal benefits business

Bimodal IT can help businesses in a number of ways. Considering the current, ever changing landscape of tech in business, the most important of bimodal IT;s benefits is its enablement of agility of agility and greater flexibility. This is because one part of IT is freed up to constantly work on tackling new disruptions and chase new opportunities, while the other keeps the house in check.

This is important as a sluggish adoption of the latest industry revolutionizing technology could mean your business falls behind the competition.

Successfully implemented bimodal strategies should also see an uptick in innovation for the same reasons. This benefits a business as it can help an organization be the disruptor, as opposed to reacting in the light of disruption.

It also helps the Mode 2 side of bimodality operate with business outcomes in mind. Of course, the business as a whole should operate with business outcomes and their customer in mind, but there’s is an argument to be made that certain departments need a heavier focus on business outcomes than others. Differentiating between the two modes is one way to aid in mode two’s emphasis on delivering said business outcomes.

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