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Bimodal Business leads to Bimodal IT

by Peter Sondergaard  |  December 17, 2014  |  Comments Off on Bimodal Business leads to Bimodal IT

In a recent blog post, I discussed the concept of bimodal IT as a way for CEOs and CIOs to manage the digital divide between what IT provides and what the enterprise needs right now. Bimodal IT has been a Gartner focus for our clients the last 18 months

In bimodal IT, mode 1 is traditional IT, where systems must be reliable, predictable and safe. Mode 2 is non-sequential, emphasizing innovation, agility and speed. It’s all about the flow in mode two, more “fluid” than solid, like a startup.

CIOs need to function at two speeds to seize the opportunity in digital business, and nearly half of them are currently doing so. In a Gartner survey, 45 percent of CIOs state they currently have a second fast mode of operation and, by 2017 we predict that 75 percent of IT organizations will have a bimodal capability.

The digital divide continues to widen

The ability of executive teams to forecast the future of their competitive environments, markets and value chains is diminishing, almost on a quarterly basis. These same teams are under pressure to find ways to mitigate stakeholder risks and exploit business opportunities. Meanwhile, disruptive digital trends crowd the horizon. The consumerization of IT, the Nexus of Forces (social, mobile, cloud, information and analytics) and the Internet of Things have triggered explosive digital demand.

All of this leads to the digital divide widening between what the IT organization can provide and what the enterprise wants and needs. This is why bimodal IT is a powerful capability for addressing these issues. It entails operating the IT organization in two modes that are comprehensive and coherent, but deeply different, while exploiting the benefits of both.

The risk of not responding; Shadow IT

Internal pressures are forcing the hand of the IT organization. The growth in shadow IT is a manifestation of users’ desire to control their technological destiny, of their growing confidence in their ability to do so and of their dissatisfaction with the IT organization’s current methods. Shadow IT is the long-standing phenomenon that is currently growing at a rapid rate, whereby unofficial investment in IT occurs around the enterprise often “under the radar.” This is not merely decentralized IT. Shadow IT sidesteps the designated IT organization to derive value from technology. This is what I referred to in my previous blog post about business units acting like start-ups in your own organization.

If IT doesn’t act, the digital void will be filled anyway

The problem with shadow IT for CEOs and CIOs is not just that activities are happening outside the direct control of a formal IT organization. It’s that in acting independently, shadow IT often makes a huge unmanageable mess leading to integration, security and technical debt problems down the road.

CEOs need to know that is in the interest of the enterprise, not just the CIO and their team, for IT to be a full-fledged partner in the creation of the digital enterprise and bimodal IT is the way to achieve it. Indeed, this may be the only way to avoid a future filled with digital detritus that could impact the enterprise’s competitiveness in the near future

Category: symposium  trends-predictions  

Peter Sondergaard
Former Executive Vice President, Research & Advisory
25 years at Gartner
29 years IT Industry

Peter Sondergaard was an executive vice president and member of Gartner’s operating committee. He led the company’s Research & Advisory organization until August 2018.

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