In my last post, I discussed Bimodal IT and how some enterprises are adopting it as a way to manage the tradeoffs between “keeping the lights on” and business agility.

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That’s not to say it’s easy. Operating bi-modally still requires proper planning and governance. And there are several reasons why.

  1. Keeping two modes running can be costly.

Operating bi-modally means you’re effectively running two parallel IT organizations and supporting platforms. This can only work if “Mode 1” shrinks as “Mode 2” grows, which can be tricky when carrying a lot of fixed costs for legacy operations (like data centers) or without the right incentives to migrate.

  1. Standing up a greenfield IT capability doesn’t guarantee it will be used.

In our consulting experience, almost every customer we see has a story about a new whiz-bang platform that some smart engineers stood up, but it was done without aligning with user requirements, lacked accountability (e.g. service owners), and had no adoption planning. Operating IT “as a service” also means marketing (including push/pull strategies, soft launches, etc.) so internal stakeholders are made aware, early-adopter feedback is captured, and service onboarding is a good experience for IT’s customers.

  1. Knowing what’s a good fit for each mode isn’t obvious.

Systems and applications that do not demand constant change (Gartner’s “systems of record”) are usually best left as “Mode 1.” End-user and customer-facing apps (“systems of engagement”) require much more agility. However, large organizations have many interdependencies, so migrating apps and services to “Mode 2” requires careful consideration.

  1. Some people just work better in a highly-specialized, structured environment.

And others thrive in change. It’s likely more efficient for people to self-select into the right environment (just like the apps and services themselves) than to move them through top-down planning.


All this implies that Bimodal IT still needs a common planning and governance approach that lives across both modes.

In my next post I’ll be exploring some of these considerations, how our customers are tackling them, and dive into the specific organizational and platform considerations of “Mode 2”. Watch for it soon!

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Gerod Carfantan

Lead Consultant

Cisco Consulting Services