IT organizations are struggling with how to maintain what they have while also reacting to the rapidly changing needs of the business. Some think this means “transforming” IT into a new, agile organization – instead, we can use “bimodal IT”. But what does it really mean?
Bimodal IT is a concept first evangelized by Gartner about a year ago. Simply put, bimodal IT is an IT operating model that runs at two speeds (“Mode 1” for legacy, and “Mode 2” for the new stuff), allowing us to use both at the same time, rather than evolving our IT departments into a completely agile end state.
- Mode 1 is for the part of the organization that prioritizes predictability – waterfall methodologies, monolithic applications, static/predicable consumption models, and specialist organizational structures (e.g. the separation of development, engineering and operations organizations). It benefits from years of experience in optimizing how things are planned, designed, built, and run using well-established methodologies and specialized skills for services and products that are not demanding constant change.
- Mode 2 is for the part of the organization that prioritizes agility – agile development methodologies, cloud native platforms, continuous delivery of software features, flexible consumption models, and cross-functional (DevOps) organizational structures. It requires an iterative approach with teams of generalists which creates a lot of waste if applied to problems that have been solved already.
“Bimodal IT” just simply means we should expect to run BOTH modes for the next ~10 years and signifies a migration of services from Mode 1 to the new, greenfield Mode 2 approach rather than a transformation of the current IT mode.
Bimodal IT has huge implications – “IT Transformation” as we’ve come to know it is nonsense. Rather than creating a 3-year plan to achieve a specific end state, we can create the end state NOW with a greenfield “Mode 2” and migrate the legacy services (if needed) to it over time. That way we can use both the slow lane and the fast lane and satisfy the goals of both modes.
In my next post, I’ll explore some of those implications in more depth, including how to start, cost impact, and organizational aspects – so stay tuned for more!