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​Getting real about bimodal

​Getting real about bimodal

David Spaziani of Gartner explains how IT organisations can adopt the two distinct approaches to meet simultaneous enterprise demand for agility and flexibility; with efficient and predictable systems.

We are now deep into the third era of enterprise IT, where digitalisation is transforming business models and determining who will win, says David Spaziani, Senior Executive Partner at Gartner Executive Programs.

The third era, he says, comes after IT craftsmanship with its focus on technology, followed by IT industrialisation, which stresses on process efficiency and effectiveness.

Spaziani says digitalisation has moved to centre stage across sectors and geographies, and its ramifications are massive for CIOs and their teams, and and the wider organisation.

“Cloud, mobile, social and big data are already central to business thinking, and the next set of digital technologies, trends, opportunities and threats is creating yet another competitive frontier,” says Spaziani.

Photo by Jason Creaghan
Photo by Jason Creaghan

Survival is optional in this world of changing demands.

David Spaziani, Gartner


So how can organisations succeed through what Gartner calls the digitally disruptive decade (through to 2024)?

He says in order to be successful, the ICT team must enable the business to go faster, but at the same time have the right controls in order to go slower.

So how do we go faster and slower at the same time?

Spazianisays bimodal IT addresses this challenge.

Using it, the IT organisation adopts two distinct approaches to meet enterprise demand — one focused on being agile and flexible, the other centred on efficiency, predictability and a step-by-step approach.

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This is not a brand-new concept, he says. “What is new is the urgent need to create an enterprise with bimodal capabilities.

“CIOs need to view bimodal as evolving into an enterprise capability — the greater the impact they seek in bimodal IT, the more the enterprise has to adapt and become bimodal also.”

Spaziani explains most enterprises already have scattered Mode 2 capabilities. These include Agile and Lean Development approaches or innovation management teams.

But, as he explains, Mode 2 is not only about going faster or experimenting. “Simply creating isolated capabilities or decreasing project cycles is not enough to deliver on the potential of bimodal IT.”

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It has to be a comprehensive approach so Mode 2 can deliver a substantive and integrated capability, and not mere through one-offs, he states.


He says Gartner research strongly suggests the need for the organisation to adjust and embrace bimodal capability in order to deliver maximum value.

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In the most recent Gartner CIO survey, he says 38 per cent of CIOs have indicated they are already implementing bimodal capabilities.

He says Gartner predicts by next year, 75 per cent of IT organisations will have a bimodal capability. Around half of these “will make a mess” primarily because they failed to address cultural issues.

“You may want to think about models to apply to help you with these cultural elements,” he states.

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Gartner predicts by next year, 75 per cent of IT organisations will have a bimodal capability. Around half of these 'will make a mess' primarily because they failed to address cultural issues.

David Spaziani, Gartner


He says future IT organisations need three cultures: the Innovator, the Operator and the Guardian. “Acknowledging the different cultures, and the need for all three is vital,” he states.

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“Choose the right people for each culture, then manage and measure them appropriately. Remember they are all an essential part of the whole, and need to be valued equally, not the A, B and C teams.”

He also talks about managing “productive friction” as soon as organisations build the bimodal capacity.

“Don’t start without thinking what governance needs to be built, and to ensure an overarching strategy encourages everyone to work together and play nice.”

For those moving towards the bimodal approach, he suggests to “start small, focused, iterate and learn.”

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The goal is to improve productivity and gain knowledge with every iteration.

The following questions are important, he says. “What worked, what didn’t work? What should we do next time? What should we not do next time?”

His final advice?

“Survival is optional in this world of changing demands.”

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There is no guarantee of survival and as you think about the systems you put in place, please remember that people turn up to do a good thing, says Spaziani.

But to quote the famed American engineer and management consultant W Edwards Deming, he states: “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”

Photo by Jason Creaghan
Photo by Jason Creaghan

David Spaziani spoke on 'how CIOs are rising to the digital challenge through bimodal IT' at the 2016 CIO100 events in Auckland and Wellington.

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