I’ve been much amused byBi-Modal IT that Gartner coughed up a few months back.
Bimodal IT refers to having two modes of IT, each designed to develop and deliver information- and technology-intensive services in its own way. Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is nonsequential, emphasizing agility and speed.
The amusing part is that I’ve been working in this type of IT for at least 20 years. Any reasonable sized organisation has three distinct IT teams:
|Operations||break/fix, helpdesk, monitoring and maintenance/replacement, handover/acceptance|
|Projects||deployments, upgrades, changes,|
|Architecture / Design||strategy, selection/decision, review,|
Both Operations and Architecture teams are “emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy”. These teams are often long term employees, internally costed/budgeted with high touch on the assets inside those organisations. There are no project managers, limited change, repetitive tasks and limited permission to work independently or creatively.
The Project teams operate “nonsequential, emphasizing agility and speed” are often formed from a mix of vendor, resellers and contract resources that take the design and implement in the fastest way possible before handover. They negotiate the incumbent processes and often bending them past breaking point. They transform the original design into something that can actually work, form a dynamic pool of resources to iterate over the solution and then implement it inside a timeline.
Everyone try hard to work together even though each stakeholder has a wildly different vested interests. Vendors want to move on to the next deal, resellers want to invoice to keep the cash flow under control and contractors are trying work out what the hell is going on.
Bi-Model Isn’t New
I have worked for Corporate IT in Project Mode for more than 25 years. My job was to get the project completed – however, wherever , whatever. The sooner the better so I could move onto the next project which would be more interesting and exciting. Project teams create genuine change by forcing new systems into operation, by modifying the original design, by drawing in external talent to execute at speed and on deadlines.
Thats why Corporate IT managers love Gartner. The existing way of IT delivery is being validated by Gartnerwith the name “bi-modal”.
What Gartner actually means  is poorly described and misses fundamental points. When describing Agile IT, they are describing the projects teams of today:
Furthermore, agile IT doesn’t just require new technologies and new skills — it requires a different set of skills from IT professionals. The IT-centric individual who is a cautious guardian and enjoys meticulously following well-defined processes is unlikely going to turn into a business-centric individual who is a risk-taking innovator and enjoys improvising in an uncertain environment.
This is not change or transformation, its validation and reinforcement.
And this is statement is surreal in its detachment from real Enterprise IT:
We’ve found that organizations are most successful when they have two modes of IT — with different people, processes, and tools supporting each. You can make traditional IT more agile — but you cannot simply add a little agility to it to get full-on agile IT.
For many managers & executives, this is what they are doing already. They already thought of it themselves.
Cloud & Non-Cloud
My take on Bi-Modal IT is that Gartner’s Lydia Leong was attempting to describe how cloud services completely deforms the ITIL operational models. Silos are destroyed, job descriptions are irrelevant, skills must be upgraded on a quarterly basis and IT becomes heavily dependent on their human infrastructure. Cloud replaces or transforms the physical infrastructure into human infrastructure that drives software.
But Enterprise IT doesn’t want to hear that. Hiring people, training people, managing people and building new ways of working isn’t what they want to hear at all. What they actually hear is validation of their existing IT and cheer madly.
Thats good for Gartner revenue but bad for just about everything else.
Thats why Bi-Modal is dumb. The intention is so readily misinterpreted. When the actual outcome of a strategy or advice is consistently wrong then the strategy or advice is just wrong.