The pressure on modern IT departments is intense. Those that can’t adapt to rapidly-evolving technology like mobile devices, cloud applications, and big data are left behind. In addition to the work IT professionals have always done, they are also expected to work closely with teams across the enterprise to support business initiatives.
Large companies often have slow-moving, conservative IT departments that keep things running reliably but can’t match the pace of upcoming startups. They need to keep existing structures in place to manage legacy systems and ensure stability, but they also need to increase the speed of change in order to stay competitive. Can any one IT department do it all?
In 2014, Gartner called out a new trend that allows enterprises to maintain their stable, traditional IT departments while simultaneously increasing speed, agility, and innovation.
What is Bimodal IT?
Bimodal IT involves a company dividing its IT department into two separate “modes.” Mode 1 is traditional IT. It emphasizes stability and the operations that keep the lights on in the organization. Mode 2 is experimental, fast-paced, and innovative. Mode 2 aligns closely with the business units that are putting high demands on IT in modern environments.
And it looks like bimodal IT departments are here to stay. "CIOs can't transform their old IT organization into a digital startup, but they can turn it into a bimodal IT organization," says Gartner's Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Research. "Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation, and we predict that 75% of IT organizations will be bimodal in some way by 2017."
Is Bimodal IT New?
Not exactly. IT departments have always been tasked with the dual goals of managing day-to-day operations while also helping the company move forward. As Kurt Marko writes for Forbes, “Whether you call it legacy versus emergent systems, Brownfield versus Greenfield deployments or sustaining versus disruptive technologies, the dichotomy between old and new or maintenance and development has been around since the dawn of IT.” That means that regardless of whether your enterprise plans to formally implement bimodal IT in the near future, you still face the question of how to keep your existing IT processes running smoothly while becoming the modern, innovative company you want to be.
The good news is, while the operations-focused half of a bimodal department may be more traditional, it doesn’t have to be stuck in the past. Thanks to sophisticated automation solutions, these days keeping the lights on doesn’t mean that operators have to work around the clock or monitor job schedules manually.
What is Workload Automation’s Role in Bimodal IT?
Whether or not they have bimodal IT departments, most companies would prefer to funnel resources into innovation rather than operations. Most employees, even on the operations side, would rather not be bogged down in manual processes that could easily be automated with the right job scheduling software. Both modes of bimodal departments have a lot to gain by streamlining IT processes.
Gartner has made some recommendations for how to optimize costs for each half of a bimodal department. According to this Gartner report, automating mode 1 projects is a key way that enterprises reduce IT costs as a percentage of revenue. That’s not surprising, considering that implementing an enterprise job scheduling solution can save a company several hours each day in processing time.
Using workload automation to reduce the time spent on manual processes or coding custom scripts frees up employees to tackle initiatives that will move your company forward. That could mean shifting more staff onto mode 2 projects, or directing them to work on further streamlining mode 1 operations. Either way, your company saves time and money and your employees are happier doing more rewarding work.
You should have workload automation software that is compatible with your forward-thinking mode 2 initiatives as well. A key focus of mode 2 is embracing new technologies and a changing technology landscape. The right workload automation solution for a bimodal department will have the flexibility to integrate with a variety of systems and applications, both on premise and in the cloud, and will have a history of adapting to new IT trends and requirements.
Should All IT Departments be Bimodal?
If your company hasn’t already implemented a bimodal IT strategy, you might be wondering if it’s a necessary strategic change. The advantages are clear: increased speed, flexibility, innovation, and a closer alignment with business units. However, since Gartner introduced the model it has also faced criticism.
One issue is employee morale. There’s a fear that IT staff who end up focusing solely on mode 1 operations will be dissatisfied with their careers, and that it will be difficult to attract top talent to mode 1 jobs. For this reason, many companies avoid a complete separation of the two teams. Small and mid-sized companies are also much less likely than large companies to become entirely bimodal. If your department remains undivided or partially divided, you will still want to free up operations employees to work on mode 2-type projects as much as possible.
Some critics say that the bimodal structure is inefficient. Jason Bloomberg at Intellyx writes that bimodal IT is just an “excuse to keep doing IT poorly,” and that companies should get rid of slow, traditional, IT altogether. Still others argue that IT should be trimodal, with a third division that spans the gap between Gartner’s two modes.
Regardless of the strategy your enterprise chooses, the idea behind bimodal IT—allowing traditional departments to become more agile—is essential in the modern business environment. The widening gap between legacy IT structures and new strategies has created a growing tension—one that can be alleviated with software that streamlines day-to-day operations and leaves more resources for strategy and innovation.
Maximizing the hours you save for mode 2 projects involves not only implementing the right tool, but using it efficiently. Your enterprise job scheduling software should provide comprehensive workload automation for the entire company. This is especially important if you’re managing a variety of projects within IT and across multiple business units, which is the case in a bimodal department. Your automation solution should provide a central monitor for processes running on all systems and applications in your enterprise.
To try a flexible enterprise job scheduler that will save your company time for the initiatives that really matter, download a 30-day free trial of Automate Schedule.