Bi-modal IT: Finding the perfect harmony

AJ Hartenberg, Portfolio Manager at T-Systems.
AJ Hartenberg, Portfolio Manager at T-Systems.
AJ Hartenberg, Portfolio Manager at T-Systems.

As the concept of bimodal, or ‘two-operations IT’ gains traction, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are grappling with the dilemma of how to keep existing systems humming, while simultaneously developing the agility and innovation capability to respond to new business demands.

In the framework of bimodal IT, the traditional principles of stability, efficiency and security, must co-exist with the newer-age ‘mode two’ principles of agility, innovation, and exploring new technologies.

The problem that’s emerging in many large organisations hamstrung by legacy infrastructure is that IT departments are perpetually sucked into the mode one realm of ensuring operational stability. Very few have been able to successfully lift their heads and develop a truly value-adding mode two capability.

It seems likely that finding a way for the two modes to coexist will be the primary challenge for CIOs to resolve in the coming years.

But while the exact dynamics may change from company to company, it is possible for IT departments to find a harmonious balance between the two modes – generating value from legacy infrastructure and maintaining stability, while also producing increasing rates of innovation.

Getting the most from outsourced service providers
IT outsourcing has evolved significantly over recent years, changing the nature of the relationship between businesses and their IT service providers. The introduction of the bimodal framework means organisations can generate more value from their service providers, and minimise the risks of failed technology experiments.

In essence, outsourced service providers address IT challenges in both mode one and mode two:

– By outsourcing the management of day-to-day IT operations, the CIO and team are able to concentrate on building the mode two capability – and adding increasing value to their business partners. Internal IT staffers will not be pulled away from their mode two activities to deal with operational issues.

– The costs of innovative technologies tend to be quite high at the outset (with no guarantee that investments will be recovered). Most firms don’t have the internal economies of scale, R&D budgets, or risk appetites to experiment with risky new tech. Outsourcing partners can provide flexible Cloud-based infrastructure and services that empowers the CIO to experiment with new ideas, with less associated costs and risks.

For example, we’ve enabled Consol – which manufactures glass packaging products primarily for the beverage and food industries – to derive great returns from its outsourcing partnership. From the origins of migrating SAP systems to the Cloud, the foundations are set to migrate the Exchange environments in the near future.

In this way, Consol is able to scale out their infrastructure without any additional capex. And by consolidating disparate systems into one environment, operational costs are also brought down. Additional resources (such as extra storage) can be turned on and off as easily as a light switch; and the new Cloud platform enables quicker testing and development of new products.

Consol is benefiting from  the cost-efficiencies and flexibility that organisations the world over are striving towards. With the right skills in both modes of one’s IT operations, organisations can achieve the state where mode two ideas can be developed, validated, operationalised, and then passed back into mode one for ongoing support and maintenance.

Finding the perfect harmony between the two modes of IT requires careful planning, and a clear understanding of the business’ requirements. But by leveraging the right Cloud platforms and developing the optimal outsourcing relationships, this harmony can be achieved.

By AJ Hartenberg, Portfolio Manager at T-Systems