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The shortcomings of bimodal IT

Meredith Whalen, Senior Vice President, IT executive and Industry Research, IDC | July 5, 2016
Is the two-speed IT approach really capable of fully supporting digital transformation?

Meredith Whalen, IDC
Meredith Whalen, Senior Vice President, IT executive and Industry Research, IDC

As the business world becomes more global, complex, and sophisticated, IT organisations are challenged to simplify and expedite their processes. Several advisory firms recommend simplifying IT by implementing a bimodal, or two-speed, approach. This approach may seem like a good kick-start in the short term; however, it is impossible to sustain. Bimodal IT takes us back to the era of black and white photography - creating limited output, yet promising that a full spectrum of colours will be added down the road.  

Simplification is not about ignoring complexity or reducing the value of the digital universe. To the contrary, it involves making a highly sophisticated system easy to use, easy to change, and welcoming to consumers.

Digital transformation (DX) requires organisations to scale up their mastery of the 3rd Platform and accelerate their DX journeys. IDC predicts that by the end of 2017, two-thirds of the CEOs of Global 2000 enterprises will have DX at the centre of their corporate strategy. At the same time, more connected consumers, automated processes, and sophisticated analytics place unprecedented demands on IT functions. Many IT organisations are struggling to respond to the need for speed and a high level of competency in creating digital capabilities. Misguided by bimodal, they seek to deliver on new demands by making siloed and unsystematic changes to their existing operations. Yet what's really required is a long-term plan to transform IT - enabling and facilitating business innovation with an eye to the broad organisational context.

IDC believes the key here is to continuously transition new technologies into stable business services. Integration - the art of managing the continuous exchange of lessons learned from the bright sparkling innovation of our technology incubators with existing operations and at-scale scaling business and technology. Integration allows IT organisations to scale faster, be agile, and expand the enterprise environment into a broader ecosystem.

As IT leaders, we need to ask, "What's our strategy to support digital transformation?" In response to unprecedented management challenges posed by global digital transformation, organisations need a full spectrum leadership model that can manage continuous transitions from old to new, from unstable to stable, and from experimental to operational. Having two modes of IT or reducing to binary choices is not the right response.

CIOs and IT executives face a unique opportunity to expand their leadership and deliver more value to their business. Those that decide to get ahead of their DX competition need a leadership model like IDC's Leading in 3D - innovate, integrate, and incorporate - that's flexible, scalable, and reliable.


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