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The importance of multi-modal over bi-modal IT

When the concept of bi-modal IT was first unveiled it sought to address the demands on IT organisations by differentiating between, as Gartner saw, the two modes of IT. Mode 1 being the traditional style of enterprise platforms focused on stability and structure versus Mode 2 being focused on agility and speed used more in mobility, user driven scenarios.

There is a risk in seeing only negatives with Mode 1 and only positives with Mode 2, and this can lead to organisational tensions as teams look to establish themselves or remain relevant. Setting up separate teams to deliver on these different requirements might seem like the obvious answer, but ultimately they will need to cooperate and collaborate in hybrid to achieve their goals.

Working seamlessly to deliver and operate hybrid solutions is critical to an organisations ability to embrace the new whilst ensuring resilience in established platforms. One analogy can be drawn in the differences between sprint and tour cycling; whilst these are both cycling sports, part of the cycling team, they have varied requirements of their athletes (people) and on their bikes (technology), to achieve the respective goals of their sport.

Bi-modal IT offers a clear simplification of an old IT challenge, but the reality is trying to box everything into either Mode 1 or Mode 2 can lead to the creation of silos locking in applications into one mode of operation which cannot adapt to all requirements throughout the applications lifecycle. It can limit the ability to evolve Mode 1 applications with more agile, federated processes, and likewise the ability to take a prototype, rapid-development Mode 2 application into a stable core backend system.

This is where the importance of having a multi-modal capability is so critical, with the ability to operate in Mode 1 or Mode 2 depending on the requirement, and most importantly the ability to operate overall as one. Continuing the refinement and improvement of traditional delivery as well as embracing and accelerating more agile delivery models that support disruptive innovation will equip teams to work better with the business, broaden skill-sets within organisations, and optimise the delivery of hybrid integration solutions that are critical to success.

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