Bimodal IT: A catalyst for cloud-based self-services and IT governance

Market Manager, IBM

Traditional IT has built a reputation for keeping the lights on through decades managing core systems of record that require a highly governed and judicious approach; specialized programmers; and slower, more measured development cycles than contemporary IT in the digital era. These practices, emphasizing caution and data control, were unquestioned prior to today’s digital age.

Organizations now need to continuously innovate to stay competitive as a second mode of—or bimodal—IT operation is required, enabling them to maintain their traditional governance while simultaneously focusing on speed, agility and transformation. Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner, predicted that by 2017, 75 percent of IT organizations will be bimodal.

While this bimodal approach to IT is improving the agility of organizations, many in the line of business grow impatient, turning to cloud computing for the added speed and economics of application delivery. Through cloud-based platforms, organizations can quickly and efficiently leverage self-service applications that allow business users access capabilities as needed and respond to business changes quickly.

Balancing dual goals

As changes in customer behavior, technology and the business environment accelerate, business units need speed and self-service applications. But for IT, the need for speed can be a massive culture and process shift, often requiring it to retool its operating model to quickly deliver solutions that drive enhanced decision making.

Can the IT organization effectively leverage existing IT processes and remain sufficiently organized to meet the burgeoning and unpredictable self-service requirements? The tipping point may be when the organization finds itself at a competitive disadvantage because of its rigidity and inability to harness information and drive innovation in a timely and effective fashion.

In this case, a bimodal IT approach may just be the catalyst IT needs, allowing users the self-service they demand with the governance that IT requires. Bimodal IT can bring fresh thinking and agility for users and create a highly intense focus on systems of engagement while ensuring traditional systems are not neglected.

In a bimodal approach, IT departments can still balance the dual goals of managing day-to-day operations and controls over data while allowing the line of business to move forward with new ideas, ad hoc reports and analysis. pace with business demands

Marketing is fertile ground in organizations for implementing bimodal IT. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) have always been responsible for engaging the customer; now they are required to understand and respond to customers as individuals. They launch initiatives with ingrained data savvy and view data science and analytics as core to their business models and marketing success. They need data insights to fuel innovation and bring products to market quickly.

Not surprisingly, CMOs today are purchasing significant marketing-related technology and services from their own capital and expense budgets—both outside the control of the internal IT organization and in conjunction with them. They are increasingly willing to strike out on their own to supply data to entire groups of users. Suddenly, marketers have a new world of possibilities at their feet. They are analyzing conversations in social media, adapting campaigns to what customers really need and delivering more relevant and engaging customer experiences across sales channels than ever before.

Supporting collaboration through the cloud

While a bimodal approach can reduce friction, an important enabler of IT transformation is cloud computing. It creates the speed and simplicity to not only add users and large departments, but also to connect larger ecosystems than ever inside and outside the company. For marketing departments that have faced challenges sharing data with third-party consultants, partners and suppliers, the cloud can deliver significant efficiencies.

Marketers can use cloud-based platforms to work more collaboratively with IT through the use of guided, self-service capabilities. This approach also helps free up technical resources to focus on core business priorities. The reality is that you can’t market in a vacuum. You need to be able to tie all your systems together to ensure marketing, procurement, finance and fulfillment are working in harmony.

As organizations continue to infuse business intelligence across the enterprise, they need to balance resources to equip marketing with the tools necessary to remain well versed in customer insights to drive business strategy. Enabling CMOs and the IT organization to focus on what they do best can set the stage for innovation and transformation.

See for yourself. Try IBM Cognos Analytics, IBM Watson Analytics for Social Media or cloud-based Watson Analytics to see how quickly you can start putting data in your organization to work.