When you were a kid, did anyone ever try to get you to rub your stomach in a circle while rubbing your head at the same time? Usually this results in a burst of laughter, because for some reason, doing two things at once is harder than it sounds.
Don’t expect that kind of laughter in many IT departments, though.
In fact, one of the reasons CFOs and CIOs have had an occasionally strained relationship is due to technology teams feeling stretched in too many directions at once. That’s why it may have raised some eyebrows a few years ago when Gartner Inc., one of the major tech research firms, suggested CIOs respond with something they call “bi-modal IT.” This post on ITBusinessEdge manages to get the idea across in a single sentence.
“The idea is that traditional infrastructure is best at supporting traditional applications like CRM and ERP while hybrid, software-defined infrastructure will house new mobile- and cloud-facing functions such as Big Data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT),” the author writes, adding that another way to think of it is spending part of the time on traditional technology functions while working in parallel on more exploratory things.
The Move To Self-Serve Business Intelligence
Stress levels among CIOs aren’t the only things leading Gartner to suggest bi-model IT, however. As Information Week recently reported, it’s also being driven by a demand for more self-service type of applications within business departments. The magazine covered Gartner’s most recent ranking of key business intelligence (BI) software providers, and suggested that second mode of being more agile is particularly helpful to those needing BI.
“In this scenario, BI and analytics tools become an underpinning to the entire infrastructure and all its tools, easily accessed by users who need the intelligence, rather than a discrete tool provisioned and allocated by central IT,” the story said, although there was recognition that the changes will be gradual. “Basically, don’t rip out your current investments. Rather, as you implement new projects, look for ones that offer Mode 2 delivery models.”
The interesting question now, is, who will emerge as the BI user group that demonstrates the power of bi-modal IT? Will it be sales, which has an urgency around revenue generation, marketing departments that want to prove their value, or finance departments that need to offer a holistic perspective around business performance?
Whoever it is, the main thing is not to necessarily describe what you’re doing as a bi-modal IT strategy. It’s about being strategic in how you put together the needs and the delivery model to make BI more effective for every department in the enterprise.