Governance essential to two speed IT

CIOs have been quick to adopt the concept of Gartner’s bi-modal model, with almost 40% of enterprises already on the bi-modal journey, with the remainder planning to follow in the next three years, according to the market research company’s 2016 CIO survey.

Gartner said the evidence is that building a mature bi-modal platform results in much better digital strategy performance. The survey data suggests that one of the worst things a CIO can do is delay adopting bi-modal. Those who are planning to move toward bi-modal, but have not taken steps yet, came out worst in terms of digital strategy performance.

Since Gartner first mooted the concept on bi-modal back in 2014, there has been much discussion on why CEOs need to adopt a bimodal or two speed IT model, which Lydia Leong, a principal analyst at the company explains as: “Traditional IT is focused on “doing IT right”, with a strong emphasis on efficiency and safety, approval-based governance and price-for-performance. Agile IT is focused on “doing IT fast”, supporting prototyping and iterative development, rapid delivery, continuous and process-based governance, and value to the business (being business-centric and close to the customer).”

Great in theory, but operating in a bi-modal environment still requires careful planning and governance to work

Does Traditional IT send development underground?

While there has been much attention given to building on the innovative and disruptive practices of Mode 2, utilized by the likes of web giants Google and Amazon, there are still traditional IT teams working under a traditional mode 1 environment that are under a huge strain to be leaner, more agile, innovative and productive. One of the biggest challenges to agility in mode 1 is the time and effort needed to create infrastructures for developers and testers to work.  This is why we see development teams going under the radar, looking to shadow IT and developing in the public cloud, such as on Amazon Web Services.  The pressure to be productive mitigates any concerns about governance, compliance and security.

Shadow IT also dodges the designated IT organization in get more value from IT.  The growth in shadow IT is down to the user’s desire to choose their own tools for the job, driven by a new found technical confidence and a dissatisfaction with the IT made available by the organization.  For CEOs shadow IT is a major headache as it leads to security issues, integration problems and technology debt.

Matt Cain, research vice president at Gartner believes that Shadow IT investment often exceeds 30 percent of total IT spend.  Cain believes that IT should position itself as a business partner and consultant that does not control all technology decisions in the business and adopting bi-modal is part of that strategy. “Organizations that formally embrace and extend the digital competencies of their employees will experience improved business outcomes and gain competitive advantage," explained Cain.

IDC has gone as far as stating that the share of worldwide corporate IT spending that is funded by non-IT business units is forecast to reach 45% by 2019.

“Platform technologies such as cloud, mobility, big data, and social business have created the underpinnings for business process transformation and, in some cases, business model transformation. With such high stakes, the line of business units are increasingly taking a front seat in technology initiatives by flexing their budgetary muscle," said Eileen Smith, Program Director, Customer Insights and Analysis at IDC.

In a recent study by the Cloud Security Alliance, a shocking 72% of executives admitted they did not know the number of shadow IT apps within their organization, but admitted they would like to get a handle on it.

“As companies move data to the cloud, they are looking to put in place policies and processes so that employees can take advantage of cloud services that drive business growth without compromising the security, compliance, and governance of corporate data,” said Jim Reavis, CEO of the CSA.

It is no secret that cloud computing has helped employees and departments to bypass internal IT resources to purchase systems and technologies.  In a bid to bring shadow IT back into the fold, some organizations have set up Cloud Service Broker (CSB) models as part of their governance strategy to monitor usage and provide unified, multi-cloud/SaaS options to allow for creativity and experimentation in a controlled environment.

It is on-trend to run these CSBs in a hybrid cloud context where they are creating, managing and delivering cloud services alongside external cloud applications. But it isn’t easy balancing centralized governance, whilst driving innovation. For this reason enterprises have been looking to the IT as a Service (ITaaS) model, which unifies cloud services delivery and management, ensuring consistent governance and product choice, whilst speeding up development.

Planning and governance is key to your bimodal strategy

If you stand back and look at bi-modal you will see that it basically means running two parallel IT organizations and support elements in your business, which is costly in itself. So you need to ensure your investment in a split IT infrastructure is paying off.

Governance is one of the key roles that is part and parcel of mode one. With traditional IT, policies and procedures are in place to cover security and compliancy, keeping the IT lights on at all times. But the agility of mode 2 does not mean we need to kill off governance. This would be an insane move.

Governance within the bi-modal environment becomes less about procedures and more about putting down boundaries. Think of it as an open playing field, but you have to play under the rules which are the external constraints that the IT department enforces. 

Read more about Bimodal IT.

Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.