Matt Kingswood of ITS UK examines the challenges and opportunities around this new style of IT service delivery
A recent survey by Gartner found that 45 per cent of CIOs currently use a bimodal IT service management strategy. This method of service delivery allows IT teams to split their focus into two separate, coherent modes: stability and agility. The first mode involves the operational side of IT, in which the team focuses on the safety and reliability of an organisation’s IT environment. This includes daily tasks such as troubleshooting issues and helpdesk functions. The second mode, which is the crux of bimodal IT, is centred on innovation and allows the IT team to experiment and identify new ways of using technology to meet the fast-evolving demands of the business.
By 2017, Gartner predicts that 75 per cent of organisations will have implemented bimodal IT strategies. Why the sudden interest in this new approach to IT service delivery?
In short, by separating IT functions, businesses are able to continually adapt to rapid business growth, develop products and services driven by new technologies, and identify different applications of current technologies.
Bimodal IT challenges
For mid-market businesses, which typically have limited IT staff, ensuring that technology keeps pace with business demands is a challenge. Many CIOs may feel that their IT spending is weighted too heavily toward the maintenance side of IT, leaving little room for new projects.
The trouble is that, if IT staff are too consumed with troubleshooting and helpdesk issues and do not have the time to accommodate new developments, users tend to resort to shadow IT. As other business units take it upon themselves to implement IT solutions that meet their specific needs, the IT team’s role of maintaining the organisation’s infrastructure is threatened, as they are not able to support new technologies they are not aware are being used internally.
Innovation plays a key role in advancing business, but organisations cannot afford for their service delivery times to suffer. A business that outsources helpdesk, for instance, needs to ensure that who they are partnering with is equipped to quickly and efficiently troubleshoot issues. Otherwise the organisation’s ability to continue business as usual is inhibited, which could compromise future progress.
How businesses are achieving bimodal IT
To adopt a bimodal IT service delivery strategy that allows IT to take a more holistic role in the business, some organisations are choosing to outsource basic IT functions such as helpdesk. Gartner believes that with the changes in the nature of IT sourcing, smaller IT suppliers will be able to respond quickly to requirements, while also scaling solutions more quickly by utilising cloud capabilities.
By outsourcing IT functions to a managed service provider (MSP), internal staff are then free to invest more time in IT innovation, perhaps even developing their own skunkworks that allows the business to remain agile in a competitive marketplace.
Although it might not be feasible for a mid-market business to implement a bimodal IT strategy with dedicated internal staff, that does not mean innovation is out of the question. Outsourcing basic maintenance functions such as helpdesk can help the business prioritise progress.