Bimodal IT outlines two very distinct system models, which it argues are necessary in order to support digital within the enterprise. Type 1 is traditional IT – where systems must be reliable, predictable and safe, taking care of typical enterprise operations. Type 2 is a more experimental ‘start up’-type of organization that can explore and develop the infrastructure to support next-generation applications and services that are entering the data center.
Gartner sees that it is necessary to separate out the digital side of business from the rest of the IT operation in order to facilitate innovation, promote risk-taking and seize the emerging opportunities in the new digital ecosystem. In other words, the digital business becomes an ‘overlay’.
In a keynote speech at the group’s September ITExpo, Mary Mesaglio, research vice president Gartner, said: “You need to become bimodal because one mode can’t answer the complex needs of the organization. It’s not nice to have. Gartner believes you must have both modes.
“Traditional IT has focused on operational excellence. IT has been like rocks in a river. In contrast, the digital world is in continuous flow.”
Bimodal IT seems like the better-than-nothing approach. By adding an overlay to the existing BSS, the operator avoids a major legacy IT transformation project. The downside is that this approach creates multiple product catalogues and customer databases.
The fundamental question we would ask is: does it make sense for the digital business be an ‘overlay’? Gartner’s argument is that operators need to overlay digital onto traditional IT in order to seize the digital opportunity. But the digital business cannot be separated from the traditional business – at least for telecoms. Digital business is becoming the business – it affects the entire enterprise architecture.
The overlay approach may fail to integrate digital channels and digital business effectively with the existing channels and business. And separating the digital business from the rest of the enterprise goes against the direction of travel – i.e. connecting all elements of the business to support a Single Customer View, and offering a truly omni-channel experience to customers.
Although bolting on digital provisioning sounds attractive, anecdotal evidence shows that it often fails to deliver. In a recent research study, independent consultants, Northstream, spoke to a number of operators that had tried this approach.
“We wanted to connect all our channels. We could see the potential, but the challenges in either getting rid of legacy or finding a way to deal with it has been a struggle.” – Product Manager at a Nordic operator
“We are currently operating in omnichannel with an old system. We can perform specific omni-channel actions, but it requires a lot of manual work.” – Product Owner at a Western European operator.
In other words, a simple patch up job won’t necessarily cut it. A transformation project that incorporates all customer experience models within the BSS, offers a cleaner, more maintainable and future-proof architecture, but this does require replacement of the core BSS.
‘Bimodal IT’ is a compromise. Instead operators should be asking more from their ‘Type 1’ operators, and work with a provider who has the ability to support innovation and maintain stability across the enterprise.