I recently had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Data Center Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas. The event catered to enterprise IT managers and the vendors, like Catchpoint, that serve them. It was a chance to learn more about two key Gartner catch-phrases of the past year: “digital business” and “bi-modal IT.“
Gartner defines “digital business” as the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. For example, popular fantasy football sites DraftKings and FanDuel were cited during one session as digital businesses that can disrupt the traditional casino gaming businesses. Of course, bricks-and-mortar casinos can embrace digital business by expanding into online gaming, or even by reaching new customers through online marketing.
Bi-modal IT on the other hand describes two modes of working in the enterprise IT department. Mode 1 is predictable, reliable, rules-based. Orders are taken, products are delivered. Speed and dependability are prized. Mode 2 refers more to experimental centers of innovation within IT. Agility is valued but it’s OK to fail and improve by trial and error. The objective is to unlock Mode 1 for innovation while developing new technologies and processes that can eventually be standardized in Mode 2.
Mode 1 sounds an awful lot like traditional mainframe and even client-server computing to me. Mode 2 sounds like the web, mobile, the cloud, but that’s probably an oversimplification. Gartner’s own research indicates that the top three initiatives for bi-modal IT shops are agile methodologies (76%), multi-disciplinary teams (72%), and adaptive sourcing (53%). No other initiative polled more than 50%.
The whole “bi-modal” concept seems a bit wonkish to me and the results of flash polls during the conference left me unconvinced that enterprise IT really gets it. Having IT that is fast and agile, able to quickly adapt and respond to business changes seems most important to me. Break down the siloes within IT (e.g., DevOps) and between IT and business and you may find that you’re doing “bi-modal” IT without even thinking about it.
Which brings us back to digital business. If you’re not focused on innovation, if you’re not agile enough to respond quickly to business changes and new imperatives, if IT and business are too siloed from each other, or otherwise misaligned, then you’re likely failing at digital business. The cost of such failure is high. Digital business already accounts for 18% of businesses’ revenue today, according to Gartner, and is expected to grow to 41% of revenue by 2020.
You’ll be hearing a lot about digital business from Catchpoint in 2016 and beyond. We’ve repositioned our technology as a digital performance analytics platform. We provide you with the analytics you need to deliver amazing customer experiences through all your digital business channels. You can’t master digital business without good analytics.
Speed and reliability, hallmarks of Gartner’s Mode 1 of IT, are key benefits of using Catchpoint’s technology. We help your applications to respond faster and deliver a consistent level of performance. Yet we play at the heart of digital business, which typically falls under Mode 2. At the end of the day, perhaps that’s the promise of bi-modal IT: unlocking innovation in your established IT operations while bringing speed and reliability to your more cutting-edge, innovative activities. Here’s to finding the right mix in 2016!