Navigating the Twilight Zone: A futuristic view into Bi-Modal IT as relevant to Higher Education

Part I: In this two part series, NGSIS’ project manager, Vikram Chadalawada, discusses the new Gartner project management and governance model and how it applies to the NGSIS program

BiModal IT becoming reality
Source: Gartner

The big questions that always tend to linger within mature organizations are, “Now that we are here, what’s next? And how can we keep up with technology, especially its multi-faceted changing landscape?” Continuous change seems to be the adrenalin fix that IT organizations industry wide are injecting themselves with, especially in response to external peer pressure. The question is, how conscious is this injection? According to a Gartner research conducted earlier this year, within the next 5 years, all project management, portfolio management practitioners, IT governance executives and IT investment decision makers must come to terms with the impacts of trends that are reshaping IT landscapes. It is also predicted that third-era skills will drive out obsolete project management skills, standards and certifications, forcing organizations to invest in and reinvent their human capital. Given the evolution of IT and the post-mobile world, it is safe to assume that the aliens have landed. In fact, this can be called the age of digital business where any given transaction just doesn’t just involve people and businesses, it is becoming visibly inclusive of the Internet of Things (IOE).

Enter Bi-Modal IT

Evolutionary fluctuations within the IT industry as a whole has woken up organizations to the presence of Bi-Modal IT, a Phenomenon which has become a reality in most organizations especially within the higher education sectors and UofT is not a lone wolf in this space. Mature IT organizations tend to operate in the twilight zone working on one side within Mode 1 which primarily involves legacy systems where the development is sequential, often equated with stability, reliability and on the other side with Mode 2 that involves disruptive and cutting edge technologies where development efforts are typically exploratory, often equated with agility and flexibility. Given the dichotomy that resembles a parallel universe, Organizations are currently faced with the most challenging task of operating within this duality and this is only going to get increasingly complex with time. Also, research trends suggest that while 37% of enterprise spending on IT is currently funded outside of the IT budget, by 2017, this number will rise to 50%. All of this to say, IT leaders should be more concerned about being late to the party (i.e. incorporating digital business practices into their methodology) rather than worrying about wasting resources. It is predicted that by 2020, around 7.3 Billion personal devices will be floating around this planet and 30 Billion Internet Connected Things will emerge as compared to 1.6 Billion personal devices and 0.9 billion Internet Connected Things.

Lots of excitement right? Well, this is not the end of our ‘back to the future’ story. There are many other forces affecting the way organizations behave and respond to emerging trends. The Nexus of forces such as social media, mobile devices, cloud technologies and emergence of big data – all of which seem to move project management, portfolio management and IT in general, towards a new frontier that requires a lot of ‘rethinking the current state’. With the advent of all these disruptive forces within the industry as a whole, organizations are compelled to operate in both mode 1 and mode 2 making these universes co-exist with governing laws that are different for each mode.

Mode 1 versus Mode 2

Coexistence of Universes
Source: Gartner

If one were to produce a reality show on organizational operations, this show can easily be characterized into two sets of actors falling into the Mode 1 and Mode 2 groups. Just to be clear, the delineation between these two modes, is not intended to paint a good versus evil picture of organizational behaviour and process, rather, a means to help organizations identify where they can place themselves within an enterprise level stratosphere. So, using the Pre-digital and Digital evolution benchmarks to guide operating principles within each mode, one can establish that Mode 1 is typically Enterprise focused, belongs to the Analog/Pre-digital era and has traditional vendors implement solutions within this space while Mode 2 is dominated by Hyperscale focus and new vendors that lead solution implementation within this space.

Part II will focus on Mi-Modal Readiness and how to affect change within your organization. 

Source: “Effective Governance of Bimodal IT Projects Requires Adopting a More Outcome-Centered Approach” by Donna Fitzgerald | Bill Swanton for Gartner, 2015 https://www.gartner.com/doc/3003717