Gartner’s “bimodal” IT model has attracted a lot of attention from both IT and business. Gartner defines bimodal IT as “the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility.” Mode 1 is traditional and sequential and often described as consisting of marathon runners; this delivery mode focuses on reliability, safety, and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear and often described as consisting of sprinters; it emphasizes agility and speed.
With this in mind, I started to think about some of the marathon runners and sprinters I had consulted on over the years.
Many years ago, when I was a consultant for long since acquired companies like Staffware and webMethods, I worked on a variety of projects for different areas of government. The systems were often built with large system integrators, using an extensive ecosystem of vendors.
These were BPM or Integration systems that provided a broad range of solutions including tax returns, benefits and licencing. These systems, many of which are still in production today, have become the marathon runners of the systems in government.
Whilst these systems dutifully do their jobs, they have caused a number of challenges due to the splendid isolation in which they run. Often as a result of how they were set up or how the contracts were awarded, these marathon runner systems are very specific to the requirements they were built for and were not architected to work within an enterprise to any great extent.
I’ve recently been working with a government client who has great marathon runners, but now needs to sprint with their data. There are three key areas they are looking to improve on:
- Streamlining a number of marathon runners into a single, more efficient one
- Making their world more citizen centric and less agent centric, whilst still increasing automation
- Driving towards a 2020 vision of a more efficient, purposeful department
In order to achieve the above objectives, my client needed a clear data strategy to be delivered. And it needed to be realistic as well—’ripping and replacing’ the marathon runners was neither feasible nor good value for money. They chose to adopt Data as a Service, where the data is exposed for data analysts and sprinter systems as a service, rather than through piecemeal single integrations or, worse, as Excel spreadsheets.
Whilst their strategy does need to involve changes to the people, processes, and technologies being used, it will start to bring about the agility they need to achieve their goals. And as more and more government agencies (and businesses) decide to augment their traditional, marathon runner integration systems with sprinters, I, and my fellow Enterprise Service Consultants here at Liaison, look forward to helping them find creative ways of additionally leveraging their data.