Two-speed IT or 4-speed?

Posted on: March 31, 2016 by Kees Kranenburg

Gartner’s Bimodal IT to succeed in digital business comprises a two-speed IT approach: Renovate the Core and Exploit the New.

Renovation of the core IT systems implies an industrialized, ITIL-based service delivery, in which the back-office and legacy applications are standardized and modernized. The changing pace is incremental and evolutionary in long change cycles. The governance is plan-driven and IT-centric based on prescribed performance. The service is reliable, secure, compliant and efficient.

Exploitation of new market opportunities requires short time-to-market. Customer-facing front-office applications – either mobile or web-based – are subject to radical and continuous evolution. PaaS adoption, automated deployment and self-service are elements to speed up service delivery. The change cycles are short – days instead of months. The DevOps way of working is leading. The governance is task-force alike with the focus on the business outcome, customer experience and new revenue.


The bimodal IT distinguishes two speeds and it joins two apparently contradictory goals: speed versus stability. Recognizing these two goals at a different pace, one can apply different approaches, methods and governance to realize the specific objectives. There is a natural split being made between mature and legacy systems and modern customer-facing systems, with both their own dynamics.

On the other hand, today’s application landscapes are comprehensive, complex and scattered. Over the past decades, new applications have been added to the landscape using the popular technology of that decade. In addition, mergers and acquisitions have complicated the application landscape. And mobile has added a new dimension to apps and its experience. Is it that simple to split all those applications in just two speeds?

Clearly, every business needs to innovate continually. Some are more driven by innovation than others. The degree of maturity is not fixed. Look, for example at the telecommunications market, and you see an industry which has shifted from being one of the most rigid and inflexible to one of the most dynamic in not much more that fifteen years.

Market Requirements

Businesses must keep up with market requirements, or even better, they must actively determine those requirements. This demands real agility in the way you create and tune new business processes. The ability to compress time-to-market becomes a winning characteristic and this demands flexibility in both businesses and in its supporting IT services. Scalability, too, is a must but has to be achieved with minimal capital investment.

As businesses become more mature, these demands shift. Supporting IT must allow the business to perform predictably at the lowest achievable TCO. Processes become less differentiating as market share and customer volumes stabilize: in short, business becomes mainstream.

As markets become saturated and behaviors change the mainstream slips towards decline. Processes need to be decommissioned as market profiles change. At the end of industry lifecycles, innovation or obsolescence becomes the choice.

Garnter: There is IT Change and IT Stability, DevOps and ITIL

From an IT perspective, Gartner might be right: There is IT Change and IT Stability, DevOps and ITIL. But when we take the business dynamics into account, a more nuanced view appears than just a bimodal one. This view is depicted in the figure below. Atos ascent distinctive business

With this in mind, business applications are positioned in one of the quadrants based on the dynamics and needs of a particular business activity. Each quadrant requires another management strategy, all standardized but with different objectives. Different applications (or clusters) within one organization can – and most likely will – end up in different quadrants.

The focus and nature of the IT services differ per quadrant, and, therefore, the added value for the business also differs. Distinctive governance structures and KPIs per quadrant emphasize the specific service focus and its added value.

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About Kees Kranenburg
Solution Lead Low-code Platforms
Kees Kranenburg is a Distinguished Expert, domain Applications at Atos. His field of play is software development and application management and the organization, processes, methods and tools necessary to professionalize them. By consultative selling he has brought AMS strategy and innovation into Application Management engagements. His focus areas are in Low-code platforms, Application development and management, and Outsourcing. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the University of Arnhem and Nijmegen and a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. Kees is the author of the books “Model-based Application Development” and “Managing a Software Factory”.

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