Disadvantages of Bimodal IT Operation

Gartner defines Bimodal IT as “an organisational model that segments into two categories based on application requirements, maturity, and criticality.” This approach necessitates the creation of separate investment, management, and governance techniques for each category. (Gartner, 2016)
For the remainder of this article, I will refer to the two categories as Mode 1 being traditional and Mode 2 the newer Agile mode.

bimodal itIntroduction

There is a logical rationale to Gartner’s duel-mode IT decoupling of the legacy systems in Mode 1 from the Agile systems in Mode 2. However, one dilemma faced by all Bimodal IT adoptees is the transition of Agile Mode 2 projects back into the core enterprise processes and services located in Mode 1.

This article will focus on the disadvantages of Gartner’s Bimodal IT approach. This is the third article in the Bimodal IT Operations series. The second article in this series discusses “The Advantages of Bimodal IT Operations”.

IT Department Responsibilities

The responsibility of the IT department necessitates caution and it, therefore, adapts slowly to changing technology and business requirements. Traditionally the IT department focussed on stability and not speed. However, one of the key exceptions to this rule is the introduction of an independent Agile, Mode 2 team. According to Forrester Research, Bimodal IT is the wrong approach at a time when customer preferences for digital technologies are forcing companies to move faster. (CIO, 2016)

Disadvantages of Bimodal IT

Bimodal IT sounds good in theory. You keep the lights on and innovate at the same time. However, this dual mode process introduces its own set of risks.

Lost Communication
Creating two separate teams with their own goals can lead to a breakdown in communication. When this happens you create a disjointed IT department, not working towards a common goal. Success will only be possible if both sides collaborate and keep the lines of communication open.

Resistance to Change
Whenever an organisation changes the way it does business management must expect resistance to change from the employees. It is important to educate employees about the reasons and benefits prior to introducing the changes to avoid massive resistance from the employees.

Fear of New Technology
Employees accustomed to a set of tools may not accept or trust new applications and tools very easily.

Shortage of Skilled Employees
A shortage of skilled employees who can manage Bimodal IT and the problems associated with its introduction, such as interfacing with existing core systems.

Bimodal IT Causes Confusion
Innovation is necessary and sounds good in theory. However, some organisations have no idea how to implement Bimodal IT. They have procedures in place that have worked for so long that they cannot just flip a switch and start innovating. If the correct people are not placed in the “innovation role” the likelihood of success is very slim indeed.

Creating a “Us vs them” Mentality
Splitting the IT department into two teams can create an “us vs them” mentality. This is particularly noticeable when management favours the “innovation team”. It is easy to focus on new tools, but do not ignore the people responsible for keeping the business running. The two teams will cooperate if they feel management treats them equally.


The incorrect introduction of Bimodal IT has the potential to lead to disaster for the organisation. This is a new concept that organisations will struggle to find any clear implementation strategies. In addition, there is currently no clarity on how to align the approach with standards like ITIL or tools like service catalogue.


Boulton, C. 2016. CIO. Available: Why Bimodal IT kills your culture and adds complexity [2016, April 21]

Gartner Inc. 2016. Gartner. Available: Bimodal IT [2016, April 20]

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