Technology is at the heart of every modern business, and getting it right means the difference between staying ahead of the competition and lagging behind. But there is more to today’s technology management than simply firefighting glitches once they come to light – that alone represents an inefficient approach to IT, and one that can prevent your business from making the advances it needs in order to achieve your goals for its future. Instead, you need to be always be looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your systems and give you an edge over your competition.
In the small and medium-sized business sphere, many companies don’t focus on the innovative strand of technology management at all. You simply might not have the resources to do so, or perhaps you are already so preoccupied with battling existing problems that there aren’t enough hours in the day to think about doing anything more strategic. Even in companies that are ahead of the pack and thinking about innovative IT, challenging day-to-day workloads often mean it is easy for strategic priorities to fall by the wayside.
Introducing Bimodal IT
According to Stamford-based IT research and advisory firm Gartner, the answer lies in Bimodal IT. To simplify the model it proposes, Bimodal IT involves separating the two primary functions of modern technology management into two groups. The first group focuses on troubleshooting day-to-day issues and ensuring uptime and business continuity, while the second works at innovating to streamline systems, develop new ways of working, and ultimately prevent those regular problems from occurring as frequently in the future. This way of working is already practiced at leading-edge, IT-intensive organizations like Facebook and Etsy, where developing in-house technology products is a big part of the game.
Of course, there will always remain some interaction between the two teams, which Gartner calls Mode 1 and Mode 2. This is beneficial in itself since the two sides can learn from one another’s experiences. After all, anything devised on the innovation side will ultimately need to be deployed as part of the business’s day-to-day operations. Other benefits of Bimodal IT include:
- More focus – by separating your IT teams into two, those concentrating on innovative, forward-looking development will be less likely to be pulled away by the need to deal with a pressing operational issue, allowing your strategic team to dedicate the necessary resources to building systems that will reduce downtime and make your organization more efficient.
- Greater flexibility – disruption is the order of the day in the majority of industries, and it’s likely to be only so long before a new player emerges to shake up the way businesses in your vertical operate. Having older IT systems, and being constrained by an IT team setup that prevents you from quickly adapting to change, raises the chances that your business will not be able to keep up with your competition. With a section of your IT team dedicated to innovation, however, you’ll already be one step ahead and ready to confront whatever comes your way.
Bimodal IT and the small business
Moving to Bimodal IT is all well and good as an ideal scenario, of course. But the reality is that many smaller companies don’t have the luxury of a fully staffed IT department in the first place, let alone one big enough that they can afford to divide it into two and allocate different priorities to each. This is where the role of Managed Services Providers (MSPs) like IT Authorities becomes crucial, and allows small and medium-sized businesses to enjoy the same benefits of Bimodal IT as the larger enterprises with large budgets and better-resourced technology departments.
How Managed Services Providers can help
Technical innovation and proactive IT management are at the heart of what MSPs do, scouring for potential network issues and fixing them before they become a cause of downtime; in fact, often before the business has even noticed that the problem exists. But naturally, MSPs also provide responsive support to clients as needed, and this combination of proactive and reactive work makes MSPs the ideal partner in implementing a variant of Bimodal IT suited to the setup, budget and resources of smaller businesses. MSPs can assist in a number of ways:
- If your company already has an internal IT team – even a small one, with just one or two team members – your MSP can focus on innovation, streamlining systems and performing the kind of experimental technology work that will help to equip your network for the future. This will allow your own IT staff to work on day-to-day issues as they crop up, while the MSP’s proactive efforts will also reduce the number of such problems in the first place, and the frequency with which they occur.
- The alternative is for your MSP to focus on the day-to-day firefighting of IT issues, and in the process free up your internal team to focus on the valuable higher-level technology management and strategy that will equip your organization for the future and ultimately drive higher returns. Since the more routine tasks will be taken care of elsewhere by your MSP, your staff will be able to get on with planning unhindered and without the usual distractions.
- In companies without any internal IT resource at all, the MSP can assume both roles – providing responsive assistance in solving day-to-day IT problems, alongside looking forward with more strategic, proactive innovation. Unlike the average small or medium-sized business, MSPs have the dedicated resources required to separate these two functions. The flat-rate nature of Managed Services also means that it is in an MSP’s interests to place a heavy emphasis on the proactive work demanded by Bimodal IT, since the subsequently reduced downtime-causing IT hiccups cuts the cost to MSPs of troubleshooting and firefighting.
The takeaway from Gartner’s focus on Bimodal IT is that it believes IT departments as they stand today – combining both reactive fixes and proactive innovation, but all too often pulling off neither well enough to truly drive companies forward – are on borrowed time. The Bimodal approach allows for greater focus on both of these essential functions of a business’s IT team and enlisting the help of a Managed Services Provider puts this within the reach of the cash-and-resource-strapped small business, too. What’s more, whatever portion of the overall workload the MSP takes on, communication continues to flow with the staff working on the remaining part of the equation – which is crucial in order for the two parts to complement one another and for the overall IT operation to be a success.
To discover how IT Authorities can help deliver part or all of your organization’s proactive and reactive IT management and support, and in the process assist you in achieving a Bimodal approach to your technology strategy, give us a call today.