Building For A Digital Future With Bimodal IT

Greg McStravick

Part 1 in the Biomodal IT series

Every generation of IT professionals faces challenges, but today’s risks and rewards are higher than ever before. It’s not just because the business is more dependent on technology for its overall success. An ever-changing assortment of data sources, exponentially growing data volumes, and evolving business models are forcing CIOs to prepare for unprecedented complexity and potential business disruption.

For decades, IT’s highest priority has been to enhance control over the business systems of record. Beginning with core financials and extending to ERP systems across the supply chain, we’ve automated and standardized processes, recorded transactions, and analyzed data. These systems enhance competitiveness by providing insight that helps save money, increase efficiencies, and better serve customers.

But it’s no longer enough.

In this new digital era, we must do more. Organizations must grow incrementally and exponentially – sometimes taking quantum leaps to get ahead of the market.

Catalyzing innovation

Think about the once-leading companies that have fallen because their legacy viewpoints, systems, and processes failed to keep pace with new products or services introduced by competitors unencumbered by the past. It’s far from hyperbole: the threat of disruption is our new reality.

For that reason, business leaders must shift from a traditional IT strategy – one that focuses singularly on control and management – to a bimodal IT approach that differentiates the business. Mode 1 systems help us guide and steer the business. We also need mode 2 to catalyze innovation by leveraging new sources of data, leading-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and massive compute power and storage functionality at scale.

With a bimodal IT strategy, CIOs can capture data from Internet of Things sensors, drones, devices, and new sources to come. Using powerful in-memory compute technology and a modern, data-based infrastructure, we can rapidly process that data and share it with mode 1 systems to create a more complete view of the business, its opportunities, and potential disruptors.

The foundation of bimodal IT is a single modern data platform – one that allows you to orchestrate and manage data on both your mode 1 and mode 2 systems. Within this universal data management framework is one logical data set that covers both transactions and analytics across the enterprise.

There is no need to replace the technology that is working, however. Most companies will be able to retain their existing mode 1 systems. Teams can stand up new mode 2 systems and develop integrations between mode 1 and 2, allowing them to connect these systems to new sources of data.

Prioritizing action over inertia

It’s not always easy to get started with this transition to bimodal IT or to secure financial support, especially when today’s IT systems are running smoothly. The prospect of launching new projects and risking disruption to the business is not one that anyone relishes. Yet I firmly believe that the best time to modernize is when things are going well.

Many technology leaders wonder where they should begin with a bimodal IT strategy. The truth is there no perfect place to start. Depending on your company and the industry, the right first step can range from incorporating new data sources to deploying modern technology tools. The important thing is to get started – before your competitors do.

The highway of business is littered with the carcasses of companies that failed to see change coming. By deploying a modern data management framework, technology leaders can begin to develop the foundational layers that support bimodal IT. Only then can they tap into the resources that will help differentiate the enterprise and innovate for long-term success.

Please be sure to sign up for the complimentary IDC maturity model, which shows the stage of your company’s innovation relative to its database. I welcome any comments or feedback as well. Leave a note in the comments section, or tweet me at @McStravickGreg.


Greg McStravick

About Greg McStravick

Greg McStravick is the president of Database and Data Management at SAP, leading development and go-to-market teams for SAP’s core digital innovation platform, SAP HANA, and databases (including SAP ASE and SAP IQ), enterprise information management, middleware, and SAP Vora. Formerly, Greg led the go-to-market teams and strategy for some of SAP’s largest and fastest-growing businesses, including the SAP HANA platform, analytics, database, and SAP Cloud Platform. With more than 20 years of progressive experience as a leader in technology solution sales management and strategy, Greg has held senior leadership positions throughout SAP, including president (U.S.), where he was responsible for driving customer success and developing new opportunities for SAP to expand its business across the entire U.S. region.