Bimodal, Trimodal, Multimodal: What Role Does IT Service Management Fulfill?

Dirk Fuhrmann

Bimodal IT – also known as “two-speed IT” – has been a much-discussed topic for some time now. In an age of digitalization, ever-faster innovation cycles, and increasingly complex IT landscapes, Gartner’s concept is also becoming relevant to IT service management. The two worlds that Gartner describes particularly converge when it comes to operating applications in a stable, efficient way and maintaining the pace of innovation projects.

In principle, Gartner’s concept of bimodal IT splits the IT cosmos into two coherent worlds. This can be compared to a high-wheeler bicycle, with the big wheel setting the speed and the small wheel ensuring stability. In the IT sector, conventional IT ensures service continuity, efficiency, and cost optimization; the agile world is responsible for innovation, flexibility, and a short time to market (see the Gartner IT glossary).

Like a high-wheeler bicycle, where the big wheel sets the speed and the small wheel ensures stability, IT service management (ITSM) also has two “wheels.” Conventional IT ensures service continuity, efficiency, and cost optimization; the agile world is responsible for innovation, flexibility, and a short time-to-market.

However, as a service provider, we are increasingly noticing on the market that many companies are jumping on the agile wheel without looking over their shoulder. Due to external pressure not to miss the boat with digitalization, in some cases, this is happening to the point where new brands are being created or new companies founded solely with the agile world in mind.

But this raises a question: Does agile necessarily mean better?

So, hand on heart: Today’s IT world is characterized by a constant flow of new compliance regulations and other guidelines that can make it hard in everyday IT to implement projects with agility, flexibility, and maximum speed. There is also the issue of (corporate) culture. After all, in many companies, there is not only a need to adapt processes; the workforce has to change its way of thinking, too. All this can quickly do-in plans for the shiny new agile world or, as Peter Drucker put it so well: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Yet IT service management is a key factor in enabling successful delivery of agile projects and will become increasingly important to attaining corporate goals, especially at a strategic level. After all, external IT services, specifically application management services, help avoid getting lost in one of these two worlds – conventional and agile – and instead, connect them both. In IT service management, it’s important to create links between these two worlds.

In a bicycle, the chain is the link, and in ITSM, it is DevOps. How exactly do we ensure this at consulting practice itelligence? Findings gained from our internal processes particularly help us here. Examples are communication between agile software development of our own products (our IP) and support from the application management services (AMS) area.

After all, as you might expect, bimodal IT will be essential to attaining business goals in the long term. It will not be enough simply to communicate in one world. Gartner’s definition falls short here or is often misunderstood. Rather than there being a distinction between two modes, a common whole should be established. To stick with the bicycle image, the chain connects two wheels and interacts with the other components to provide balance. In the IT world, these components are new philosophies such as DevOps.

DevOps as the link

First and foremost, this is about communication. A reliable service provider operates equally professionally here with customers and with other service providers. This provider will be crucial to the success of bimodal IT, as it is able to translate both modes for the customer: Mode 1 for stable, effective operation of the IT landscapes, and Mode 2 for implementation of agile, short-term projects.

However, the situation at the customer end ultimately depends on the approach – be it conventional, agile, hybrid, or something entirely different. This is and always will be an individual arrangement between the service provider and the customer.

Along with the obtained findings, expertise from newly established working methods is also incorporated in our day-to-day work in order to create synergies. The DevOps movement is one example of this.

DevOps is regarded as a philosophy rather than a method. As you will have gathered, the term is derived from development and operations. It supports the collaboration of both areas at all kinds of levels – for example, culture or tools.

There are various derivatives of DevOps these days (SecOps, ChatOps, Rugged DevOps). All of them have one common goal: bringing things together. According to the DevOps Institute (DOI), DevOps is seen as the sum of agile development and agile service management.

Agile service management as the standard

So with the areas of development and project management taking the leap towards agility, the next logical step is to bring agility to our beloved service management.

A new version of the most widely used and accepted framework, ITIL (the de facto standard for service management/rights holder AXELOS), launched successfully as ITIL4 at the beginning of 2019. The ITIL4 framework has evolved to reflect agile practices and ways of working.

Some examples are:

  • Alignment of the agile manifesto – for example, customer collaboration over contract negotiation – and the ITIL4 guiding principles, focusing on value as well as collaboration and promoting visibility
  • Establishment of feedback loops in the new service value system
  • Release management, deployment management, and change control, which all can include agile practices where necessary

Newcomers such as VeriSM (declared as the glue that binds the frameworks through the International Foundation for Digital Competences) will have a hard time  becoming established on the market for now.

And there is also the new ISO/IEC 20000:2018 Part 1 (the international standard for IT service management), compatible with ITIL4 and “equipped for agility.” itelligence has been working toward this standard for several years in the fields of application management and hosting services.

If it were up to Simon Wardley, we would already also be talking about trimodal working methods, about pioneers, settlers, and town planners… but this would be going too far here. One thing is for certain: The agile world is here to stay!

So let’s wait and see how the IT world will progress both technically and in terms of working methods. But instead of leaving ourselves at the mercy of these innovations, let’s gear our IT service management with the appropriate, flexible IT services – without losing sight of quality.

Let’s pedal off together!

Learn more about how Peter Drucker’s wisdom is evolving. See “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast, Innovation For Lunch, And Transformation For Dinner.”

This article originally appeared on itelligence.com and is republished by permission. itelligence is an SAP platinum partner.


Dirk Fuhrmann

About Dirk Fuhrmann

Dirk Fuhrmann is service delivery manager for intelligence's Managed Services, as well as an ITSM and ITOM consultant. For more than 10 years, Dirk has been at home in the IT industry. With his enthusiasm for ITSM topics and focus on the customer, he is a reliable contact person for newly emerging trends as well as established standards within the company.