Gartner’s Take: Bi-Modal IT Is A Mandate For CIOs

November 03, 2014  
Over the past 10 years chief information officers (CIOs) have become more than the chief guardians of technology. They are adding value to the business outside the IT department, in multiple ways. CIOs should embrace and help define their new, multi-faceted roles, according to Gartner Group. Specifically, CIOs should strive for direct involvement in strategic financial planning. 

Recent articles in ZDNet, ComputerworldUK and Computer Business Review (CBR) have quoted Gartner’s Cassio Dreyfuss, VP of Research, saying CIOs must start treating IT as a “bi-modal” function. Gartner defines this as a combination of enterprise-strength IT (reliable and efficient IT services) and opportunistic IT (identifying new opportunities and revenue streams for the business).

CBR’s article elaborated on the bi-modal model: “[IT] can bring expertise on information architecture, business process networks, operations infrastructure and technology scenarios to any business budget discussion.” 

Gartner is not the first to note the changing CIO role, but it is among the first to issue a warning of sorts. The researchers see bi-modal IT not only as ideal, but also as inevitable in order for CIOs to remain relevant.  

CIOs have already assumed advisory roles, but ongoing digitization of business processes and deepening capabilities to drive decision-making with data require more strategic insight into information value, security and integration.

“These capabilities are what CIOs and their teams will have budgeting responsibility for as traditional organizations make the transformation to digital businesses," Michael Smith, Gartner VP, said in CBR’s article.

This makes perfect sense. After all, can anything strategic get done without IT these days? 

In order to adapt to a new, holistic role, CIOs should start with an evaluation of their current in-house capabilities and skills and assess how much time they realistically could dedicate to opportunistic IT. If the answer is “not much” then consider this a pre-requisite challenge and identify solutions. Often, you’ll probably find the answer in a technology solution.
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