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Do you have Type 1 or Type 2 IT?

By Shannon Williams
Fri 22 May 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The last 30 years has seen huge change in information technology, and particularly the last five years has seen significant disruption as IT companies keep looking for its next competitive edge.

That’s the opinion in the latest blog post from IT Masters at Charles Sturt University, where it asks organisations “Do you have Type 1 (traditional) or Type 2 (agile) IT? 

The changes occurring in the IT industry is what has created the ‘Agile IT movement’. 

“One could say Agile IT has become a tradition. Its origins do go back fourteen years to 2001 and that is a long time in IT,” IT Masters says. 

Back then a group of people looked for a better way to manage software development and implementation and came up with a manifesto of four values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

This will enable followers to be always ready for change and be adaptable with implementations which are not necessarily perfect but quick,” the company says.

Traditional IT means careful planning, testing and implementation geared to getting it right the first time and having a Plan B prepared as well. From a customer’s point of view, IT Masters says, that sounds ideal.

“But then a customer will always want their implementation on-time and on-budget, so aspects of Agile IT would also be attractive,” the company explains. 

This is when organisations need to bring in Bimodal IT. According to analyst firm Gartner, this is where the two quite distinct IT approaches exist in the same organisation.  Agile IT caters to the growing needs of the business, while Traditional IT ensures the technology functions as it should.

Phanish Puranam, professor of strategy and organisation design, says, “Most new ideas are re-combinations of old ideas and constraints are good for innovation, much like necessity is the mother of invention.”

Puranam says based on these observations Traditional IT has the old ideas with Agile IT could reinvent and not having free reign could initiate the reinvention of old ideas.

Gartner says, “Agile IT rolls out today’s updates, changes, and quickly evolving technologies, while Traditional IT continues to develop the long-term plans and goals, manages technology budgets, and takes a disciplined approach to deployments.”

IT Masters questions whether these two methodologies should co-habit in the one team or be two teams. 

“Two teams would just add another level of complexity to what is already a complex area,” it says. “But can the two types work together effectively? They appear to be opposing forces but so are yin and yang and they rely on each other and work together, not against each other.”

“It could be that within every Type 1, there is a Type 2 waiting to break out.”

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