Industrial Sector

Keep the core clean with bimodal IT and low code

Enterprise IT is under constant pressure to provide a balance between stability and innovation. Various models have been designed to make this possible. One well-known model is bimodal IT. In this article, we look at how, within this model, low code development is a good way of simplifying and accelerating various aspects while keeping the overall system stable. 

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What is bimodal IT

A bimodal IT strategy allows companies to balance the need for stability and reliability with the demand for rapid development and innovation.  

The Mode 1 approach is used to manage critical core systems, while the Mode 2 approach deals with developing and deploying new capabilities to support business growth and innovation.  

This dual focus helps keep the core systems stable and secure while allowing for rapid development and testing in other areas of the IT landscape. 

Within an IT landscape, the core systems are the critical elements that support key business processes and require a high degree of stability, reliability, and availability. These systems are usually managed through Mode 1. 

Other applications, such as customer-facing tools and mobile apps, are typically managed using Mode 2, emphasising rapid development and testing to foster innovation and business growth. 

Bimodal IT model differentiators

Alongside the bimodal approach, the concepts of a ‘system of record’, a ‘system of differentiation’, and a ‘system of innovation’ further differentiate the bimodal IT model.  

A ‘system of record’ relates to the core systems that manage and store important data such as financial information, customer details, and other vital intelligence. These systems are typically managed using a Mode 1 approach to ensure stability and reliability. 

Applications that enable a company to set itself apart from its competitors – such as customer-facing applications, marketing tools, and other unique solutions that give a company a competitive advantage – are called ‘systems of differentiation’. They’re usually managed with a Mode 2 approach to encourage rapid development and innovation. 

Emerging technologies and experimental applications with the potential to significantly drive growth and change within a company fall under ‘systems of innovation’. These are often used to test new ideas and technologies and are usually managed through a Mode 2 approach. 

Overall, the bimodal approach – combined with the system of record, system of differentiation, and system of innovation – provides a structured and balanced way of managing IT development and operations. It keeps the critical core systems sound and reliable while helping support rapid innovation and growth in other areas of the IT ecosystem. 

Keep the core clean strategy

Alongside the bimodal approach, another important strategy is ‘keep the core clean’. This strategy involves keeping the core systems as stable and consistent as possible without introducing unnecessary complexity or dependencies. The aim is to avoid adaptations or changes that could affect the stability of the core systems or hamper maintenance.  

Customisation is often difficult or even impossible, particularly with core systems procured from a vendor; as soon as the vendor releases new versions of the core system, customisations can hinder the upgrade. The ‘keep the core clean’ approach addresses these aspects, too. But how do you add missing functionalities to the core systems while maintaining the ‘keep the core clean’ strategy? 

You can ‘keep the core clean’ using the Mode 2 approach to develop new functions and applications that can be integrated into the core systems via clean interfaces. This approach helps keep the core systems stable and secure while enabling rapid innovation and growth in other areas of the IT landscape. 

Graphic bimodal IT Schematic and simplified IT landscape

In the example shown above, the systems of differentiation are partly to be understood as extensions of the core systems/system of record because they extend their functionalities.  

For example, the ‘mobile sales solution’ calculates certain values based on the information provided by the ERP/core system and writes these back to the core systems after the process is complete.  

To comply with the ‘keep the core clean’ strategy, this would not be built within the core system but instead outsourced through clear interfaces to an application developed separately. This reduces the number of changes to the core system and separates the development and operation of the solution from the core system, achieving greater agility without compromising stability. 

Value of low-code platforms and bimodal IT

Low-code platforms enable rapid software development while facilitating flexibility because they only standardise the technology rather than the business functionality. This is precisely why they are ideally suited as platforms for Mode 2 applications, or the system of differentiation and system of innovation.  

These platforms allow you to share components and connectors. In this way, they help accelerate the integration of solutions while reducing maintenance and operating costs. The simple integration of (core) systems enables the ‘keep the core clean’ approach outlined above by externalising additional functionality to applications on a low-code platform.  

The bimodal approach uses systems of record, differentiation, and integration – together with a ‘keep the core clean’ strategy – so you can manage your IT development and operations effectively, balancing the requirements of stability, reliability, and innovation.  

Low-code platforms are an ideal way of customising business processes while adhering to the principles set out above. These approaches help companies remain competitive and flexible in today’s fast-changing business environment while ensuring that key core systems remain reliable and secure. 

Learn more about the benefits of low code development and platforms. 

Contact person for Switzerland

Silvan Stich

Head of Low-Code

Silvan Stich has taken on the role of Head of Application Platforms as of January 2022. His focus is on team leadership and he is responsible for the development and advancement of the Application Platforms topic within the Cloud Practice. Silvan gained experience with application platforms as a project manager in various projects and bid phases. The great flexibility paired with fast implementation inspires him for the technologies.

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