Bimodal is the practice of managing two separate but coherent styles of work: one focused on predictability; the other on exploration. Mode 1 is optimized for areas that are more predictable and well-understood. It focuses on exploiting what is known, while renovating the legacy environment into a state that is fit for a digital world. Mode 2 is exploratory, experimenting to solve new problems and optimized for areas of uncertainty. - Gartner.com
Bimodal architecture in brief
The idea of bimodal architecture (or “two speed IT”) was introduced circa 2012 as an IT management approach to enable fast, flexible and collaborative piloting of new digital initiatives with the capabilities of surfacing technologies. Within the past few years the bimodal approach has started to get critique for embracing practices that keep building technical debt. We agree partly agree with the critique but for the majority of manufacturing companies there’s still a valid business case for bimodal thinking when it comes to building quick competitive advantage while gradually turning off the lights from the legacy systems.
Case in point: Bimodal & PDM
For most manufacturing industry companies, a PDM system (Product Data Management) is at the heart of their business. The product information and product names are stored in these systems serving the production processes. In many companies these systems have been implemented and deployed more than a decade ago. Over the years, the changes in PDM software bas been conservative compared to the development leaps technology around PDMs has taken.
From the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) point of view, replacing an existing PDM rarely makes a good business case because the item information is stored into PDM. It is much more reasonable to leave the system as it is and integrate it with modern software to enrich the information and unlock new software powered capabilities for your offerings and for your offering model.
In the automotive industry, you can find an example from engine construction. The cars have an engine chip, which are balancing power performance, along with consumption and emissions. The chips can also make the engines deliver more power for performance. The automotive engine is typically the very same model in different car models, except for the chip that commands the engine parameters.
Configuration Model Management or Bimodal PDM gives companies the chance to integrate titles and product model management between their previous PDM system and the product model management database.