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October 26, 2016

Like it or not, shadow IT is here to stay

Like it or not Shadow IT is here to stay

By Richard Blewitt, Sales Director

If you’ve begun to notice that your employees and certain business departments are bypassing internal IT resources to use their own systems, software and applications, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. This IT phenomenon, better known as Shadow IT, has grown out of pure necessity, with tech-savvy staff constantly looking for solutions to make their specific roles easier and themselves more productive. The fact of the matter is that if an IT department is not providing a solution, employees will find a way to meet their needs on their own.

So, where does this leave businesses? Some would say wide open to security breaches and data loss. While others would say in the perfect position to adapt.

For some, the time when IT departments had complete control over almost all the technology decisions made within an organisation is but a distant memory. For others, this level of control is only starting to ease up because of the demand for flexibility.

While it has become clear that Shadow IT is now a permanent feature in many businesses, the natural instinct of most IT departments is still to clamp down on these unauthorised downloads. Although security is a major concern – and rightly so – there is no way to bypass Shadow IT altogether. In my experience, the best bet would be for IT professionals to learn to address the fact that it will be around for a long, long time to come.

The maturity of the company and its IT department is a big driver of its overall approach to this demand for freedom when it comes to software solutions. A company that is in the process of streamlining their security capability is more likely to become a victim of cyber-attacks than one which has all the right steps, permissions and policies in place to safeguard their network.

Here’s a look at ways to stay ahead of the game to ensure you’re not blindsided when it comes to disruptive technology and software solutions.

  1. Think proactively. Instead of getting caught off guard by new technologies that could improve your business processes, stay ahead and proactively look for new advancements your employees may want to use in your work environment.
  2. Streamlining is key. One of the main reasons employees turn to Shadow IT is because it’s a lot faster than going through the organisation’s lengthy processes for approval. Coming up with new processes to fast-track approved technologies is a must.
  3. Set clear boundaries. If there aren’t rules in place, people will take advantage every time. It is up to the IT department to lay out very clear guidelines to show what will and won’t be tolerated in this regard.
  4. Budget for flexibility. Too often, IT budgets don’t allow for agility and flexibility, forcing employees to seek out Shadow IT solutions.

When it comes to Shadow IT, if processes are put into place from the get-go, it can be a very useful way to enable your business units to experiment, while improving their capabilities in a safe way.

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