I read an interesting article today on the topic of Shadow IT. It defined in great detail what Shadow IT used to mean (hardware or software not supported by the company’s central IT department), and what it means today, accounting for BYOD utilization and applications such as Gmail, instant messaging, social media and Skype, for example. Shadow IT raises a lot of issues and fear among many IT admins. As stated in the article linked above, “IT administrators fear that if shadow IT is allowed, end users will create data silos and prevent information from flowing freely throughout the organization.” There are also valid concerns with regard to bandwidth, security risks and, in many industries, compliance.
But what are the benefits of Shadow IT?
Well, as an end user, you can often procure the technology and self-service it, all for a fraction of what it would cost, having gone through the IT department. Let’s think about it from a company perspective, though…If the IT admin or CIO embraces the concept, Shadow IT can quickly and easily uncover the real needs of an organization’s employees and business lines.
When it comes to Shadow IT, the problem can itself become a tool to find better solutions.
So, as an IT admin, where should you start?
Set yourself on a path of discovery… Discover just what Shadow IT applications and hardware people have adopted. Find out WHY people have adopted these tools. The “why” will shed light on your organization’s urgent and unaddressed IT needs.
Evaluate and enable… Once your discovery is complete, you will then have a clear idea of what kinds of solutions your IT department need to evaluate. If the unauthorized application or device is not easy to secure and enable, you can always look for alternatives that can be secured.
What will you do?
Will you shut down employee usage of Shadow IT, limiting their productivity? Or will you listen to your employees’ needs—as expressed in their use of Shadow IT—and enable them to do what they need to, when they need to do it, in a way that protects corporate data and ensures compliance?
Written by Paula Waddell, Director of Marketing at Tricerat. Paula firmly believes in listening to the voice of the customer. “If I’ve learned one thing over the years it’s this: Success is not about me and it’s not about the company…it’s all about the customer.