Thursday, 4 December 2014

Is Your Shadow IT Really Shady?

The mention of “shadow IT’ will strike a chord differently with different people based on previous (or current) experiences. The truth is that Shadow IT exists. The question you need to ask yourself is how it exists in your organization.

The reason which the term shadow IT gets IT teams concerned is that they see this as limiting the amount of control over something that they dominated in the past. How did we lose that control you might ask? In its simplest form it is can be broken down into a few components.

     Technology skillset

Where IT was once the “all knowing” regarding technology, business relied on them as a trusted advisor in matters as it pertained to technology. There came a point however where the business community had caught up in the tech skillset and became more savvy with the way that they conducted business as it pertains to the technology they were using and didn’t have the same levels of dependencies to IT that they once needed.

      Only at home?

All things aside, people want to have the same functionality at work as they do at home. They are comfortable in making decisions based on personal research and are using a wide variety of tools at home so they wonder “why not at work too?”

      IT is its own enemy

The final straw which ties the first two together is that while our business base changed, we may not have made parallel advancements. Because of this our once valued ability to provide service now starts to appear as a roadblock on the radar for the business. This is a problem for them especially in tight economic times where your business is looking for any competitive advantage.

So what do we do? Well, to start with we really need to understand the extent of the shadow IT within the organization and what that looks like. Once we do that we can better determine what is working and what may require some assistance. After all we want to ensure our business interests are protected and security concerns are dealt with if any exist.

It is possible that a business unit bought an off the shelf application but there may be services that their vendor has also outsourced, adding layers of shadow to the shadows. In other instances we may have a formal shadow IT. It is possible that as part of an application deployment some IT people moved with the project into the business unit as part of a sustainment team. Technically they are performing IT functions outside of IT to a degree as well.

At the end of the day we are looking to ensure that the business achieves its goals. Whether there is or isn’t shadow IT shouldn’t be the concern. We need to work with the business to ensure that where IT can we enable the business to achieve its goals.

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