Shining a Light on Shadow IT

Technology is everywhere. Literally. At home and at work, the end-user is becoming so much more than it once was; developer, controller and its own municipal self-serve helpdesk. The dinosaur IT generation (you know the ones, the server-hugging lock-down no social media at work community) need to accept this and embrace a future whereby the central IT function enables its users to adopt the best, most cost-effective application for their needs.
March 5 2019

Easy to say, we know. We hear it; the difficulties of unsupported business critical applications, the security risks, the single points of failure. And it’s true – these things represent real risks. But we in the technology community are never going to overcome it so let’s look at how we exploit the benefits and reduce the risk.

IT is about innovation, right, so how can my IT department be kicking me when I just wrote a macro-based spreadsheet that saves my team hours at month-end and cost the company nothing to produce or support? All true. Educate the business on the benefits of documenting the process, backing-up, and so on. Sit down with the author to address any data risks, be collaborative and supportive.
Publicly celebrate the author as an IT whizz, give them a bottle of champagne and talk to them about how to ensure that the data can be integrated centrally. If you time it right you might even get a glass.
Be tough
Make sure that the Shadow IT ground rules are heard and understood. Rather than discouraging it, point out the inherent risks of Shadow IT. If the author of our famous spreadsheet goes off long-term sick, who takes over? If it croaks next month-end, what’s the back-up plan?

We are where we are in the technology evolution. Centralised control will inevitably continue to diminish – let’s face it we will all be talking to our kitchen appliances from our cars before much longer. Managing Shadow IT successfully (like most things in life!) is firstly about recognising it as here to stay. Once that’s accepted, promote good communications, ensure shared understanding of risks and pro-actively work with business functions to harness its power.

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