It starts simply enough. An employee has a problem. He needs to get work done. So he bypasses his company’s technology because it’s old, outdated, inefficient, clumsy. Just to login and use it takes time he doesn’t have.
And besides, there’s an easier way.
All the tools he really needs are right in the palm of his hand. And thanks to cloud providers like Salesforce and file sharing sites like Dropbox, he can easily complete the work he needs to do in record time.
Of course, he would never admit to doing this with the IT department. But the IT department would have to be blind not to know. Yes, today’s business environment is the online version of the Wild West. And Shadow IT is establishing the rules of the land.
Today’s Shadow IT is growing bigger than ever, thanks to the exponential growth of quality consumer applications in the cloud such as file sharing apps, social media, and collaboration tools.
The IT department can ignore it. The IT department can even issue rules against it. But today’s employees are clever, smart, efficient. If they can’t do what needs to be done, they will find another way. And that creates a mess within the organization.
Few would think twice about opening up Dropbox, saving a file, and sending it off to their peers and staff for sharing. It’s how you get work done in today’s world. But what about the risk that presents the company?
- Is proprietary data at risk?
- Is personal identification information at risk?
- What is the risk of theft?
And all they want to do is transfer a file.
What’s a CIO to do?
Reduce Evaluation Times
Listen to the people in your organization. One of the biggest complaints we hear is about technology requests. The review process for new tools simply takes too long. The IT department puts the request on the back burner, considering it a low priority, or it spends far too much time in the evaluation process. If a request is made, the solution will be found. The only question is will the answer come from you.
Even after a new technical solution gets the green light, it can sometimes take weeks, even months to implement. A lot of questions may need to be answered: how is it budgeted, who will implement? Which is why newer and faster processes for fast-tracking approved technologies must occur.
Anticipate and Embrace
The world is speeding up, and it will never slow down. You can’t exist with what works today; you must anticipate where we’ll be tomorrow. If you’re not evaluating new technology, looking for the faster, better, more efficient way to do things, the people in your company are. Up to 40 percent of all IT spending today occurs outside of the IT department. That means people in management, marketing, even finance are learning what it means to be more efficient, and they are looking for better ways to achieve it. With or without your help. Anticipating needs early and establishing processes that work will save you time and headache in the long run.
Become an Enforcer
Shadow IT can hurt a company. It’s up to the CIO to control it. If rules are broken, it’s up to you to gain control. While you may find the best solution is to create new internal policies, in some cases it may be the employee who is wrong. Don’t relinquish control. Create clearer policies, more efficient systems. Reinforce how the process works, and let people know what is not tolerated when it comes to projects that sidestep IT.