It may come as a surprise to finance chiefs, but IT managers have wrestled for years with a shadow operation that threatens their ability to care for the organization’s network and keep track of how tech is used (and abused) by the workforce. The operation, appropriately dubbed “Shadow IT” isn’t likely to go away, but it needs to be managed and corralled and finance may need to get involved to make sure that happens.
When former database admin Steve Jones began his career more than 20 years ago, he and a group of four managed a network of 1,000 nodes and multiple servers.
His boss demanded fast, effective response from the team. Jones believed this was how IT worked.
Soon he was transferred to a new team at another facility. Same number of nodes. but IT managed only three quarters of them.
Who oversaw the rest? “Shadow IT” personnel.
Shadow IT isn’t a thing of the past. It’s a fast growing trend in an IT environment filled with Cloud options, Bring Your Own Device practices and increasing mobility.
The result of all this emerging new technology and its tools?A big chunk of the average company’s IT budget is now spent on items that the IT department isn’t aware are used.
This is according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that estimates between 15-30% of companies’ IT spending is done without IT control or knowledge.
The end result can be IT costs that spiral out of control and company data that’s likely exposed to greater risk and compliance missteps.
This can be especially likely when business units adopt Cloud-based storage and applications designed for comsumers, not business.
Why operate in the shadows?
Understanding why Shadow IT operates is important to getting control of it – or at least attempting to keep track of it.
Many business units opt to make purchases or acquire services because they want to move quickly in new channels or markets.
Going through IT processes and procedures, they believe, will take too long and cost too much.
A tech savvy employee of the business often gets the task of implementing and overseeing the hardware or software acquired.
And everything goes well until it doesn’t. Then, IT gets the call to sort out the problems and find solutioons.
Security and compliance may have been breached and there’s a mess to clean up, data to be recovered and resourcrs to be replaced.
Data that should have beem retained may be lost and old data that’s useless has likely been saved.
Not only will the process of fixing the situation be dumped on IT, the tech staff will likely get the blame for what happened in the first place.
It won’t matter that they weren’t consulted in the first place.
Somebody’s bound to suggest, “IT should have known.”
Getting out ahead of the problem
Shadow IT can be a shortcut to increased productivity or it can be a disaster waiting to happen.
IT certainly knows which result is most likely.
Probably the most important thing an IT manager can do for the organization is to build and maintain a high level of trust.
The technology that can be delivered just won’t matter of your internal “customers” don’t think you’re concermed aboit their needs.
To build greater trust with business units in your firm, consider:
• Regular visits by IT or gatherings organized by them with business units to uderstand what’s going on and what’s needed.
• Setting clear, firm policies about technology implementation and use can help prevent Shadow IT Warriors from doing battle with IT
• Fostering good relations between Shadow IT folks and official IT staff encourage them to consult with IT for suggestions and ideas, and
• When you discover a Shadow operation, make sure IT regularly backs it up so data can be salvaged if necessary.