shadow it

Can embracing mobility bring an end to shadow IT?

by Daniel Newman
“Shadow IT,” or the use of unapproved apps in the enterprise, is a huge problem for businesses.

Today’s companies want more flexibility faster than IT departments can provide. Tech-driven employees use a variety of tools and apps in their personal lives, and expect the same level of ease and efficiency from their work tools. In short, employees are seeking true mobility and access to their tools and applications from anywhere on any device. While this supports the current bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, culture, it also opens you up to countless potential security threats.


Traditional IT bureaucracy requires employees to wait for approved tools. Unfortunately, today’s employees don’t have the time or the patience for such long and drawn-out processes. This leads to sidestepping the IT department and downloading the apps they know will make their jobs faster and easier. So, should you sacrifice the benefits of mobility and employee efficiency and satisfaction for the sake of security?

Here’s the answer. Numerous studies and surveys list mobility to be a top priority for organizations from all sectors due to its numerous benefits: enhanced productivity, employee retention and loyalty, reduced cost and better remote collaboration capabilities.

Traditional IT bureaucracy leads employees to sidestepping the IT department and downloading the apps they know will make their jobs faster and easier.

Understanding the risks involved

Mobility is an enterprise necessity, and organizations who are looking to embrace mobility must also embrace Shadow IT. Let’s call it “Shadow IT-Lite” in this case. But this isn’t the wild west. Your IT departments and CIOs need to ensure that security protocols are in place, and that clear security and cloud application policies are drafted and heavily monitored. They also must make sure that every employee in your organization is aware of these policies. You have to understand what risks come from empowering your employees with mobile strategies — and if those risks are worth taking.


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End shadow IT 

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CIOs need to abandon their old-school ways

According to a Frost & Sullivan report1, the rise of Shadow IT is a direct result of employees finding organization-approved tech tools not particularly helpful nor easy to use, resulting in a long learning curve. The end result? Employees fail to achieve their goals, productivity is hindered, and money is lost.

Therefore, you need to close this gap, embracing BYOD and the use of productivity apps. This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of your CIO. Instead of bottlenecking productivity, CIOs need to encourage employees to stay productive while being conscious of risks. The old-school CIOs want to protect their domain, but successful and adaptive CIOs want to embrace today’s technologies while being mindful of data privacy, security and safety.

Employees will always find ways to use their preferred tools without considering the ramifications. Therefore, it is your CIO who can end Shadow IT by being more tolerant towards mobility and taking initiatives to make it happen, the way you want it to happen, and under your watch. 

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1 "The Hidden Truth Behind Shadow IT: Six trends impacting your security posture."2013. Frost & Sullivan.