Using applications without the explicit organizational approval of IT has been a known issue for decades. Dubbed “Shadow IT” for obvious reasons, this phenomenon now needs to be viewed through a different lens given today’s new generation of connections and apps. When hearing the phrase, most people immediately think about the security implications. Before applying that level of scrutiny, however, we have to address a bigger concern: the impact on productivity and the complexity introduced to managing business data.
Cloud applications start with the premise and promise of increased productivity, reduced impact on IT staff, and low cost of ownership. These are all good things, right? Viewed through a different lens, however, we see a different story.
Increased productivity sounds great. Think of project management apps in the cloud – most offer real-time collaboration across departments and outside of the firewall with partners and vendors. This eases the burden of data and files clogging email inboxes. But, if the business does not have a clear cut strategy that leverages an enterprise-level application, this invites different groups to try different project management cloud apps. This could result in your data now being present on several different, disjointed platforms that lack a coherent connection that is secured, shared, or monitored by the IT department. Good luck trying to reign that problem back in.
People also expect cloud apps to reduce the impact on IT staff. Recent analyst studies have pulled back the curtains to reveal that some enterprises have hundreds of instances of cloud apps running without IT’s knowledge. There are dozens of project management apps out there, and if the marketing department uses one app while product teams are using half a dozen different apps, we can imagine the problematic scenarios that can arise. Now extend this to different silos, regions, and countries and we absolute data and communication chaos. The complexity of discovering and managing data now becomes a monumental project that the business will ask IT to fix.
So now we see that the initial low cost of ownership goes out the window and we have yet to discuss how Shadow IT impacts the integrity of data, not just as it sits in disparate clouds, but also on various devices and network endpoints around the world.
To solve the Shadow IT problem, business leaders must pull together and agree on a cloud application plan; and it helps to enlist the services and expertise of a partner that can help manage a cloud application strategy. The right cloud management partner can help you determine the best course of action across all departments, thereby creating efficiencies and saving time and money while still allowing you to retain control over your data. If you don’t have control over your cloud environment, it’s time to join forces with an expert cloud service that can shed light and bring visibility to your Shadow IT situation.