Shadow IT is a description of software and hardware being used by an organization without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. While the term is a neutral one, to many it suggests a negative feeling since the IT department is unaware that other members of the company are using it.
Unknown and unapproved software and/or hardware could lead to serious data theft, corruption, or even the installation of ransomware on any business’s computer system – be it a sole proprietorship or a huge company.
How to Mitigate or End the Use of Shadow IT?
Before you can fix something, you need to know how a situation got to be where it is. Shadow IT began becoming a problem as IT departments could not keep up with new technology. Individuals, and even entire departments, began ignoring the IT department to acquire software that met a specific need or hardware to make access to systems easier. Access loosening gave rise to the Bring Your Own Device phenomena taking place in many businesses, especially those that support cloud computing. In addition, cloud computing provides many services that lone employees or whole units of the company can easily use.
Following are some tips to end the use of Shadow IT in your company:
- Expedite new technology requests. Ask any business unit in your company about the company’s IT department and it won’t be long before you hear that it takes the department too long to evaluate needed new technology. Have your CIO lead an effort to make the process take less time but protect the company from hardware and/or software missteps.
- Another thing executives and owners will learn from employees are that implementation after approval also takes too long. Many view IT as a logjam at implementation due to outdated policies and procedures – here again, is the opportunity for your CIO to create policies and procedures to break the logjam and get new technology swiftly integrated into a particular business unit.
- As an executive or owner of the company, keep up on technology advances within your industry and also in general. By staying ahead of what could be disruptive technology you can better manage it. One way of doing this is to attend an industry technology conference or seminar.
Many industries, such as:
- The financial industry;
- The health care industry; and
- The insurance industry must maintain compliance with regulatory agencies or be subject to penalties and plans of corrective action – this can be costly. So, as a member of the executive suite, make sure that all IT policies are adhered to and make it known those things you will simply and absolutely not tolerate.
4. Have IT and other business units talk to each other. One way is to have an advisor from IT meet on a regular basis with each business unit to share advances in technology that might be worth further exploration.
It seems that IT is becoming more of an in-house consultancy than a hands-on department. But, what about startups and SMBs without large budgets to even have an IT department? Many companies run on a “don’t call until it doesn’t work” mentality – they don’t have an IT department and use outside resources at the last possible minute. It is more efficient to outsource IT to an experienced vendor – your company will become more dependent on IT in the future, not less.
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