It’s Time to Deal with the Shadow IT Problem

By Brad Ellison| July 26, 2017

Shadow IT refers to the practice of deploying IT systems and solutions outside of, and without the knowledge of, the IT department. As cloud applications mature, Shadow IT has grown exponentially. Employees now have the ability to bypass IT with on-demand solutions available for a low monthly fee (or for free) right at their fingertips. People often engage in Shadow IT because they believe it improves efficiency and drives down costs by not involving IT or waiting on a corporate-wide solutions to materialize.

In reality, this approach undermines the IT department’s reasonable need to maintain and control the environment, leading to a series of serious issues that often get overlooked until it’s too late, including increased risk of security breaches, financial waste due to investing and maintaining redundant or unnecessary software, and poor user experience due to a lack of IT oversight and support.

How to Deal with the Shadow IT Problem

According to a recent study, the average organization leverages an upwards of 1,427 cloud services. This cloud application explosion has led to a historical crossroads in IT. You can either continue to operate under a largely inefficient and potentially dangerous IT delivery model, or you can make a change.

Fight It

Perhaps the simplest solution is to try and fight it – revert to the good old days when files and emails were stored locally on computers and IT knew with certainty where critical data lived. Unfortunately, that’s not where the future is headed.

There are 20,000 cloud services in use today with new applications being created by the hour. If you don’t give employees the freedom to leverage these powerful tools and capabilities, it is almost certain they will find a way to do so on their own anyway. Cloud-based application adoption is here to stay and any discussion around trying to fight it should be taken off the table. The move to digital is a natural evolution and, frankly, those that resist it might as well end the business now.

Embrace It

While it’s now largely accepted that cloud applications have become a way of life for business, simply embracing the change does not address the significant IT and security risks associated with Shadow IT.

According to Gartner, by 2020, one-third of security breaches will be because of Shadow IT. Companies that continue to ignore the security implications associated with Shadow IT will, at best, suffer financial and reputational consequences of a security breach at some point in the near future. At worst, they’ll be like 60% of mid-size organizations that have gone out of business due to a cyber-attack.

Adapt to It

If fighting Shadow IT is no longer realistic, but fully embracing it is too risky, then the majority of businesses will have to find new ways to adapt. Effectively managing the rapidly growing and changing IT landscape warrants a significant resource allocation.  Learn more about the five primary areas organizations need to look at in order to effectively manage Shadow IT. For many mid-size organizations, this means teaming up with a Managed Services Partner who can provide the management, governance, and business alignment to effectively manage Shadow IT.

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