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Shadow IT a threat or an opportunity for the enterprise

There’s no one to blame for shadow IT except the IT department. It began happening because business units don’t have the time or inclination to deal with painful procurement processes.

By John Oates

The role of technology within the business has changed. The speed at which business decisions have to be made and projects implemented keeps on accelerating. Reacting to the competition, and to customers, requires instant action not annual updates.

Business leaders frustrated at dealing with bureaucratic purchasing processes instead turned to cloud providers who are willing to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’.

People are used to getting technology instantly just like the apps on their phones or a web service accessed through their browser. They want the functions and the services but don’t want to hear about the nuts and bolts.

Traditional IT departments see this as a threat – they’re losing control of IT infrastructure and being removed from the decision making process. This process used to be a haggle between the business and IT, with IT cast as the Grinch – reducing PC specs, cutting back on storage demands in order to fit the budget.

However cloud providers mean that the business can simply bypass IT if it doesn’t get the answer it wants.

But the rise in shadow IT is really the perfect opportunity to both change the way IT relates to the rest of the organisation and to shift the business to a hybrid infrastructure.

By truly engaging with business units the IT department can be seen as a genuine driver of new technology and services within the enterprise.

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The IT department can work with an individual business unit and use its budget rather than just control the purse strings.

The rise of shadow IT also by definition moves the business to a hybrid infrastructure.

But this new role means the IT department is no longer just building and maintaining systems, instead it is providing them whether they are built in-house or brought in from the cloud.

It does require a different mindset which matches the changing role of technology within the business. And by shifting some of the grunt work to the cloud the move should also allow more time to focus on developing the business and new services.

As technology becomes ever more central to revenue streams and central business concerns so there is room for a bigger and more strategic role for the IT department.

Shadow IT cannot be allowed to grow unchecked within the business. It needs strategic and security oversight.

A properly managed hybrid platform can offer better business services for less costs. But a system which simply leaves all the decisions to business units will create potential security or compliance problems, duplication of services and fail to provide the potential savings.

Talking about these issues should bring the IT department and the business much closer together.

Building those relationships will put IT back in the driving seat for procurement and for pushing the enterprise forward.

This means a different role for the department and the need for a very different mindset and it means offering cloud and in-house services. But embracing shadow IT should both improve the enterprise infrastructure and put the IT department into the centre of all strategic business thinking and decision making.

This will allow the business to continue to adapt at the ever increasing speed which the modern world demands.

And it means the business will get best in class services whether they’re provided by the in-house team or by a remote cloud provider.

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