Friday, 28th February 2020

Embrace shadow IT or lose competitive edge

New research highlights the extent to which shadow IT is endemic.

NTT Communications Corporation has published research into the rapid rise of shadow IT. The research reveals that employees are deliberately bypassing IT in adopting applications because IT approval processes are too slow, too draconian or do not offer the solutions they want. IT often comes across to employees as the ‘Ministry of No’ which is totally at odds with IT’s self-image as an enabler. If this situation is not addressed it risks having a detrimental effect on business.

The report showed that 78 per cent of business decision makers (BDMs) admit that employees in their department are using cloud services without knowledge of the IT department, while 77 per cent of IT decision makers (ITDMs) are aware that is happening.

57 per cent of respondents went as far as saying that shadow IT is happening in at least half of the departments in their enterprise. The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of NTT Com, also revealed that of the 500 IT and business decision makers surveyed across the EU, shadow IT has been used on average for 18 months, while 87 per cent of respondents believe it will increase in frequency over the next 2 years.

Furthermore, 56 per cent reported having no idea where their shadow IT data is being stored. 79 per cent of respondents said that they store data in the cloud that is critical to their organisation. Going forward this leaves companies at risk of breaching forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), due to become law in 2018, under which they could face huge fines.

The main reasons why employees are ignoring IT department policy and going ‘off piste’ are primarily down to ease-of-use, with 62 per cent citing ‘ease of set up’ as their primary motivation, with a further 52 per cent saying ‘ease of use’ is a defining factor. 29 per cent say shadow IT provides a cheaper alternative to their prescribed ‘official’ option

However, simply shutting down the command and control of shadow IT is not the answer, according to Len Padilla, Vice President Product Strategy, NTT Europe. “Our recommendation is that IT departments jettison the ‘Ministry of No’ approach and instead work with their business colleagues to understand why the shadow IT solutions they are currently using are better than those that the IT department can offer. This consultative approach will enable organisations to get a full view of their IT estate. This will effectively create an amnesty with which to achieve compliance - while retaining the edge employees are looking for to carry out their jobs and ensure the success of the business.”
The report suggests that shadow IT is here to stay. While there is widespread use of unauthorised services and at the same time an acceptance that doing so breaches company policy, 87 per cent of BDMs surveyed believe the trend is set to increase over the next two years.

At the same time, shadow IT has become a key cog in the business mechanism. 80 per cent of respondents said data stored in shadow IT is critical to their organisation, and 77 per cent stated that stopping the usage of these services would limit department functionality. At the same time, 48 per cent of ITDMs believe that employees provisioning their own cloud services frees up time in their own department for other technical and development issues.

“Shadow IT has undoubtedly carved for itself a place in business and is only going to expand its influence”, continued Padilla. “Employees are flouting the IT department in favour of ‘off-piste’ alternatives as they search for options that are easier to use and install. The dilemma for the IT department is how to embrace this trend while keeping company data secure. What is very apparent is that there is an overall reluctance to tackle the issue for fear of stifling the speed and agility that employees require today to do their jobs efficiently.”

“With today’s vast technological landscape, it is impossible for one department to understand the technological needs of every department in the enterprise. By forging a relationship with business managers, IT can view shadow IT as an opportunity to work together instead of playing a tug-of-war game over applications” added Padilla.
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