Should you fear the rise of Shadow IT?
Shadow IT, sounds pretty harmless right? But in reality, it can pose quite a few risks to your organisation if ignored and left unmanaged. What is Shadow IT? The term Shadow IT applies to hardware or software which is used within a business without the authorisation, or sometimes even knowledge, of the IT department.
An increasingly problematic issue
Previously the IT department had full control over the technology and software used within an organisation, but over time that has changed. The rise in the usage of Shadow IT is greatly helped by the quality of consumer applications in the cloud. This includes applications such as file sharing apps, collaboration tools and social media.
Shadow IT is supported further by many organisations having a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place now. The landscape of corporate IT is now even more complicated when trying to manage personal applications and data with a mix of sensitive corporate data under one roof.
Why is Shadow IT so bad for business?
More often than not, the use of Shadow IT goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Businesses have good reason to have guidelines and procedures in place which identify which software can be used within the organisation. Without knowing which applications are being used, the IT department face a number of challenges.
One of the most important risks of using Shadow IT is the huge security risk. Think how damaging it would be if sensitive company data was leaked! IT can’t guarantee the security of documents stored or shared on unauthorised file sharing applications.
Gartner predict that by 2020, one third of cybersecurity attacks will occur directly because of the use of Shadow IT! This is why it’s so important to try and get a procedure in place to detect the use of any unauthorised applications.
Another downside to the use of Shadow IT is that if various teams are using different applications, communication and collaboration become a lot more challenging. With one authorised platform it’s easy for departments to share documents securely and quickly without any confusion of which document is the latest version, for example.
Then there is the financial impact. If different departments are using, and paying for, various applications without authorisation you might find you’re paying for different applications which essentially do the same job. Or even worse, paying double for the same type of licence across different departments because no one has communicated.
How can you overcome Shadow IT?
So how can you combat and prevent the use of Shadow IT in your organisation? Start by finding out the reasons why people are choosing to use Shadow IT. Most employees will revert to Shadow IT because it helps them to make their working life easier and more efficient in some way.
- Don’t restrict employee communication, promote it. Enterprise Social Network tools, such as Yammer, are a great way to encourage internal communication on a platform which mimics their favourite consumer websites and apps.
- Making internal applications securely available on mobile devices will hugely improve employee engagement in existing platforms and software. We live in a mobile dominated world where people want access to the information they need at any time, anywhere in the world.
- Use data. You should be using the information you get from identifying which cloud applications your employees are using to identify the gaps in technology in your business. It may even provide opportunity to develop a great new application within your business, or move your business to a platform that can cater for the majority, if not all, of your requirements!
To sum things up, if you don’t want to risk critical data breaches, higher expenses and inconsistent internal communication then you need to make sure your keeping a close eye on Shadow IT in your organisation.
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