When you hear Shadow IT discussed, people are often talking about how risky it is and how much it needs to be controlled, but, in fact, Shadow IT can be highly beneficial to an organization. Shadow IT is when certain teams or departments implement their own technology or software solutions without the knowledge of IT or security. Many of today’s workers bring cloud applications into the workplace with IT often ignorant of their existence. Various studies have estimated that as much as 30% to 50% of enterprise purchases represent Shadow IT. More apps expose more data, and the IT department struggles to remain compliant.
So why not squash all Shadow IT purchases?
Well, the answer lies in how quickly your organization needs to adapt and innovate. Although the desire to control applications isn’t going to disappear any time soon, it shouldn’t restrict the innovation Shadow IT can bring to organizations who are willing to embrace it. To attract and retain today’s workforce, organizations must adopt innovative technologies which support collaboration and remote work. Gone are the days when all systems are run on premises, installed on servers and controlled by IT. The majority of these solutions have moved to the cloud or have strong equivalent offerings that live in the cloud. By allowing loosely managed innovation, new solutions that will benefit the wider business can be found. The IT department no longer needs to manage every system.
So how can IT empower the business while protecting corporate data?
In order to take the worry out of embracing new applications, the IT department should embrace solutions such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and user provisioning, which will allow them to keep the benefits but eliminate the risk. By ensuring that users are logging into these applications securely and doing a bit of investigation ahead of purchase to ensure that the SaaS providers are protecting user data sufficiently, IT can allow all the employees to handle the management of these applications on their own. Allowing employees to freely use applications not only minimizes the drain on IT resources but increases productivity and employee engagement, which helps the business, and also helps the business compete for talent.
With this in mind, organizations must ensure they embrace the many beneficial aspects of Shadow IT (empowering employees) while empowering IT teams to ensure these new systems are secure and compliant. With systems such as IAM in place, harmony can be achieved between the need for combining business speed with operational excellence.