Shadow IT – 9 Things To Look Out For & 1 Unexpected Benefit

Shadow IT – 9 Things To Look Out For & 1 Unexpected Benefit

James Crossland

Digital Marketing Manager|Kerv digital

Published 06/07/22 under:

Have a question about something here?

Get in touch

Shadow IT will stop your Digital Transformation in its tracks… and you may never even realise it!

 

Anyone who’s worked in I.T long enough (or worked with IT teams long enough) will no doubt remember needing permission to do anything on your computer that even slightly deviated from the norm. This could be seen as either a good or bad thing depending on whether you worked in IT or with IT (we’re definitely not taking sides!).

It was impossible to introduce any kind of hardware or software into the business without signed and sealed approval, possibly in triplicate.

A large part of this was because end-users had neither the knowledge or inclination to run their own technology (beyond trying to re-install minesweeper of course).

But for better or worse, those days have long since passed…

What Is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT can go by many names.

Embedded IT, Fake IT, Stealth IT, Rogue IT, Feral IT (this might be our favourite!) or, if you work for an agency, Client IT.

No matter what it’s called though, it always means the same thing. Shadow IT is created when departments other than the IT Department create workarounds outside of the Central IT Teams control (or knowledge) to get around perceived flaws in the system.

These workarounds could be software or hardware based or, increasingly, Cloud based.

What Causes Shadow IT?

The main reason Shadow IT has exploded in recent years is because end-users have become completely comfortable with the downloading and installation of Cloud based apps and services in their private life, so it’s only natural this spills over into the working world where they seek to make their day to day role easier/more efficient.

How Common Is Shadow IT?

How do you answer that?

By its very nature Shadow IT is almost impossible to measure, or even realise it’s there in the first place. Many departments may even take active steps to hide their activities from their own IT Teams in the mistaken belief what they’re doing is for the best.

Without a through review of your Business Architecture and processes you may never catch it all.

Even if an organisation does know… it’s not like they’ll be rushing to publicise those numbers.

However, a report from Gartner back in 2015 did show that 35% of enterprise IT expenditures for most organisations will be managed outside the central IT department’s budget.

That was back in 2015 though… undoubtedly the situation is much worse now.

Examples of Shadow IT

The list of what does and doesn’t count as Shadow IT is almost endless, but some common and easiest to spot examples might include…

 

  • USB Flash Drives for the transporting of data
  • Instant Messaging services for communication between staff (FB Messenger, WhatsApp Desktop etc)
  • Private email accounts sending confidential work emails
  • Google Docs
  • WeTransfer

What Are The Implications Of Shadow IT?

Depending on who you ask, Shadow IT can be either a good or bad thing.

For most organisations Shadow IT will result in a heavily fragmented system and app infrastructure, making any kind of meaningful Business Intelligence hard to come by as well as possibly sacrificing security but… can, in some circumstances, make an organisation more agile for the overcoming of business obstacles.

Problems Caused By Shadow IT

Shadow IT can cause so many issues within an organisation that it would be impossible to list them all here but some of the main offenders include:

 

  • Security Issues – This should be an obvious one. If your staff is downloading who knows what onto your servers then the chances of Cyber Actors targeting your business with malware, ransomware or other viruses goes through the roof. It also allows untested devices and applications straight into your corporate infrastructure without any guidance, control or testing from the IT Team.  One of the main points for SaaS is that the vendor will control the upgrade and release process. This means a SaaS customer always has the latest, most secure version of software. But upgrades can still have unintended consequences. Managing the updates and testing a new release is hard enough, without a layer of Shadow IT getting in the way constantly.
  • Wasted Time – There’s a lot of hidden costs Shadow IT can cause an organisation. First there’s the time taken by non-IT staff downloading software; time taken by IT teams to fix any problems caused; time taken when someone leaves, is ill or goes on holiday and someone else needs to figure out what systems they were using because nothing is centrally documented; the list goes on and on and on!
  • Lack of Business Intelligence/Internal Logic – If different departments are collating, storing and reporting on data using a variety of different programs or calculations then over time small errors will creep in as data is copied, modified, misunderstood reported on and acted on. Gaining any kind or real-time view of an organisation is impossible when Shadow IT is too prevalent.
  • ·Wasted Investments – If senior management or the IT Department are unaware of Shadow IT (or it’s extent) then it’s possible large scale investments can be made, often in Data Warehousing or Business Intelligence Tools, that, through no fault of their own, then never get used as staff are already using their own work arounds.
  • Business Inefficiencies – Shadow IT is almost always a blocker to any meaningful innovation as it prevents the uptake of more efficient business processes. How can you streamline your business processes if you don’t even realise what’s going on in the first place?
  • Data Loss – If Data is being stored outside of the approved methods then chances are it’s also not being backed up correctly, making it far less secure and… should the worst occur, likely unrecoverable by your IT teams.
  • Compliance Issues – Depending on the type of data being stored this could open your organisation up to all sorts of compliance issues such as GDPR breaches. It could also leave you in breaking all sorts of security and software legislation without ever realising it.
  • Slows Digital Transformation – Shadow IT can drastically slow (or even stop) Digital Transformation projects. Assuming all your organisations software/hardware has been deployed to fulfil a business need; your IT Team will have backups of it if required, protocols for updating it and procedures for replacing it. If they’ve no idea where anything is or how it’s being used though Digital Transformation stalls and will be massively prone to errors
  • Creates Animosity – Shadow IT invariably leads to chaos which almost always leads to a them and us attitude between your IT and non-IT staff. It can also lead to attitudes and motivations that really aren’t in the best interest of your organisation such as data hoarding, skill siloing, self-promotion and favour trading.

How To Prevent Shadow IT

Whilst you may be hoping for a tech solution here, by far the easiest way to stop the use of Shadow IT is to remove the root cause of it, otherwise you’re just treating the symptoms.

Regular reviews from heads of departments, leadership teams and the IT Department are vital in this process.

 

  • Do the departments have the software/hardware they need?
  • Does it all perform as it should (or as the department need it to)?
  • What problems are the various departments currently struggling under?
  • Does everyone that needs to have a clear picture of this?
  • Are there any upcoming challenges that might provoke a new requirement?

 

Most importantly though, you can’t shy away from the pain points.

If you’re finding lots of examples of Shadow IT then ask the end-users why they chose that route rather than contacting your IT Team.

Are IT not approachable?

Is there too much red tape in the procurement/request process?

Benefits of Shadow IT

So now we’ve terrified you about Shadow IT we promised you an unexpected benefit, didn’t we?

The main benefit you can derive from Shadow IT is how much more reactive and agile it can make your staff.

Individual departments can control their own IT resources rather than relying on a central team.

They can also be an important source of innovation.

The person quietly working away in accounts who finds a new macro or designs an app that will automate and streamline part of his day to day? That’s Shadow IT.

But roll it out company wide and suddenly they’re an efficiency hero!

The trick is finding the right balance. Your central IT department need to be able to recognise the signs of Shadow IT whilst still controlling the technical environment, guiding the business with enterprise-class Business Intelligence tools.

 

Whilst it may be tempting to try and put a blanket ban on all downloads or unapproved apps without prior IT approval, we live in an age in which anything an end-user might need can be accessed through their personal mobile anyway.

All you’ll really be achieving is stifling your staff’s agility.

It’s a competitive world out there and departments… and ultimately the overall business… needs to be agile to survive.

Shadow IT systems can be a source of innovation. They can also be a huge blocker to Digital Transformation.

The real trick is, as with most things, tackle the issue head on at its source and remove the need for your staff to try and circumvent your IT in the first place.

This can best be achieve with a modern digital platform centralising application management, data storage, security management and other related technical assets but which also empowers staff with the right tools to extend the platform so they can develop solutions freely within their department, in the open (not in the shadows) and with the all the security concerns involved with solution development and data exchanges taken care of for them.

For example, imagine your marketing department being able to create a little app which connects to the central CRM, fetches a desired list of contacts and enables them to send them automatically to another department every Friday in preparation for a campaign.

Your marketing team can crack-on happily in the open and your IT team wont be worried about security issues – in fact they’ll probably be happier to have less work to do!

That’s where the Power Platform and Power Apps change truly digitally transform your organisation…..

Related Articles

You might also be interested in

From our world to yours

Compliance monitoring under the spotlight

From our world to yours

The rise of business messaging apps and the need to stay on...

From our world to yours

Compliance: important ownership changes while adapting for flexible remote workforces

From our world to yours

Data silos and legacy compliance monitoring systems – barriers to effective surveillance...

From our world to yours

What it takes to top the Gartner CCaaS Magic Quadrant

From our world to yours

Why gamification is topping the bill for contact centre agent workforce management...

From our world to yours

8 contact centre trends to future proof your business

From our world to yours

Spotlight on Local Government – Where is CX heading for citizens?

From our world to yours

Think bigger with Microsoft Teams.

From our world to yours

Microsoft Teams is here to stay, what’s the next step?

From our world to yours

At Kerv we want to make customer-first really mean something…

From our world to yours

Different by design

From our world to yours

How Engagement Technology is Transforming the Membership Sector

From our world to yours

A modern CRM system needs a modern data platform

From our world to yours

What is… Microsoft Cloud for NonProfit?

From our world to yours

6 Back-office technologies modern supply chains should already be using

From our world to yours

Re-imagining CX in a golden age of integrations – combining Genesys and...

From our world to yours

Maximising CX value through AI-driven digital engagement

From our world to yours

Experience as a Service: What it is, why it’s important and where...

From our world to yours

Achieving empathy across digital channels

From our world to yours

Redesigning CX from the ground up

From our world to yours

Genesys EMEA Cloud Partner of the Year 2020

From our world to yours

Life at Kerv Digital As A Functional Consultant

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital as an Apprentice Power Platform Consultant

From our world to yours

How To Increase Efficiency With Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

From our world to yours

Supply Chain Control Towers – The Tech That’s Changing Logistics Forever

From our world to yours

Supply Chain Digital Twins – The What, The Who & The Why...

From our world to yours

On-Demand Logistics & The Tech That Makes It Possible

From our world to yours

What Is… Insurtech?

From our world to yours

What Is… Microsoft Cloud For NonProfit?

From our world to yours

16 Times You’ve Been Using Artificial Intelligence Without Realising

From our world to yours

Jack’s Worried – His Website Is Losing Him Dues Paying Members

From our world to yours

From Paper Based To Cutting Edge… With Zero Downtime

From our world to yours

Life at Kerv Digital as a UX Designer

From our world to yours

Sarah is Sad – Her Staff Aren’t Finding New Members Or Engaging...

From our world to yours

How To Squeeze Hidden Value From The Hidden Data You Didn’t Know...

From our world to yours

Reducing Member Churn & Delivering Member Insights With Data Science

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A Dynamics Functional Consultant

From our world to yours

The Effect Fintech Is Having On Our Everyday Lives

From our world to yours

Dealing With Ethical Walls In Tech… Ethically

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A DevSecOps Engineer

From our world to yours

IOT: Dragging The Future Of Healthcare Into Today

From our world to yours

How Will Tech Revolutionise Health Care Over The Next Half Century?

From our world to yours

Empowering Public Transport With Big Data

From our world to yours

Putting Patients First Vs. Cost Concerns

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A Power Platform Solution Architect

From our world to yours

What’s The Best CRM For The Membership Sector?

From our world to yours

How Remote Patient Monitoring Data Can Drive Health Efficiencies

From our world to yours

Is A Career In NonProfit Digital Transformation Rewarding?

From our world to yours

Six Back-Office Functions NonProfits Should Be Using Robotic Process Automation For

From our world to yours

How Data Storage Management Will Change In 2022

From our world to yours

Business Central Vs Sage – Which Does Your Organisation Need?

From our world to yours

How To Debug Something With A Rubber Duck

From our world to yours

Using Design Thinking To Empower Digital Transformations

From our world to yours

How Business Central Can Keep You GDPR Compliant

From our world to yours

What Can Business Central Actually Do?

From our world to yours

Why Data Classification Is Vital To Your Organisation (And How To Easily...

From our world to yours

How To Inspect Items When Using The Execute Pipeline Activity In ADF/Synapse...

From our world to yours

How To Create UI Flow’s In Power Automate

From our world to yours

D365 BC Vs D365 FO: Let’s Settle This Once And For All!

From our world to yours

How To Drive Donor Engagement With Kerv Digital’s Free Powerups

From our world to yours

9 Awesome Benefits To The Microsoft Dataverse

From our world to yours

Canvas Apps Vs Model-Driven Apps

From our world to yours

How To Set Up Field Monitoring In Business Central

From our world to yours

Check Out The Benefits Of The Microsoft Catalyst IDEA Framework…

From our world to yours

Component Led Development, Or… How To Make Your Organisation Instantly More Resilient

From our world to yours

How To Achieve A Single Customer View In 5 Easy Steps

From our world to yours

Best Practice For Creating Cloud Flows With Microsoft Power Automate

From our world to yours

Legacy Estate Reduction… Or When To Get Rid Of Old Tech

From our world to yours

What Is Fintech?

From our world to yours

How To Get Better At: Online Continuous Personal Development (CPD)

From our world to yours

Virtual Exam Proctoring (Or How To Stop People Googling The Answers At...

From our world to yours

How Hyperautomation’s Benefiting PAO’s (Professional Accountancy Organisations)

From our world to yours

Cyber Security For Remote Working… How Everyone Can (And Has To) Pitch...

From our world to yours

What Is An Advanced Persistent Threat (APT’S) Attack?

From our world to yours

Visualising Your Data Differently With Power BI

From our world to yours

Database Marketing – What Is It & How Can You Benefit From...

From our world to yours

Microsoft Dynamics Cloud Licensing Options – What’s Available?

From our world to yours

Privacy By Design – What You Need To Know

From our world to yours

How To Connect To A Named Sandbox Environment

From our world to yours

What Are The Different Types Of Cloud Licensing Agreements?

From our world to yours

How To Export To Text Files From Microsoft’s Business Central SAAS

From our world to yours

Technical Debt – The What, Why, When & How Do I Get...

From our world to yours

Ensuring Business Continuity With The Microsoft Stack

From our world to yours

What’s The Best CRM For The NonProfit Sector?

From our world to yours

Rage Donations – How To Engage Past The ‘Now’

From our world to yours

What Is It & How To Avoid: Vendor Lock-In

From our world to yours

The Bad Guys Don’t Care You’re The Good Guys

From our world to yours

Build The Future Of The NonProfit Sector… Today

From our world to yours

Data Protection & Artificial Intelligence: Best Practice

From our world to yours

Organisational Debt & Why It Makes Digital Transformation Hard

From our world to yours

Discussing All Things RPA… Robotic Process Automation

From our world to yours

Creating A Low Code App Using PowerApps & The Power Platform

From our world to yours

Now’s The Time To Get Excited About Cognitive Search

From our world to yours

If You Don’t Have An Automated Deployment Process… You’re Already Obsolete

From our world to yours

Tips & Tricks To Creating Successful Volunteer Management Systems

From our world to yours

The Five Types Of Cyber Criminals

From our world to yours

Security-By-Design: Or… Better Safe Than Sorry!

From our world to yours

Leading With Technology In The Membership Sector

From our world to yours

What Does IAAS, PAAS & SAAS Stand For?

From our world to yours

What Is Business Architecture?

From our world to yours

What Is Data Gravity? (And How Your Organisation Can Benefit From It)

From our world to yours

How To Fix DateTime Stamps In Microsoft Dynamics 365

From our world to yours

6 Easy Steps For Promoting A Culture Of Cyber Security

From our world to yours

15 Cyber Security ‘Things’ To Safeguard Your Business

From our world to yours

Microsoft Dynamics 365: Settings In solutions

From our world to yours

13 Ways To Save Money When Using Microsoft Azure

From our world to yours

The Problems With Addresses In Microsoft Dynamics 365

From our world to yours

Understanding The Benefits Of Predictive Science In The NonProfit Sector

From our world to yours

Top 6 Digital Impacts On Membership Organisations

From our world to yours

The 7 Stages Of A Successful AI Project

From our world to yours

What’s The Difference Between UI And UX?

From our world to yours

8 Ways Your Business Can Increase Turnover With Big Data

From our world to yours

Dynamics 365 In NonProfits

From our world to yours

Kerv acquires TDS Global Communications Compliance Practice

From our world to yours

What is Microsoft’s Power Automate?

From our world to yours

What is InvestTech?

From our world to yours

Derek Is Stressed – His Purchasing Team Aren’t Coping With Long Winded...

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A Jnr DevSecOps Engineer…

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A Principal Architect

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As An Azure DevSecOps Engineer…

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As Head Of Client Services, Public Sector

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A Junior DevSecOps Engineer

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A Graphic Designer

From our world to yours

Microsoft Inspire 2022 – Here’s All The Big Announcements!

From our world to yours

The Need for WhatsApp Compliance Recording

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A UX Researcher

From our world to yours

Life @Kerv Digital As A Senior Delivery Manager

From our world to yours

Life @ Kerv Digital As A Senior Delivery Manager

From our world to yours

Data Silos and Legacy Compliance Monitoring Systems – Barriers to Effective Surveillance...

From our world to yours

Kerv and Venari Security Partner to Widen the Lens of Enterprise Encryption

Have a question?

Leave your details and a member of the team will be in touch to help.
Type your first name here
Type your last name here
Type your phone number here
Type the company you represent here
By pressing send, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.