CIOs Need to Rethink Shadow ITShadow IT usually has a negative connotation for CIO’s. Many CIO’s and IT professionals believe shadow IT leaves software and hardware vulnerable to security breaches. When implemented correctly, this simply isn’t the case. In today’s digital workplace, it’s time for CIOs and IT teams to embrace shadow IT, and the multiple benefits it offers. Shadow IT isn’t a harmful practice, but a necessary one.

Reframing Shadow IT

To fully understand shadow IT, CIOs and IT teams need to look past the name and realize no IT processes are being done in the shadows or without the knowledge of the required parties.

While shadow IT does encourage employees to make their own IT choices regarding certain technology, allowing these personalized choices helps to drive innovation surrounding modern enterprise technology. Instead of referring to employee driven IT choices as ‘shadow IT’, companies should use terms like ‘end user innovation’ to reframe and change the mindset surrounding shadow IT.

Benefits of Shadow IT

Companies in the midst of a digital transformation need to have the latest technology to succeed. The cloud, bring your own device polices (BYOD), and effective IT security measures are necessities for digital transformation. Shadow IT can enhance these aspects—among others.

Cloud technology has seen rapid growth in the past two years and shows no signs of slowing down. Companies of various sizes are utilizing cloud technology for multiple businesses functions, and shadow IT is making an impact on the cloud. The ever changing technology surrounding the cloud make it challenging for IT teams to protect software and hardware from breaches. With the use of shadow IT, employees are able to become more familiar with cloud applications and choose IT protection they are familiar and comfortable with.

The use of shadow IT with the cloud isn’t the only way shadow IT encourages innovation from employees—BYOD polices and shadow IT also work together to drive innovation and increase productivity. Allowing employees to use personal devices increases comfortability and actually empowers employees to make their own technological choices.

These personalized choices can lead to employees using multiple devices, platforms, and operating systems, and encourage employees to try various technology to find the best fit for them. This trial of new technology for specific employees has major benefits for the company as a whole. When employees find the right combination of operating systems and devices that they are comfortable with, productivity increases.

Removing Obstacles and Improving IT Dialogue

By removing obstacles and embracing shadow IT, companies give employees all the tools they need to enhance engagement and improve productivity—a goal of every business. Employees tend to resist new technology they are not familiar with, leading them to take measures into their own hands to find technology and IT practices that work for them personally. For these reasons, IT professionals often refer to shadow IT as ‘rouge IT’. By embracing and expanding shadow IT, IT teams remove unnecessary obstacles in the technological processes that hinder employee productivity.

Many employees find it difficult to talk to IT professionals and teams in an office. The use of different terminology coupled with a different set of expertise can make it intimidating for employees to approach IT professionals for help. Shadow IT encourages employees to find the best technology and practices that work for them, and in that process, it improves dialogue between IT teams and other employees. Shadow IT actually helps IT teams communicate more effectively with other employees in regard to new and existing IT processes and technologies.

The Takeaway

Many CIOs and IT teams view shadow IT as a security threat. However, when CIOs, IT teams, and employees all work together to find the best technology that works for all parties involved, shadow IT improves multiple business functions. Digital transformation is a vital for companies to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, and embracing shadow IT enhances employee engagement and improves productivity. Many companies already have BYOD polices in place, and with employees using their own devices its imperative companies embrace shadow IT and expand upon its parameters. CIOs and IT teams that embrace shadow IT remove obstacles that hinder employee productivity while simultaneously improving the dialogue surrounding IT. It’s time for CIOS and IT teams alike to embrace shadow IT and experience the many benefits it provides.


Photo Credit: shadowbilgisayar Flickr via Compfight cc