January 15, 2015

How to Unlock the Secret Benefits of Shadow IT

Enterprise leaders often fail to recognize the other side of the coin when it comes to shadow IT: the innovation and creativity that results from the use of the cloud. 

In most enterprise scenarios, shadow IT has been made out to be a villainous threat to the safety, security and sovereignty of the IT department – as well as a danger to the control of top-tier decision-makers. While there’s no denying that the unauthorized use of business applications and cloud resources does indeed invite unwanted risk to the organization, enterprise leaders often fail to recognize the other side of the coin when it comes to shadow IT: the innovation and creativity that results from the use of the cloud. Organizations that can direct these progressive forces toward positive, compliant objectives stand to minimize the shadow IT risk while gaining an invaluable advantage in terms of technology procurement and development.

Sowing the seeds of shadow

The first step in capitalizing on shadow IT’s hidden potential is overcoming the civil war mentality that many tech leaders adopt when confronting internal issues of this nature. Time and again, decision-makers have discovered first-hand that fighting shadow IT momentum is not only a waste of time and money, but simply bad business policy. Dark Reading recently pointed out that smart CIOs have come to realize the futility and problematic dynamics that come into play when this combative approach is taken. The source pointed to a Verizon study revealing that successful organizations have already come to this conclusion.

“Standards have emerged, IT departments have now developed their competencies, providers have clarified their offerings, and both sides understand each other much better,” stated Verizon’s “State Of The Market: Enterprise Cloud report for 2014,” according to the source. “Many buyers now have thorough mechanisms in place for specifying and managing procurement, governance and performance.”

This sentiment was echoed in a recent Gulf News article which urged leaders to set aside the confrontational attitude typically harbored against shadow IT to facilitate a more cohesive approach toward the development of infrastructure and application layouts. The source pointed to IDC research revealing that 45 percent of the average organization’s technology expenditure now falls outside the authority of the tech department, suggesting that a major shift is in order.

Reaping the fruit of the cloud

New, open policies and mindsets, however, will only get an organization so far in its attempts to turn shadow IT from an enemy to an ally, especially if this unauthorized IT culture is deeply embedded within the DNA of the enterprise’s many departments. Introducing a new cloud procurement paradigm such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect can help companies maintain the creative, self-serve dynamic of shadow IT while reaffirming the ultimate control of the IT department for heightened visibility and security.

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