When IT lives in the shadows

Caroline Wigley
Tags: Microsoft 365

Scratch the surface of your business, and you’re likely to find a viral infection eating away at it from the inside. It’s called shadow IT, and left unchecked can do serious damage.

Employees under pressure to do more, want more sophisticated tools to help. They need to collaborate with others in real time when producing documents. They need to back up those documents and share them with others. They need to manage projects and communicate with their colleagues instantly. They want the same high-quality experience they get on consumer-facing sites like Dropbox, and they want it all yesterday.

If your IT department can’t provide those services, then your employees will look elsewhere. They’ll pay low monthly fees to cloud-based services of their own choosing with their corporate credit cards.

Alternatively, they’ll build their own applications using ‘low code’ technologies without oversight from the IT department. This is the definition of shadow IT.

That creates two problems for companies. The first is that the IT department no longer controls the technology budget. It can’t see those invisible payments, making it hard to reconcile online service purchases when budgeting for cloud services.

The other problem is even more serious: shadow IT pulls large amounts of sensitive data out of the IT department’s view. Shadow IT users choose online services with no guidance. As a business, you don’t know how secure those services are or what employees are storing on them. They might store sensitive customer data on sites using encryption keys that you don’t control, or they might not use any encryption at all. This could put you in violation of your own policies and regulatory guidelines.

Just how much data is in danger? IT operations company NetEnrich’s 2019 State of the Cloud survey found that for 56% of companies, between 20% and 40% of technology spend trickles away via these unauthorised channels.

The shadow IT problem stems from mismatched agendas. IT wants control, while users want functionality at speed. That’s why, according to application development software company Mendix, around 70% of IT departments think it’s bad for business departments to make their own IT decisions, while 69% of business managers see acting outside IT’s control as a good thing.

How can you fix this imbalance by aligning business and IT? The solution is a common service that can serve both sides’ needs. Microsoft’s Office 365 suite offers end-to-end managed productivity features that empower employees. Its enterprise-class policies will also meet your IT department’s need for strong security and privacy controls. When you’re ready, we can expand your functionality even further with a powerful range of integrated business applications hosted online.

Take the first step in stamping out shadow IT in your business today. Contact our expert team to find out more.

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