The ManageForce Blog

Dealing with Shadow IT and Other Spooks of the IT Workforce

Posted by Dan Ryan | 10/27/16 9:10 AM

It’s a fact of the modern workplace — business units are bypassing IT and adopting solutions that are not sanctioned or managed by IT. This so called “shadow IT” phenomenon opens your business to risks that haunt the dreams of many a CIO and exposes the challenges many businesses face when evaluating new technologies.

A recent survey from Cisco found that 15-25 times more cloud services are being purchased within organizations without the involvement or awareness of IT. That’s spooky, and can be a real problem for IT teams tasked with ensuring system security, reliability and regulatory compliance.

So if your organization is battling shadow IT and other IT spooks, don’t call the Ghostbusters just yet. We have a few simple solutions to help you exorcise these IT demons.

Shed Some Light on Shadow IT

While it may be your first inclination, don’t fight shadow IT. There are reasons why business units and employees are turning to their own solutions instead of IT, and you need to understand them, accept them and address them. As such, communication is critical to improving relations with business units that have turned to shadow IT and to understanding why.

Chances are that the department or employee had an immediate need and bypassed the IT department because it’s a faster and more frictionless approach than working with IT to solve the problem. Once IT becomes aware of shadow solutions, there are a handful of questions that need to be asked:

  1. What is the immediate risk to your organization? In highly regulated industries, shadow IT solutions can have serious consequences for regulatory compliance. And of course security is a major concern since these solutions are typically operating outside of the organization’s existing security policies and practices.
  2. What are your options? Many IT professionals’ first inclination is to shut it down immediately, but that isn’t always the best option. Maybe you can bring the solution under the IT department umbrella without disrupting the business. Or, perhaps the IT department doesn’t have the skills or resources to take over. Depending on the business value of the solution in question, it may make sense to outsource its management rather than shut it down.
  3. What can you do to prevent this from happening again? First and foremost, you have to identify the communication gaps within IT that created the environment whereby departments and employees acted independently. And you also have to be very honest about what your IT teams can and cannot do. The days of being able to control everything directly from a centralized IT department are gone, but the responsibility for maintaining systems still belongs to IT. Don’t be afraid to get help when you need it. Outsourcing business critical applications to expert third parties is an effective way to free your IT resources from speeds and feeds so they can focus on meeting the needs of the business — before they bring in shadow IT solutions in the first place.

It takes time and trust to solidify IT as the gatekeeper for all technology solutions, so it's more critical than ever for IT to be out in front, actively working with teams to find the best business solutions, even if IT doesn’t manage them directly.

Battling Zombies

For many IT pros, the never ending fight against the zombie forces corrupting your database environment can be much scarier than shadow IT. Threats from hacking, viruses, faulty data and more are very real — and very disruptive. Since databases are in many ways the ‘brains’ of your organization, it’s critical that you protect them from the brain munchers that creep in while you’re not looking.

Never fear, we’ve put together a guide to help you revive your network: It's no Halloween Prank — Vanquish Ghoulish Database Contention Problems.

And if your DBA’s can’t give these mission critical systems the care and feeding needed to keep zombies at bay, ManageForce has advanced techniques for eradicating zombies for whatever may plague your systems.

Accepting the Mysteries of the Cloud

Even though the first references to “cloud computing” in its modern sense appeared as early as 20 years ago, there is undoubtedly still a good amount of bewilderment around the term itself — and for good reason. The Wall Street Journal recently spoke with Gartner VP, David Mitchell Smith, who noted that “up to 80% of the time vendors offer to sell companies a “private cloud” solution, it isn’t strictly cloud. That compares to less than 30% for public cloud services, which are more likely to fall under a purer definition of true cloud...The same level of confusion exists around hybrid cloud and Platform-as-a-Services products,” he added.

So what’s a CIO to do? Don’t lose sight of your goals. Mr. Smith summed it up nicely, “You really don’t need to get hung up on what is cloud and what is not. The only real question is ‘what is the outcome I want?’”

ManageForce is here to help you achieve the outcomes your business needs. Whether it’s public, private or hybrid cloud, we understand how to architect the technology you need to achieve business results. To learn more about how ManageForce can help you find the right solution, contact us.

And Instead of getting ‘hung up’ on the cloud, take a look at this complimentary white paper that highlights some of the many benefits of cloud solutions such as NetSuite:

netsuite white paper cloud ERP benefits

Topics: IT Management, NetSuite

Written by Dan Ryan


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