IT Departments Out of the Shadows

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

One study shows that IT departments underestimate how many outside applications are on their networks by a factor of 10. With this in mind, shadow IT is rapidly replacing traditional IT. Corporate employees bring increased tech-savviness, garnered through their personal use of technology, and it’s changing the way that IT gets done in the workplace.

Technology-empowered users drive new initiatives like the movement towards BYOD. They’re used to SaaS and the cloud, since they use it to do their taxes (TurboTax), create files (Google Documents), and store their files (Dropbox). While their demands are more sophisticated, their technical skills aren’t, and most of them also expect to have access to easy-to-use and slickly designed products.

This new environment doesn’t have to be disruptive to a company’s IT departments. The CIO is not obsolete, and companies can’t exist within a technology infrastructure. However, CIOs and departments that don’t adapt can be left behind.

Cloud technology and SaaS can be freeing. The more administrative tasks that third-parties perform, the less time the IT department has to waste on them. Embracing the cloud frees companies up from beta-testing applications, dedicating staff to making backups, or managing upgrades. Getting ahead of the advancing cloud is a four-step process:

  1. Determine which applications should stay and which should go to the cloud.
  2. Build a framework for how your company will use and optimize the cloud.
  3. Set the cloud up with help from outside vendors that have expertise.
  4. Manage the parts that make up the cloud and their interrelationships while letting lower-level administrative tasks be handled by the provider.

Once the transition finishes, CIOs will find themselves with more time to focus on being a business partner to the rest of the C-suite. Some CIOs feel that their time should be divided unequally. To them, 25 percent should go to technology infrastructure and management issues while the other 75 percent is spent understanding the organization’s business needs and building technology to reach them.

This type of customer service orientation can get a CIO in front of shadow information technology initiatives. With a team that understands what they want and what they need, users will have less need to turn to their own initiatives, since the CIO will have already identified, tested, and implemented a best-in-class solution. This is the opportunity that today’s shadow IT problem offers: a chance to reinsert CIO’s role throughout the company.