Discussions about shadow IT departments have gone hand in hand with talks about the rise of cloud computing and the consumerization of IT. As both cloud and consumerization trends have matured, shadow IT has become a greater threat. The simple reality is that organizations need to have robust IT service management principles in place if they want to keep their data safe, and shadow IT departments are a big part of the reason why such solutions are necessary.
Considering the Scope of Shadow IT
A recent study performed by Symantec that focused on the United Kingdom found that approximately 42 percent of workers in the UK find ways to work around what is available through corporate IT and find their own solutions, DataCenter Dynamics reported. In most cases, business users are leveraging cloud and Web services to get whatever functionality they want without having to deal with all of the checks and balances that come into play when IT gets involved. Cloud file storage systems are a prime example of the alternative solutions that shadow IT users turn to, and just 11 percent of those polled said they are aware of any security risks associated with such solutions.
These numbers may be staggering, but they are only a glimpse into the scale of shadow IT departments. The full scope of shadow IT is even greater, as users gaining the power to use solutions that are not secure on a whim also has severe fiscal and strategic implications and can send IT down a dangerous path in which it loses its ability to control technology assets and protect a company. Establishing good ITSM principles is one key to avoiding the problems caused by shadow IT because effective ITSM practices can stop shadow IT from getting a foothold.
ITSM tools that safeguard against shadow IT
The idea of shadow IT can weave images of spy movies in your head. With that in mind, think of ITSM as your counter-intelligence operative - it will stop shadow IT in its tracks. Two of the ITSM tools that can help accomplish this goal include:
1. Service catalogs:
Implementing a service catalog solution allows users to gain consumer-like functionality from the IT department. This results in an operational climate that is flexible, adaptable and, essentially, everything users are looking for when they turn to alternative options. Many business users turn into shadow IT operatives because company solutions aren't meeting their needs. A service catalog turns this process on its head. If workers don't have a solution that works well for them, they don't need to go to outside sources, they just turn to the service catalog.
2. Self-service portals:
A lack of responsiveness can also turn internal IT users into shadow IT operatives who turn to alternative options to get the help they need. Having a user turn to an outside source for help only to get advice, can actually creates problems within the company IT configuration. Consumerization and shadow IT doesn't just mean using third-party applications, it also means getting support from those vendors when the applications don't work well. But here's the thing - consumerization is rising largely because corporate employees are more tech savvy and want solutions fast. As such, IT can capitalize on this to create internal self-service portals, giving users immediate assistance and easing the burden on service desk teams.
Service catalogs and self-service portals may not completely eradicate shadow IT, but they set a foundation for a more efficient, responsive and valuable IT service setup that will keep users ready to trust IT and stay within corporate bounds to get the job done. Employee education and other programs are also needed to entirely eliminate shadow IT, but ITSM principles set the foundation for success.