Pros and Cons of Shadow IT


CIOs should structure their internal IT department in such a way to enable it to recognize the business needs of their non-IT counterparts. If corporate business units start looking at external technologies, internal IT should help to evaluate them. If a particular external technology turns out to be the appropriate solution, then internal IT should not only help in the implementation, it should consider integrating it into its own IT service offerings, and officially support it to enable other departments to take advantage of the new technology in the future.

Of course, it depends upon what Shadow IT technology is. Some external technologies should not be allowed into internal IT regardless of how useful they may seem, because they compromise corporate security or violate various compliance initiatives which the company is required to implement. Yet external technologies exist that may be advantageous for an internal IT department to examine, evaluate, secure and integrate.

CIOs should design their IT infrastructure to support Shadow IT technology to a certain extent. There are business advantages in allowing external technologies in a controlled way, rather than its outright banning. When external technology is banned merely because it is external, it only encourages Shadow IT to drop to a lower, shrouded level. CIOs need to remember that the purpose of IT is to increase the organization’s business performance. Internal IT departments should work with business units and guide them to select the best technology for their particular needs.

The use of Shadow IT within the organization often exposes larger organizational problems, like the lack of communication between IT and non-IT departments, or the unwillingness of IT to work with business units to find the best solutions for their needs. IT departments are risking losing control of their environment if they do not start working more closely with the rest of its organization.

"Thank you for playing a major role in the design and implementation of a number of major projects in our organization. I hope that you have tremendous pride in the work you have done in the past for the UN, and that you know we very much appreciate it."

Amir Karmazin, UN
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