Shadow IT Isn't A Disease--It's A Symptom Of Irrelevance

Ericka Chickowski

December 02, 2015

Shadow IT Isn't A Disease--It's A Symptom Of Irrelevance

Shadow IT. Just the name runs little shivers up the spines of IT executives—they like to turn it up a notch sometimes and call it rogue IT. Many IT executives look at shadow IT as a disease. It’s scary and risky for end users to go out and get their own SaaS solutions without IT approval or knowledge. It’s even scarier and riskier when the DEV team goes out and spins up a bunch of Amazon instances to essentially stand up an entire shadow data center for some project or other.


And its probably more prevalent than CIOs or CISOs even realize. According to a survey earlier this year by Brocade 83 percent of of IT leaders were aware of at least some level of unauthorized provisioning of cloud services. A recent study from Cisco showed that the typical organization usually has 15 to 22 times more cloud applications running across the business than the IT department estimated. It's a scary thought considering that most of these projects are not vetted for security, data governance or even technological effectiveness.


But here’s the deal: shadow IT is not the disease. It’s a symptom of a much bigger problem.


Or maybe, more apt, it’s like a secondary infection. It can make you pretty sick, but it’s probably not going to be the thing that ultimately kills ya. For IT executives and their departments, the true killer is irrelevance.


If CIOs, CISOs and their brethren open their minds a bit and look at the phenomenon with an open mind, they'll see that at root shadow IT isn't a security issue or a governance issue. It's an innovation issue.


When the end users are constantly looking to work around IT, it's clear that IT is doing a bad job at meeting business needs. Like consumers vote with their wallets, end users are voting with their discretionary budget allocations. For the most part, they're voting against IT calling the shots on the innovative use of technology.


Just recently, a survey by Logicalis found that 90 percent of CIOs today find themselves bypassed by line of business leaders at least sometimes during the normal course of technological decision-making.


It's figures like those that should be a wake-up call to IT executives. Clearly it is time to ask WHY they're being bypassed. Answering this question is the key to not just solving the problems posed by shadow IT, but also in figuring out how to transform an organization in the new age of the software-driven economy.


Executives seeking to answer that question may want to check out Bitdefender's recent ebook, Top 5 Ways IT Executives Risk Irrelevance. This piece offers a cheat sheet on some very common ways IT execs are jeopardizing their seat at the leadership table, along with some strategic tips for CIOs, CISOs and CTOs seeking to reestablish relevance.


I recently also participated in a webinar on this topic. Check out the slide deck, or if you have time feel free to give it a watch.




Ericka Chickowski

An award-winning writer, Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading. Chickowski’s perspectives on business and technology have also appeared in dozens of trade and consumer magazines, including Consumers Digest, Entrepreneur, Network Computing and InformationWeek.

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